Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Ligon Duncan on Zondervan and the TNIV

A press release from Ligon Duncan, chairman of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:
Today (September 1, 2009), Zondervan (the publisher of the NIV), the Committee on Bible Translation [CBT] (which oversees the NIV and TNIV translations) and Biblica (which owns the copyrights to the NIV and TNIV) announced the discontinuation of the TNIV translation. The TNIV received significant criticism from the larger evangelical community both because of the way in which it was introduced to the Christian public (there was a widespread perception of lack of integrity in the process), and because of numerous controversial aspects to the translation itself (including but not limited to the way it handles gender language and the veiling of some important Messianic references).

I want to thank publicly Maureen (Moe) Girkins, President of Zondervan, for her transparent integrity in this process. I have the utmost respect for her. I also want to thank Professor Doug Moo, of the CBT, who has long been a hero of mine (along with his colleague and mine, Bruce Waltke). Though I disagree with Professor Moo’s public assessment of the relative correctness of the choices the TNIV made in relation to gender language, I honor him as a father in the faith and brother in the Lord, from whom I have learned more than I can adequately express, and for whom I have the highest esteem.

I also believe Ms. Girkins and Professor Moo implicitly when they say that the CBT is embarking upon: “a complete review of every gender-related change we have made in the TNIV” and that they are “actively seeking scholarly input" from anyone who would like to send it to them. I will personally avail myself of that opportunity with Professor Moo (and I have been expressly invited and encouraged to do so by Ms. Girkins).

When the TNIV first surfaced, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood [www.cbmw.org] emphatically criticized the CBT’s translation choices in numerous places, especially relating to gender-neutral language (see www.genderneutralbibles.com). We believe that a flawed translation philosophy resulted in the TNIV presenting English readers with an unjustified rendering of the gender language of the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the Bible. It is our sincere hope that this new revision of the NIV will do better. We await the new product of the CBT with expectancy. And when we have the opportunity, we will review it for the larger Christian public with rigor and charity.

I especially appreciate that Zondervan and Biblica have both privately and publicly acknowledged that they made serious mistakes of process, and that the CBT has committed itself to re-examine the gender-related changes that appeared in the TNIV. This is a welcome and humble approach.

May I also say (though this may come unlooked for and from an unexpected source), as the Chairman of CBMW, the quick reaction of some egalitarians in the blogosphere to Zondervan’s announcement, accusing Zondervan and the CBT of “caving in” to “fundamentalism" is uncharitable, inaccurate and unfair. There is every indication that the CBT aims to be true to its own translation philosophy, whatever the feedback of egalitarians or complementarians may be.