Saturday, March 3, 2012

You Say "Stop," I Say "Go, go, go"

The publisher of the NIV took a mulligan on the release of the 2005 TNIV and came out with a do-over NIV revision in form of the NIV 2011. Said publisher's marketing folk astutely dropped the TNIV moniker and the less-than-stellar pub that went with it and retained the better NIV reputation of the 1984-named version.

But this isn't really about that. Sort of, but not really. This is more about SBC polity, with the NIV 2011 issue providing an example. Because the messengers at the last convention weren't too impressed with the do-over effort. I do have a partially-formed, but not yet fully formed opinion about the NIV 2011. I may even blog about it at some point.

But the SBC messengers knew what they thought, or at least enough of them did, to pass the resolution titled "On the Gender-Neutral 2011 New International Version". Certainly it is acceptable for delegates to the convention of a major Protestant denomination to weigh in on a recent Bible translation release. The resolution encourages pastors to "make their congregations aware of the translation errors found in the 2011 NIV" and "respectfully request(s)" that LifeWay not sell the NIV 2011 in their bookstores.

And this is where ya gotta love SBC polity. Because LifeWay's response was to essentially say thanks but no thanks, they are still making the NIV 2011 available. A LifeWay article points out the resolution is non-binding and acknowledges it requests that LifeWay "consider not selling" the NIV 2011 in their stores, although that phrase contains a little spin. The resolution itself does not say anything about consider, it basically asks please don't do it guys (attn NIV 2011 translators: I'm using "guys" in the gender-neutral sense to include both genders. Now back to the blogpost). LifeWay did its own research and concluded that while they were not endorsing the NIV 2011, the issues raised did not warrant its removal from the shelves. Since none of the gender-neutral wording in the text was applied to the names of God, they felt okay to continue to offer the version. The trustee executive committee unanimously approved the decision of LifeWay to keep carrying the translation. For good measure LifeWay obtained the concurrence of SBC heavyweights Al Mohler, Jimmy Draper, Russell Moore, and others.

All of this, while perhaps confusing, is entirely within the realm of acceptable SBC procedure. The convention delegates can make their request known through the resolution process, but the resolution is not binding on LifeWay or on any SBC churches or their members. It appears LifeWay gave a respectful analysis of the concerns expressed in the resolution, appeared to agree with some of the concerns, but did not feel the translation's shortcomings reached a degree that required they not include the NIV 2011 among their available products. While they should show respect to the convention delegates, and it appears they did, the ultimate decision about LifeWay products rests with LifeWay and the trustee executive committee, not with the convention delegates. Still, it may be interesting to see if a response is issued at the upcoming SBC annual meeting.

Meanwhile, outside the SBC, it appears that John MacArthur has decided to release another MacArthur Study Bible , this time with the NIV 2011 text.

I wonder if it will be available in LifeWay bookstores.

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