Dear Southern Baptists,
Your representatives at the Southern Baptist Convention in 2011 made some rather hasty resolutions regarding the 2011 revision of the NIV. However I fear that these leaders are somewhat confused about language and semantics and have muddled the situation for the larger Southern Baptist movement.
The SBC messengers claim that the updated version “alters the meaning of hundreds of verses, most significantly by erasing gender-specific details which appear in the original language.” However, it was the policy of the NIV translators to make changes only where there were no gender-specific details – that is when the source text was using generic third-person pronouns. Continue reading
The NIV is getting an update, its first since 1984. This will actually be the third attempted update since then, with the first dying in its early stages in 1997, and the second, the TNIV, dying in a maelstrom of bad press and poor marketing. What ultimately killed both of these efforts was the gender-inclusive language debate, especially in the case of the TNIV.
I am very interested to see how this new translation will come out with respect to gender-inclusivity. The NIV charter requires the translators to update the text as a reflection of developments in English. Once again, I have no empirical data on this, but gender-inclusivity idiom (e.g. the use of “they” as a singular pronoun of generic gender) appears to be dominant in much of the United States, if not the whole English-speaking world. The NIV translators seem to share this opinion, given that they have worked in accord with that assumption twice previously. So the question is: will they attempt again to market a gender-inclusive NIV, or will they shrink away from the controversial topic?