The SBC Expresses “Disappointment” over the NIV 2011 Bible

Do you think the recent resolution from the SBC on the NIV 2011 translation has gone too far? I think it has. Let me know what you think.

Here’s the report from Baptist Press following the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, held June 14-15.

Resolutions: SBC tackles immigration, NIV

Posted on Jun 16, 2011 | by Tom Strode

In an unusual move, messengers called to the floor and passed a resolution on the “gender-neutral 2011 New International Version” (NIV) that was not reported to the convention by the Resolutions Committee….

The NIV resolution overwhelmingly approved by messengers “expressed profound disappointment” with publication of the new translation and “respectfully request[ed] that LifeWay” not sell the version in its stores.

The resolution came to the floor when Indiana pastor Tim Overton persuaded messengers to address the 2011 version of the popular translation that his resolution said had “gone beyond acceptable translation standards” regarding gender. His resolution said 75 percent of the flawed gender translation in the TNIV appears in the new NIV. Southern Baptist messengers expressed their disapproval of the TNIV in a 2002 resolution.

Overton, pastor of Halteman Village Baptist Church in Muncie, Ind., told messengers the Southern Baptist Convention needed to address the issue in its role as a leading voice in the evangelical Christian community.

Speaking for the committee regarding its decision not to present Overton’s measure, Russell Moore said the members did not believe the issue “rose to the level of needing to be addressed by this year’s convention.” Moore said the TNIV was “something of a stealth move,” which was not true in this case. He also said the NIV is not in the same position now as it was in the past, since such translations as the Holman Christian Standard Bible and English Standard Version are now available. He also said the NIV is “just one of many Bibles out there [with] similar language.”

The committee did not oppose passage of the resolution. At the news conference, Moore said, “The committee, of course, shares the concerns that were expressed in the resolution. The issue was not whether or not we would affirm the NIV and its changes but whether or not we thought the current changes were worthy of being addressed” at this year’s meeting.

Moore is dean of the school of theology and senior vice president for academic administration at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as teaching pastor for Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.


10 thoughts on “The SBC Expresses “Disappointment” over the NIV 2011 Bible

  1. Jason June 20, 2011 / 1:46 pm

    I am SBC and I think this is silly.

  2. CD-Host June 22, 2011 / 9:37 am

    SBC makes money on the HCSB which is basically at the same place in the right / left axis. The leadership is to the right, and more Calvinist than the churches in general and sees the ESV as meeting the needs of the right wing. Tyndale is doing terrific stuff with the NLTse in terms of building a whole infrastructure of support. To the point that even someone who is a snotty about translation, like myself, would be hard pressed not to recommend this as the standard for most small group studies in evangelical churches; and seriously considering it as the pew bible.

    I’ve been saying for years once it became clear that Zondervan was, for political reasons, not going to be willing to defend the TNIV in a serious way, that I think Zondervan should admit defeat and just move left on their bible translation. The TNIV/NIV2011 is unfairly now seen as the left most bible evangelical bible because of the 1990s campaign. They can use that to their advantage rather than try and take half measures to apease the bullies.

    In terms of the mainline denominations:
    The NRSV is a good formal translation but there is clearly a demand for something more dynamic.
    The CEB is mostly unimpressive and its hard to imagine it getting an entire infrastructure of support literature.

    So IMHO Zondervan should push the TNIV/NIV2011 further left, which probably means nothing more than then some obvious verse revisions and then revise the study notes a bit, and there is a good quality left protestant mediating translation, with an entire infrastructure of support literature. And that’s an underserved market.

    I’m not sure why Zondervan is fighting so hard for 3rd place in the Evangelical market. Their evangelical books can be based on the HCSB or NLT depending on which they consider less problematic and then in a generation they can take another swing at being a publisher of the big number evangelical bible.

    Plus they own the rights to the AMP. Charismatics like the AMP and I suspect it could be pushed to that community or other communities if they gave up on winning the “standard translation” battle. A few million dollar promotional campaign with the AMP might do wonders in making that a bible of choice. Then we would be doing comparisons of the AMP to Nelson’s Expanded which AFAICT no one has really sunk their teeth into.

  3. Nazaroo June 23, 2011 / 3:13 am

    Here’s my first thought:

    The majority of string-pullers don’t care about accuracy of translation or truth, nor about the best NT text. Even the second commenter here has spent his energy discussing markets and positioning strategies, instead of facing the fact-issues and doctrinal issues of translations that play fast and loose with the original text.

    I was going to comment on how the voters were betrayed by having their key vote simply go unreported to the convention. Who ever heard of such dishonest and stealthy operations? Even big corporations, while they might have private board meetings, nonetheless are obligated to report to and listen to shareholders and other stake-holders. This stinks to high heaven.

    But I have to put that issue aside, as important as it is, to comment on the 2nd commenter’s other statement:

    CD-HOST: “The NRSV is a good formal translation…”

    Wow! What a zinger! the Metzger-based perversion of the Christian O.T. is a “good translation”?!?!??

    Perhaps CD-HOST has been asleep for the past 30 years of evaluation-history of this complete betrayal of the Christian Holy Scriptures in favor of Jewish-Atheist modernism, anti-supernaturalism, and anti-Christ OT prophecy obscurantism.

    The following is a succinct explanation for the RSV O.T. fiasco:

    “The RSV Old Testament was not well received outside of liberal circles, chiefly because the translators often deliberately rendered Old Testament passages in such a way that they were contrary to the interpretations given in the New Testament. This was done on the principle that the Old Testament ought to be interpreted only in reference to its own historical (Jewish) context.
    Christian interpretations, including those of the NT writers, are therefore deliberately excluded as “anachronistic.” But this, as conservative critics perceived, practically amounted to a denial of the truth of the New Testament. As the conservative scholar R. Laird Harris wrote,

    “It is a curious study to check the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, a monument of higher critical scholarship, and note how every important Old Testament passage purporting to predict directly the coming of Christ has been altered so as to remove this possibility … It is almost impossible to escape the conclusion that the admittedly higher critical bias of the translators has operated in all of these places. The translations given are by no means necessary from the Hebrew and in some cases … are in clear violation of the Hebrew.” (4)

    The verse most often mentioned by conservatives was Isaiah 7:14, in which the RSV translators rendered the Hebrew word almah as “young woman” instead of “virgin.” While this was not a case of a clear violation of the Hebrew (the word must be interpreted according to its context), it was by no means necessary. (5)
    And there were many other instances of the same problem, which revealed a pattern of systematic contradiction of the New Testament interpretations of Old Testament passages. For example, in Genesis 22:18 the RSV renders an ambiguous sentence as “by your descendents shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves” contrary to the interpretation given by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 3:8 and 3:16.

    The contradictions foisted into the Bible by the RSV translators included also some renderings which created blatant contradictions within individual books. For example, in Genesis 9:20, where the ASV had read, “And Noah began to be a husbandman” (i.e. a farmer) the RSV reads “Noah was the first tiller of the soil,” thus generating a contradiction with the statements in Genesis 3:22 (“the LORD God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden to till the ground”) and 4:2 (“Cain was a tiller of the ground”). It was the belief of the RSV translators that the Book of Genesis is composed of traditional stories that frequently contradict each other, cobbled together by editors who neglected to harmonize them in many places.

    The objections of conservatives to the RSV were not merely captious criticisms concerning the meaning of a word here and there; the controversy was about whether or not a version of the Old Testament which ignores and contradicts the New Testament, as well as itself, in so many places, has any right to be received as the standard Bible of American churches.”

    – Michael Marlowe, Bible

    • CD-Host June 23, 2011 / 9:20 am

      Wow lot to reply to there. I’ll fork of the TNIV stuff from the RSV stuff.

      First off I’ve written about the various manuscripts and text types a lot, the idea that I don’t care is really contradicted by the bulk of my writings. But the debate here, ESV / HCSB vs. TNIV is all within the confines of bibles that are using the UBS originals; though technically CBT uses its only slightly modified version of the NA27 which it publishes. It simply wasn’t relevant to this discussion. Further my response had to do with Zondervan not CBT. Zondervan to the best of my knowledge has never weighed in on these issues at all.

      Zondervan is a corporation that takes a bible translation and reselles it along with a collection of support literature. I assume they also care about text types, but ultimately they have to reach a market. My point about their strategy is that it is not even in their financial best interests. My disagreement with their current strategy is ultimately financial. I happen to think the TNIV was pretty good, and an improvement on the NIV.

      But that entire line is now effectively dying due to the 90’s controversy. Whether from lack of competence or lack of desire Zondervan didn’t fight the battle successfully at the time. So the question becomes what do they do now for the franchise. Things like the SBC resolution in my mind prove that their current strategy is a bad one, from the standpoint of maintaining a franchise of a bible translation and support literature.

    • CD-Host June 23, 2011 / 9:57 am

      OK now lets get to the NRSV. First off I happen to like Michael Marlowe a lot and have great respect for his accuracy, even when I disagree with his strongly I find him charitable and honest. That a model that Christian debate should aim towards.

      Now there is no question that the RSV moved left from the KJV/RV/EV/ASV. Liberal Protestants for a long time have objected to a translation of the Hebrew (MT) pulling in information from the New Testament, since when the the New Testament diverges from the MT those divergences appear to be primarily based on the LXX not an alternate text stream of the MT. For them using the New Testament authors to correct the English translation, would be like using the textual notes in the German Luther bible to override English translations because one respects Luther so much and considers these so important.

      If you read Marlowe’s essay, it crucially depends on inerrancy. For Marlowe, the author of Matthew is not just some important guy responding to LXX tradition in a historical work that later goes on to be widely read and extremely important; but rather is receiving diving guidance and is making inerrant statements about scripture. That distinction is absolutely key for Marlowe’s argument, reject the premise you reject the conclusion. Liberal Protestants reject the premise then and now. The NRSV is designed to serve the liberal not the conservative protestant community.

      As far as me personally, I have strong objections to using a “theological override” of the Hebrew text, and not footnoting. “virgin [31]” 31 Hebrew reads “young woman” in place of virgin…. That’s been my primary objection to the ESV that engages in these theological overrides and doesn’t footnote so that a reader has no idea when they are reading a verse that accurately reflects the Hebrew and when they are reading a verse that accurately reflects Christian tradition about the Hebrew but does not accurately reflect the Hebrew.

      As an aside if you want a more liberal translation that does support the NT reading the NETS, New English Translation of the Septuagint, (not to be confused with the NET = New Evangelical Translation out of Dallas Theological).

  4. Bob Hayton June 23, 2011 / 8:20 am


    You cited stuff against the RSV, not the NRSV. Did the NRSV come back from any of those errors? And they are errors when speaking from a conservative doctrinal vantage point (so I’m with you), but CD-Host is not speaking from that vantage point, as even his post here implies. He’s arguing for a liberal Protestant translation (which is obviously the audience the NRSV caters to). It is formal, and many of the translations of the RSV which were questioned were not questioned on the basis of it not being literal, but making non-Christian literal choices intentionally – as in Is. 7:14. The Hebrew term is ambiguous after all.

    • CD-Host June 23, 2011 / 10:03 am

      Bob —

      There were minor adjustments regarding the treatment of the OT in the NRSV from its treatment in the RSV. But the objection that Naz is pointing to in the RSV is equally present in the NRSV. I don’t have any objection to considering the critique of the RSV’s OT to apply to the NRSV’s.

      Where there has been change, which isn’t much, its been in the opposite direction. The NISB and the Harper Collins Study Bible responds heavily to analysis from Jewish interpreters, so those are now put on an genuinely equal footing.

  5. Bob Hayton June 23, 2011 / 8:21 am

    Also, I think the HCSB has nothing to do with this resolution, either. The average church goers, from whose rank this resolution seemed to swell, don’t profit off the HCSB. Personally the HCSB seems stilted and awkward and doesn’t seem to fill any real need in the market place, unless it is for an overtly Baptist translation.

  6. James Snapp, Jr. June 30, 2011 / 10:45 pm


    My friend Mike has a book called “The New International Rules of Baseball” that he wants to sell to me and my baseball team. The last edition seemed to favor one particular team, but he says that those concerns have been taken care of. Honest. Oh, and, he reserves the right to re-write the book at any time and re-issue it with the same title.

    Meanwhile, I and all my teammates already have copies of a very similar book, “The Standard Rules of Baseball.” We all like it and have found that it does not favor one team over another.

    Why would I endorse Mike’s book?

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

    • Erik DiVietro July 3, 2011 / 7:36 pm

      [humor]Is that the American League Standard Rules or the National League?[/humor]

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