Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

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Sunday, October 11

Personal Note: NIV 2011

I would like to take quick break from the normal function of this blog to share something on a personal nature with you. Integrity demands it, since it comes as a form of disclosure. But I am also concerned to stem any misunderstanding.

Many of you know that I was the New Testament chair of the ESV translation. This project has consumed thousands of hours, most of them enjoyable. I am happy with the ESV. As a formal equivalent translation done in the translation stream of the KJV / ASV / RSV, it has proven itself. And while the committee will be constantly looking at issues and questions submitted by people like you, my work on the ESV was largely done.

But a few weeks ago I received a most amazing email from my friend Mark Strauss (who I have been picking on lately in this blog). What was amazing was that just the night before I was sharing with Robin (my wife) how much I missed translation work. I learned so much on the ESV, things I have never taught in any Greek class at any level. I told her, “Wouldn’t it be amazing to be in the NIV committee? I would love it if I were asked to be on it.”

Mark’s letter was precisely that. Followed up by a formal letter from Doug Moo, the Chairman, I have been asked to be part of the CBT. And a few days ago I said yes.

Here is my concern. I don’t want anyone to think that I am unhappy with the ESV or that I am “jumping ship.” I am not. I thoroughly enjoy reading and studying from the ESV. But if you have been reading this blog very long, you will know that I strongly believe in different translation philosophies, that there is not a “One Size Fits All,” and that the translator’s responsibility is to be consistent with that stated philosophy. So I have no trouble looking at the NIV’s translation philosophy and working within those guidelines.

My biggest concern was the gender language, and the mishandling of the TNIV rollout that has been such a problem, and how that could happen again. You should know that I have been absolutely assured that the gender language is truly on the table for discussion, and since so much of the committee has changed, it is not a forgone conclusion as to how this committee will vote. Without that assurance, I could not have joined.

I am not expecting “brother and sister” to go away (nor should it, given the NIV’s translation philosophy), and thankfully humankind” never occurs in the NIV/TNIV. What an ugly word! But “mankind” continues to be used as a generic term in English, as does “man.” I know there are people who disagree with this point, but the fact that it is used generically over and over again cannot truly be debated; the evidence is everywhere. Have you noticed the new advertisement for the Prius: “Harmony Between Man, Nature And Machine.” I’ll bet Toyota would be glad to sell to women. And personally, I use “they” as an indefinite singular. But who knows where the NIV 2011 will go and how I will vote.

Anyway, this is all to say that I am excited about being able to get back into translation work, but please do not read this as a reaction to the ESV. To do so would be wrong.