Theologians OK With Latest NIV Bible's Handling of Homosexual Sins

Some conservative theologians said they approve of the Committee on Bible Translation’s handling of homosexual sins in the 2011 New International Version translation.

The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey, chief operating & development officer of the American Anglican Council –the network of conservative U.S. Anglicans that broke away from the Episcopal Church – said the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) made the right decision regarding the phrase change in I Corinthians 6:9.

The 1984 NIV version used the phrase “homosexual offenders” in 1 Corinthians 6:9, while the 2011 edition changed the phrase to "men who have sex with men."

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“It reflects an accurate translation of the terms malakoi and arsenokoitai, which together apply to every conceivable type of same-sex intercourse, and specifically to men having sex with men in homosexual relationships,” said Ashey.

Ashey also believed that since the 1984 NIV translation had been released, some had tried to interpret verses like 1 Corinthians 6:9 as only condemning nonconsensual homosexual behavior.

“The 1984 translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9 ‘homosexual offenders’ has allowed some to claim that there is a loophole for mutually consenting homosexual sex,” said Ashey.

“The 2011 translation removes any such alleged ambiguity.”

Dr. Darrell Bock, professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, said that he liked the 2011 NIV.

“It is a very solid translation of the Bible,” said Bock, who added that the translation team “did good linguistic work.”

Bock’s only issue with the edition was that it lacked sufficient “marginal notes,” which tell the reader what other possible words could have been used in the translation.

Regarding the Corinthians verse, Bock explained that the word change by the translators did not change the meaning of the passage, “because the passages are still affirming that it is a sin.”

“All they did was to define the term” used in the original Greek, said Bock, replacing the 1984 translation with “basically the definition of the word.”

According to Bock, “the only nuanced difference” made would be that the 2011 NIV puts a focus more on behavior than personhood, which Bock believed was “the point of the passage.”

Last year, the Committee on Bible Translation released the New International Version 2011, an updated version of the popular 1984 NIV.

Dr. Douglas J. Moo, chair of the CBT, told CP in an earlier interview that the word changes to verses pertaining to homosexuality were made in order to clarify their meaning.

“The 1984 NIV rendering … did not make clear whether homosexual activity per se was being condemned or whether only certain kinds of ‘offensive’ homosexual activity was being condemned,” said Moo.

“The updated NIV makes clear that the Greek words here indicate any kind of homosexual activity.”

Initially, the new version received criticism over allegations by groups like the Southern Baptist Convention over being too “gender neutral,” a claim CBT denies.

“Some changes were preserved, some were rescinded in favor of the 1984 rendering, and many were re-worded in a third, still different way,” said CBT on the “frequently asked questions” page on their website.

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