NIV Translation Team Adds Two More Scholars

Bill Mounce, who was part of the translation team for the English Standard Version of the Bible, was elected this week to join the NIV team.

Mounce, who served as the New Testament chair of the ESV translation, stressed in a blog post this week that he is not unhappy with the ESV and "jumping ship."

But he said he strongly believes in different translation philosophies and doesn't believe that one size fits all.

"The translator's responsibility is to be consistent with that stated philosophy," he wrote. "So I have no trouble looking at the NIV's translation philosophy and working within those guidelines."

Mounce will be working on the revision of the New International Version Bible, which has not been updated in 25 years. NIV publisher Zondervan and global ministry Biblica announced last month that they would discontinue sales of the controversial TNIV (Today's New International Version) and focus efforts on publishing an updated NIV by 2011.

Mounce shares a bit of rival history with one of the TNIV translators who is also on the team (Committee for Bible Translation) working on the NIV revision.

Ever since the ESV and TNIV were published nearly a decade ago, scholars on both teams have directed criticisms toward each other's translations.

Mounce is currently preparing to address the Evangelical Theological Society next month with a presentation on "Can the ESV and TNIV Coexist in the Same Universe?" which was scheduled before the announcement about axing the TNIV.

Last year, TNIV translator Mark L. Strauss presented a paper at the Evangelical Theological Society meeting critiquing the ESV and making arguments on "why the English Standard Version should not become the Standard English Version."

Contending that the ESV does not use "normal English," Strauss stated, "[T]he ESV seems to me to be overly literal – full of archaisms, awkward language, obscure idioms, irregular word order, and a great deal of 'Biblish.' Biblish is produced when the translator tries to reproduce the form of the Greek or Hebrew without due consideration for how people actually write or speak."

Strauss also took aim at the gender language, which was also a point of controversy with the TNIV Bible. He criticized the ESV's inconsistency in the removal and retaining of words such as "man" or "men."

While the ESV uses gender inclusive terms such as "one" and "person" in some passages, in other parts of the Bible it retains "man" Strauss pointed out.

The TNIV also suffered a heap of criticisms but for its even more aggressive push for gender inclusive language. Evangelical scholars denounced the removal of many references such as "son," "he," "him," "father," and "brother."

Gender language will be on the table for discussion for the NIV update. Mounce said it is his biggest concern.

In addition to Mounce, Jeannine Brown, professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., was elected to membership in the Committee for Bible Translation and will also join the NIV translation work.

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