I am a fiscal conservative who believes in a free market economy. I think I may have just alienated half of the two readers that follow my blog. I mention this because I don’t hold it against anyone for making an honest buck. I am the guy who will stop at three lemonade stands on the way home to encourage the young entrepreneur. A person who has an idea and can turn it into a product that is desired and bought by the hundreds has my admiration. But, my admiration has its limits. Not all attempts at producing a product that speaks to the majority is a product worth having.
In 1960 a team was gathered to translate from the original language an English Bible Translation that would not only be accurate but also readable for the contemporary reader. This isn’t an easy task. Just recently two of my sons were engaged in a project where they had to translate Arabic into English. It isn’t always easy to grasp the nuances of one language and translate it into another. Often times it takes more words to express the same idea. So as the team in 1960 began this arduous task they had a commitment to bring to us the best translation possible. The result was a translation that took the phrases of the Greek and Hebrew texts and produced a very accurate translation.
In 2002 Zondervan decided to make changes in the long standing NIV. With what seemed to be pressure from groups who felt the Bible presented God as too masculine the publishing company sought to remove “gender bias” language. In doing this they moved from being accurate to the text to being “sensitive” to the reader. Zondervan abandoned the project after the Christian community expressed their strong disapproval. But the voices and pressure to change the meaning of the text in regard to gender remained.
In order to appease their liberal customers Zondervan has decided to release a compromised addition. Under the guise of wanting to be ‘contemporary’ they have in a sense neutered God in many passages. The following are quotes from Zondervan’s website:
“To the extent that gender inclusive language is an established part of contemporary English and that its use enhances comprehension for readers, it clearly was an important factor in decisions made by the translators.
“The CBT is deeply conscious of the need that exists for a Bible that offers the whole church – from experienced Bible-handlers to interested newcomers and from older readers to younger ones – access to God’s unchanging Word in language that all can understand.”
I do believe that translators need to take into account contemporary use of language. But when contemporary language doesn’t properly reflect the original you stick with the original and then help teach the nuances. When you compromise the original in one area others will be sure to follow.
So why has Zondervan made this shift? One, it could be because there is a philosophical shift towards liberalism. Two, it could be about profits. The word of God is not a product that is to be changed to meet the demands of a large population. It is the Word of God! It stands on its own and we need to present it as such to all who will listen. I’m just saying….