Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Anti-Semitic sensitivity in the new NIV

The updated New International Version of the Bible is now available online at Biblegateway.com. It is set to be in print by early next year. The WELS has formed an official committee to review this new translation, to see if it will be an acceptable replacement for the 1984 version of the NIV, which will supposedly cease to be in print once the new version is published. Since the NIV is the translation that WELS has decided to use in all its publications for the last 25 years, this is a big deal.

We won’t be able to offer a complete review of the © 2010 NIV here at IL, but as we are able, we’ll critique it little by little.

As I was doing some sermon work for Advent 4 (John 1:19-28 - Historic Lectionary), I noticed a subtle change in wording in the new NIV.

1984 NIV
    John 1:19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was.

2010 NIV
    John 1:19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leadersa in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was.

The same change had been made in the widely rejected Today’s New International Version (© 2005), but the 2010 version adds the following footnote that was not in the 2005 version:

Footnotes:
    a John 1:19: The Greek term traditionally translated the Jews (hoi Ioudaioi) refers here and elsewhere in John’s Gospel to those Jewish leaders who opposed Jesus; also in 5:10, 15, 16; 7:1, 11, 13; 9:22; 18:14, 28, 36; 19:7, 12, 31, 38; 20:19.

The phrase “the Jews” (hoi Ioudaioi) occurs 59 times in the Gospel of John and 48 times in the Book of Acts. The 2010 NIV alters this simple phrase 30/59 times in John and 20/48 times in the Book of Acts.

Whenever “the Jews” are spoken of kindly or in a neutral way, the phrase “the Jews” is left alone.

Whenever “the Jews” are persecuting Jesus or his disciples, the phrase is altered or qualified. “The Jews there” (Jn. 6:41). “They” (Jn. 8:52). “The Jews who were there gathered around him” (Jn. 10:24). “His Jewish opponents” (Jn. 10:31). “The Jews gathered there” (Jn. 19:4). “The Jewish leaders insisted” (Jn. 19:7). “Other Jews” (Acts 17:5). “Some of them” (Acts 17:13).

There is also a subtle change in translation in Matthew 27:25:

1984 NIV
    All the people answered, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”

2010 NIV
    All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”


Since the Greek has no verb here, one must be supplied. The KJV, NKJV, ESV, NIV 1984, NASB, and Luther 1545 all translate with a form of the subjunctive: “Let it be…”

The change to “is” is, again, a subtle change, and we would have no argument against it as an isolated grammatical decision, since we don’t believe that the Jews gathered there on Good Friday invoked some sort of divinely inspired perpetual curse on all those of Jewish descent in the future. This verse has been misused by some as a twisted sort of approbation of the mistreatment of Jews over the centuries.

But when viewed in the light of all the other changes in language in the NIV 2010, this change seems to indicate a hypersensitivity to the perceived anti-Semitic nature of this verse. “His blood is on us and on our children!” keeps any perceived curse in the present tense, that is, to those Jews gathered there on that day and their immediate children.

The problem with all these changes is that none of them is called for grammatically. In many cases, the plain Word of God is being added to or changed, not for the sake of good English grammar, but for the sake of political correctness. This is unacceptable.

We all know there is no perfect translation of Holy Scripture. And we may not all agree that the NIV is the best translation for use in our churches. The updated translation is providing our synod with a wonderful opportunity to evaluate other translations, and to move in a different direction if the new translation fails the test.

I hope the translation committee takes the anti-Semitic hypersensitivity into account as they carry out their critical evaluation. We’ll continue our critique as issues are identified.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm curious to know what you think of the gender neutrality in the NIV 2011. A lot of the verses read like the TNIV (2005).

Andy Groenwald

Pr Mark Henderson said...

A valuable post, Pr Rydecki; I appreciate others making available their notes on the new NIV. Re John's peculiar usage of "the Jews" thoughout his Gospel, I know this has been the subject of scholarly discussion for some decades. George Beasley-Murray has an interesting footnote on p 20 of his generally very good commentary (in the Word series, Thomas Nelson, 1999) which would seem to support the option of the 2010 NIV translation. So, I wonder whether it is not bowing to political correctness, but a desire to render John's meaning in each usage, which is behind the NIV trans committee's decision here - we know the NIV is most often going to favour meaning over literalness as it is part of their translation philosophy. I don't wish to defend that decision here, just point out a possible alternative explanation.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Gender neutrality will most definitely be the subject of another post on the NIV 2010. Here's an example of both a needless neutrality coupled with terrible grammar:

John 11:25 - Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;"

From the portions I've read so far, they seem to go just as far overboard with the gender neutrality as the 2005 version did. I guess they thought that by saying "mankind" occasionally instead of "people" they would appease the masses who rejected the TNIV.

I remain unappeased.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Pr. Henderson,

Thanks for that reference. I haven't read that commentary yet. I wonder if the Acts commentary says something similar, since John and Acts seem to be the two NT books that use the phrase "the Jews" over and over again. It hardly occurs in the synoptic Gospels.

In some cases, my problem is not with the meaning. To say "some of the Jews" is obviously correct, because it's clear that not "all the Jews" were trying to kill Jesus.

And yet, in some cases, we should not believe that it was only the Jewish leaders who rejected Jesus, or else all of Peter's Pentecost and post-Pentecost sermons condemning the Jews of Jerusalem would have to be restricted to the Jewish leaders as well, when, in fact, most of the Jewish leaders remained unconvinced.

Even further, my problem with it is that John says what he says, ergo, the Holy Spirit inspired what He wanted to inspire. And the Church has known for many centuries that John was not issuing a plenary condemnation on the Jewish race in what he wrote - we don't need new scholarship to bring that to light.

But the common English translations (including NIV 1984) have still stuck to the text, letting the reader understand the meaning from context. This innovation in 2010 does not represent new scholarship, but a new philosophy in translation.

Anonymous said...

Pr. Rydecki, I will look forward to reading what you have to say about the feminization of the new NIV . On another note, I've always been confused why so few people use the NASB. It's totally literal and unambiguous. I think the WELS should adopt it.
--Andy Groenwald

Anonymous said...

Pr. Rydecki,

An interesting post. Before proceeding I have to allow that I comment as a layman with no knowledge of Greek so I willingly submit to correction.

I agree with taking caution at the Gospel of John translation. The footnote you cited suggested to me that the translators took it upon themselves to insert words into the text to place the events described there "in context." This is almost an admission that the translation is inaccurate. Even were this for a "good purpose" I don't see how it could be acceptable.

However, I'm not bothered by the translation of Matthew 27:25 even though the difference jumped out at me more than the changes made to John. In talking to some people today I sometimes wonder how many people understand the use of the subjunctive anymore, or even recognize it.

Daniel Baker said...

Over the past few weeks I have been studying the concept of Absolution in the Confessions. Article VI of the Apology credits the institution of Absolution to the citation of Luke 24:47; out of curiosity, I decided to compare this verse in the new NIV with the old one.

Luke 24:47 (New International Version 1984, ©1984)

and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Luke 24:47 (New International Version, ©2010)

and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. --

Now, I am no Greek expert, so perhaps this change is really insignificant. The word "for" is substituted for "and" (incidentally, the KJV also uses the word "and" in this verse). To me, this is implying that our repentance merits the forgiveness of Christ. Certainly, Christ's forgiveness is granted by no work of our own, but rather by the grace of God through faith in His Son. This is just one of the many seemingly subtle but oh-so-grave changes that I have discovered in the "new and improved" NIV thus far.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Dear commenter above,

Glad to have your comments! If you wouldn't mind including your name next time, we'd appreciate it. We're trying to keep the discussion among "real people," that is, that we may know at least the names of those to whom we are speaking.

I agree with you that Matthew 27:25 is a perfectly acceptable translation, and I certainly wouldn't reject NIV 2010 over that. It's a far cry better than the additions and changes they've made in the other cases. I merely cited it as what seems to me to be another indicator of a certain philosophical bent.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Daniel,

I'll comment briefly on that now. The new translation of Luke 24:47 is based on a variant reading in a few Greek manuscripts. "Repentance for the forgiveness of sins" is actually the preferred reading in the Fourth Revised Edition of the United Bible Society (UBS) Greek New Testament.

Of course, the question is, should that reading be preferred to the other reading of "and"? Let me see what I can remember from my studies of textual criticism.

There are two or three overarching factors in weighing which text is to be preferred: (1) How ancient is the reading? And (2) how widespread is the reading? A third, more subjective factor, is (3) can the variant be explained, and which reading fits the context better?

The reading "for" is very ancient, dating back to the early third century A.D. However, it is found in only a few manuscripts, almost all of which are from the region of Egypt. There are uncontested examples of the phrase "repentance for the forgiveness of sins" in Mark 1:4 and Luke 3:3.

The reading "and" dates back to the fifth century (still quite ancient as these things go) and is much more widespread, including regions of Egypt, Syria, Arminia, Italy, etc. It is the reading that the majority of the Church Fathers knew and followed. And Acts 5:31 has Peter declaring that Christ was to give repentance "and" forgiveness of sins to Israel.

This seems like a clear case to me in which the currently "unpreferred" reading of "and" should be the "preferred" reading.

Does it create a false doctrine to say "for"? Of course not. Is there some evidential justification in translating "for"? Yes, there is. But sometimes these editors give more credence than they ought to how ancient a variant reading is. I think "and" is the better reading, and wish that NIV 2010 had retained it.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

In addition, I just looked up Acts 5:31 in the NIV 2010. It reads:

"God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins."

The 1984 version said, "...that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel."

The 1984 version is much more literal. The updated version is a clear example of interpretation rather than translation. It goes against all the literal English translations of the Bible. Another negative checkmark for the new NIV, as far as I'm concerned.

Joseph Schmidt said...

Developing new English versions of the Bible is a complete waste of money. That money would have been better spent translating the Bible into other languages.

Tim Niedfeldt said...

I have to agree Joe. How long until we have our yearly/weekly bible updates downloaded through Windows Update. As for me I'm content now in the New King James version. I hope the WELS would consider that.

Tim Niedfeldt

Daniel Baker said...

Pastor Rydecki,

Thank you for the context regarding Luke 24:47, as well as the additional example of the poorly translated passage from Acts. I would agree that this and other "improvements" that the 2010 edition includes do not necessarily create "false doctrine," as they can be properly understood from a Lutheran perspective. However, if one is approaching it from a faulty theological perspective, many of these changes could be misleading. In any event, I'm curious to see what our synod is going to do.

Anonymous said...

Joe Schmidt.
Timmy Niedfelt.

You guys are the sunshine to my cloudy day.
The sugar in my lemonade.
The nicotine in my tobacco.

Who down with KJV (ya you know me!)

Sorry...what I meant to say is "I agree with you completely"

Andy Groenwald

David J. Sigrist said...

Thank you for your post Pastor Rydecki! There certainly has been a lot of buzz concerning the NIV 2010, and rightly so for the reasons you stated.

This is my first time looking at this blog. Your main point is well-taken, that any changes in biblical translations are to be considered on the basis of advances in scholarship, and not on the maintaining political correctness.

So keeping that principle in mind, the following has been my view in regards to John’s use of οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι in his gospel, for what it’s worth here:

John tends to use more regional terms to designate the different groups Jesus encountered in his ministry such as Samaritans, Galileans, Romans, Greeks (if this was a paper and not a blog post, I’d include all the references) than the other Evangelists. He seems to want to distinguish how each group, generally speaking, received Jesus’ gospel.

So consequently, there are 30 passages where οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι occurs in his Gospel, and in every reference (except perhaps 6:41, 52 where people may have come from Judea since Jesus was well-known by this time in his ministry), the phrase specifically refers to those from or in Judea, as opposed to Galilee, the other Roman tetrarchies, or those visiting from the Diaspora groups. Therefore grammatically and contextually, that is, in the context of John’s own use of this term in his Gospel, the most plausible meaning is “Judean,” that is, those from or in Judea. For this reason, “Judean” is a recognized vocable meaning of the root Ἰουδαι- in respected scholarly lexicons such as BDAG.

In addition, given the context of the discussion about political correctness in regards to Anti-Semitism in biblical translation, it’s worth mentioning that the English term “Jew” has had a checkered use over the centuries. It would take volumes to analyze its use, but it is notable that the use of the term to broadly refer to “God’s people” as a whole (however “God’s people” can be adequately defined!) has its origins in the post-exilic period, which is why in the Hebrew Bible we see it so prevalently used in Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. Etymologically it refers to someone from the Israelite tribe of Judah.

Basically said, I would translate οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι as “the Judeans” in John’s Gospel.

In regards to Matthew 27:25, it’s hard to critique the committee’s decision, as you stated, since there is debate as to the nuanced meaning of this verb-less construction. I admit I haven’t done a thorough analysis of how the NIV 2010 takes these constructions in other passages, but what I do find peculiar is that in Paul’s common greeting of “Grace and peace…” the NIV 2010 rides the fence and translates, “Grace and peace to you,” and not “Grace and peace are yours” or “Grace and peace be to you” as The Committee of Bible Translation did with Matthew 27:25 for the 1984 and the 2010 NIV.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

David,

Thanks for your comments! John's regional references make sense. You're right that the term "Jew" has developed historical connotations and may well be replaced by "Judeans" in many cases.

The use of the word in John 4, however, seems to indicate that it's not merely a regional word, but has to do as well with the religion of the Jewish people. The Samaritan woman calls Jesus a "Jew," even though he was from Galilee and, presumably, had the same Galilean accent that marked his disciples.

And then Jesus tells her, "salvation is from the Jews." Even though Jerusalem is part of their discussion, Jesus' statement can't be seen to refer to the region, but rather to the religion (and perhaps also the nationality).

So it certainly merits more thought. In any case, the NIV's translation committee tips its hand when it leaves the phrase "the Jews" intact when mentioned in a neutral context, but adds a qualification when mentioned in a negative context.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree and disagree with Joseph Schmidt. Yes, with already good translatios out there, it would seem to be a waste to you and me. But It is not a huge watse of money, it is going to mean huge money to the various Bible publishers.
You can spend some of your money on helping the Bible be translated into completely new languages. I do. Wycliffe Bible Translators has translators all over the world reaching small language groups with just a few thousand speakers in the groups. A friend of mine is doing just that and I support him with some of my money.

Jim Huwe

Anonymous said...

Pr. Rydecki-

"If you wouldn't mind including your name next time, we'd appreciate it." Point taken, no sneaking in and out of the back pew!

David Sigrist's additions were very enlightening, I'm glad I returned.

Paul O'Malley

BigDavz0r said...

Thanks for mentioning John 4. I was going to mention it, in addition to John 6, but didn’t. Perhaps I should’ve. You are right that it indicates the religion of the whole people when Jesus says, “salvation comes from the Jews.” Perhaps Jesus had in mind that the Messiah was coming to come from the tribe of Judah? And in the conversation the salvation that comes from Jerusalem in Judea was in the forefront since the place of worship was contentious issue with the Samaritans. And about John 4:9, where Jesus is called a “Jew,” I’m not sure precisely how to take it in regards to this issue. True, he’d have a similar accent to Peter, if not the exact same, which was recognized by the Judeans when Peter denied knowing Jesus, but would the woman have so readily recognized it as Galilean? It’s likely, but I’m not sure. Definitely a Judean would more readily recognize it as foreign, their own accent being Judean, than a Samaritan, judging between two foreign accents. We should keep in mind, too, that Jesus was coming from Judea, so the woman would more naturally associate him with Judean/Jew. I’m not saying it’s a cut-and-dry case in every single use, and I was talking more about the uses of οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι specifically, plural with article. It’d be revealing to see a study done on all the issues of the term! There certainly are spots where the use isn’t crystal clear as a regional term like you mentioned. But they do seem to be the exception, not the rule, in John’s Gospel. Translation is often an art, not a science, and an imperfect one at that!

But you’re point is definitely worthy of consideration, Pastor Rydecki, that The Committee of Bible Translation does a peculiar thing when it leaves the phrase, “the Jews” intact, as you put it, in a neutral context, but adds this qualification of leadership when mentioned in a negative one. The only thing I could grant them is that the leaders from Judea were definitely the leaders of the whole people, but does that warrant limiting the phrase so much whenever mentioned in a negative context, as if to say that there weren’t any sizable group of Judeans who were not leaders who did oppose Jesus?

ds20047 said...

I am also not happy with the current revision of the NIV. I don't appreciate the fact that Bible Gateway is using it as their default translation.

I have heard that the LCMS isn't all that pleased either, so they have been favoring the ESV. I decided to test the ESV beginning with Series A this year. So far, I don't mind it; however I prefer the flow of the NIV. I find the ESV reads more like the NKJV--not that this is a problem, just personal preference.

--Dr. Daniel Schroeder

Pastor Boehringer said...

At the Western Wisconsin District's teacher-pastor conference in Watertown yesterday (June 7, 2011) John Braun, a member of the Translation Review Committee, announced that the Committee is recommending adoption of the 2011 NIV for our NPH publications. (http://www.wels.net/news-events/forward-in-christ/bible-revision-new-international-version-2010)

I hope that the Synod-in-convention this July seriously considers an alternative to Zondervan's rapid and unilateral revision and to our Committee's recommendation: a joint project of the WELS and the ELS to produce a confessional Lutheran Bible translation.

I can't think of a better gift to the Church-at-large for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation than a translation that captures the majestic promises of the Messianic psalms, that is clear about our roles as women and men, and leaves fashionable gender politics out of Scripture. These are just a few issues with the NIV 2011 and other translations. We want a Bible that is allowed to speak for itself.

We can do this! I believe that our congregations would rally around an opportunity to support a project of this magnitude and importance.

In the spirit of being proactive, having our own translation doesn't make us a cult. (Those who consider us a cult already do, and many of them currently belong to our synod or have already left it.) Instead of isolating us from communion of saints, our own translation will give us something valuable to share with the wider Church.

I don't want to be held captive to every future change that Zondervan, Biblica, and the Committee on Bible Translation deem necessary. (Their decision not to offer the NIV 1984 alongside this new revision strikes me as odd. I've asked them to comment on this strange business decision, but have received no answer. I asked John Braun to pass along my question to them.)

Let's not settle for the "best current option." Let's spend the time and treasure now to bring the Scriptures to life with clarity and boldness!

We can do this by God's grace.

In Christ and Him crucified,
Pastor Luke Boehringer

Pr. Benjamin Tomczak said...

On Monday, the South Central District met for pre-Synod Convention business and sent a memorial to the Synod in Convention resolving

"that we urge the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod in its 2011 convention to commission a thorough study of the other leading options among the current Bible translations for use in our publications (An American Translation [AAT, Beck], English Standard Version [ESV], Holman Christian Standard Bible [HCSB], New American Standard Bible [NASB], and New King James Version [NKJV]), to be reported to the constituency of our synod; and be it further

"resolved, that we urge this study to be conducted with the serious consideration that one of these other translations may be more appropriate for use in WELS publications; and be it further

"resolved,that we urge the 2011 convention to make no decision regarding which translation the WELS will use in its official publications."

For the full memorial with whereas' and what not, go to http://scdwels.wordpress.com/reports/

This is not to speak against your motion, Luke, of producing a Lutheran translation and (perhaps also) study Bible.

We discussed, briefly, the merits of a translation, and one of our pastors (and co-author of this memorial) spoke positively for our ability to do what your asking -- produce such a translation. He also pooh-poohed, as you did, the cult-like aspect of such a project. He honestly believes the day of a "universal" translation across English-speaking Christendom (a la KJV and NIV84) is over. It's a translation time of the Judges.

What a thought -- celebrate the anniversary of the Reformation with not just a new hymnal (which is planned for 2024) but with a new Bible translation!

Here's the "meantime" question, which my Lutheran grade school teacher wife brought up -- what do our schools do in the meantime while we're up in the air about a translation (and perhaps for a time without the "approved" NIV unless Biblica extends our usage permission past 2013)?

Grace and peace,
Pr. Benjamin Tomczak

Anonymous said...

I'm assuming you all have seen this, but in case you haven't...

http://www.wels.net/sites/wels/files/BORAM2011_supplemental_translationevaluationcommittee.pdf

Tammy Jochman

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Pastors Boehringer and Tomczak,

Thanks very much for your insights, and a special thanks to the South Central District for a very prudent memorial. It will get our full support here on IL. We are NOT in favor of the new NIV, and are disappointed that it alone was given attention by the synodical translation committee.

We've been planning some posts on translation issues for awhile now. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks.

Lund Family said...

Thanks to the pastors and too the translation committee for the hard work put in on the NNIV. Having the NNIV sprung on the Christian world in the way it was done has made things chaotic given the time tables. I appreciate the extra work the assessment of the NNIV took in such a short time.

That being said, I think it wise to heed the cliche, "haste makes waste". While the publishers of the NNIV are in a hurry, we should be diligent and take more time to assess all our options for the translations that might be selected from for our publications.

That being said, whichever translation is used, efforts must be made in continuing education to look at those areas in the particular translation that are weak or significantly weak in theology so our pastors can teach and preach the meaning to the laity. As I have said before, words have meaning and being able to communicate the truth of the Bible is so important when dealing with any Bible translation.

Let us pray that we strengthen our language courses and have high expectations of our pastors in Greek and Hebrew. I know we are strong when compared to many other denominations, but we should strive for continual improvement so as to better deal with whichever Bible translation we use in our churches.

God's blessings to all who work so diligently.

AP said...

There is another issue to this explosion of new English language translations and revisions that I really do not see many people talking about. Money.

The simple fact is that Bible publishing has become a billion dollar industry in the U.S. The NIV is published by Zondervan. Zondervan is owned by Harper Collins. Harper Collins is owned by News Corp (i.e. Rupert Murdoch / Fox News / Fox Television Network). Ironically, the same company that brought you Family Guy and American Idol is also bringing you NIV 2011. News Corp is a publicly traded company that exists to make a profit. Zondervan is part of that bottom line. The NIV 2011 will no doubt contribute to News Corp's bottom line.

Now, I am not saying that a profit motive influenced the translation committee of the NIV 2011. I am though saying that a profit motive is at least partly responsible for there even being an NIV 2011, and I think it is worth asking how that might have influenced the end result. Has the English language really changed that much since 1984? Do we really want to tinker with God's word to make it more politically correct or palatable on so-called sensitive issues? If profit were really not a motive, then why get rid of the 1984 version? Well, maybe because doing so forces anyone wanting to by a new NIV to buy the NIV 2011, which means lots of new books sold. This 2006 article from the New Yorker on the Bible industry might be informative:

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/12/18/061218fa_fact1?currentPage=1


Personally, I think we are best served with either an updated KJV or the ESV. For my own Bible study, I rely on the original KJV and the ESV / Lutheran Study Bible from Concordia. I also do not buy the argument that we should stick with the NIV 2011 because we are "used to it." We'll get used to something else (and something better) quickly enough.

Dr. Aaron Palmer

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, the committee is not recommending the NNIV, but saying that it would appear to be the best option, and to study it further for some time. Correct?

One thing I wrestle with. I know all WELS pastors are trained in Greek and Hebrew, but as one who has studied foreign languages, I also know that even fluency in another language does not make one an expert on it. The ability to translate probably does not make one qualified to assess translations. There are three professors on that committee. I've heard that when it comes to linguistics, they are the three sharpest minds we have in WELS. I've heard that they are solid, confessional Lutheran men. I'm not saying that one automatically accepts what they recommend. That wouldn't be healthy. But I also wonder if its unhealthy to give the same weight to all voices in the WELS on this issue, when undoubtedly there is not going to be similar levels of expertise. Thoughts?

Daniel Kastens

Pr. Benjamin Tomczak said...

Mr. Kastens ~

On the one hand, the Committee does say, "We do not expect the 2011 Convention to decide this." On the other hand they write: "We as a committee therefore wonder if a consensus could be ratified in some way prior to the 2013 synod convention" (Supplemental Report, lines 441-442; you can find this report at the WELS Convention website under "Supplemental Info").

So, just how much time is being allowed?

This is a pretty major decision. I'd be willing to have a "dead space" or delay in a couple of projects, that compared to the translation of our Bible pale in comparison (or a translation time of the Judges, where everybody does as they see fit), where we figure things out if Biblica is so unrelenting as to not extend our NIV usage past 2013.

And, while I agree, we have some pretty sharp guys on this committee, they aren't the only sharp guys in our circles. Nor are those whose voices are raised against the NIV2011 (an entire District has already spoken, and I know of another considering (passing?) a similar memorial) only to be found in the Wisconsin Synod. Others have been criticizing Zondervan/Biblica for years (since the attempted release of the TNIV, much of which has been incorporated into this revision of the NIV).

As they say, "Where there's smoke, there's fire." It might just be possible that all this criticism is warranted and might want to make us rethink our continued connections to the NIV. It might be that we determine that the NIV is the best possible choice. But I'd like that to be after some significant Synod-wide study and discussion, not just after the adoption of a small-committee report under the perceived pressure of "We've got all these projects we've GOT TO GET DONE NOW!"

Grace and peace,
Pr. Benjamin Tomczak
St. Mark Lutheran, Duncanville, TX

Anonymous said...

I am happy to see these comments concerning the acceptance of the NNIV. Why on earth are we allowing non-Christians to dictate what does and does not belong in the Bible? Also, the "cool-dude" wording does not belong in God'd Word. For example, in Genesis 4:1 the KJV says "knew", the NIV says "lay with", and the NNIV says words that would be embarrassing to read in Bible Class. The Church and Change/Church Growth advacates in the synod are our connection to these outside the framework of fellowship people that were discussed in the above comments. One more thing! Without typing a long speech, Zionism and so-called Christian Zionism are false teachings.

In Christ,
Rebecca Quam

Anonymous said...

I'm curious. It's seems like the translation committee identified that none of the other available translations out there are "better" than the NNIV. They state more than once that no translation is going to be perfect. They then gravitate towards the NNIV because, while it has weaknesses (by the committee's own admission) they aren't as great as other translations. Thus, if the synod in convention rejects the NNIV, it probably would reject others too.

That leaves the option of producing a WELS translation.

There is the concern some have voiced about it being "cultish." I'm not sure I agree with that fear. Marketing would be important. If it's marketed as "the one good translation," then the WELS will just come across as arrogant asses, not really cultish. But if it's marketed as a translation that strives for faithful rendering of the original combined with a high level of readability, I think it might be accepted just fine. There are already a zillion-and-one translations out there.

My question is this. How do we go about that? Wasn't the NIV produced by something like two dozen different scholars? Do you give language professors at the college or seminary a year sabbatical? Do you ask some pastors who are skilled in this area to do some translating part time? How do you identify those pastors? How many pastors are actually capable of doing this, verses simply THINKING they are capable of doing this? As this translation develops, how is it reviewed? By how many people?

And finally, what is the acceptable cost? Are the NNIV and other translations so bad that we're willing to accept any financial cost, as well as the cost of time invested as men are pulled away from their normal ministries?

I think the idea of producing a translation for the anniversary is a lofty one. I think the logistics are massive. (And that's sort of my area! Nuts and bolts logistics. Lol.)

God bless your weekend!

Daniel Kastens

Rev. Paul Rydecki said...

I'm afraid the translation committee did NOT do a thorough review of the other translations. That was their original assignment, as I understand it, but when the new NIV came out online sooner than expected, their assignment changed and narrowed to answer the simple question, "Can the new NIV work for us?"

LutherRocks said...

One of the first things Luther did was to provide a faithful translation for the common folk. It became the model for the KJV that stood for just shy of 400 years. That was monumental. Why has WELS been so intend on using translations from the heterodox for the last thirty years give or take unless WELS desires to be like them?

Lund Family said...

Just started reading the latest issue of FIC (Forward in Christ) and see pro and con letters to the editor. I am disappointed in the stance of some in our WELS that think this translation issue is non-sequitar issue. It is as if some think to be WELS means we can not error or fall from grace no matter what translation of the Bible we use in our publications.

While I appreciate the work of the translation committee and value these men greatly, we must NOT allow Zandervon or Harper Collins Publishing and their artificial timeline dictate what is best for WELS. We must NOT allow the short timeframe for selecting a translation for NPH dictate a quick hastily made move to NNIV.

The money we would spend for the new NNIV in our congregations and publishing rights might easily pay for work towards in depth evaluations of other translations and / or the development of our own study Bible. It is my hope and prayer that the delegates will adopt the SCD memorial as a minimum position this July 2011.

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