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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Meet a translator ... Ron Youngblood (NIV, TNIV)

I have come to appreciate Ron Youngblood very much. Even though we have not met in person, we have had a number of email exchanges and Ron's heart for God and his Word and his sharp mind with a contagious sense of humor come through clearly even in written exchanges. Ron has retired from teaching seminary, but he has not retired from thinking and continuing to try to improve the Bible versions he works with. Well, let's let Ron speak for himself.

Hi Ron


When did the Bible first start becoming important to you personally?

As an 8-year-old boy, when I accepted Jesus as my Savior. My first memory of those early days is when I began reading the Gospel of John at the suggestion of my pastor. Believe it or not, when I arrived at John 3:3 -- "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" -- I asked my pastor if I was really a Christian. Could women and boys and girls be saved as well as men? He laughed and said, "Yes, because 'a man' in that verse means 'anybody' " (which was true in older English usage). Ironically, I was interested in gender precision in translation even in my boyhood days, although I was not even aware of it! (In this case, of course, a Greek word for "man" doesn't even appear in the original text of John 3:3.)

What has been your role in the production of the NIV and TNIV?

I began working on the early stages of the NIV in 1969-1970, starting out on a 3-man team that produced rough-draft translations of Ruth, Ecclesiastes, and Malachi. From there I was made chair of several intermediate editorial committees, eventually being coopted onto the executive Committee on Bible Translation as a temporary member before becoming a full member in 1979. Over the years I have worked as a translator/editor on most of the OT books and many of the NT books. As a CBT member I worked on TNIV from the beginning (1989).

What are one or two revisions during the translation process that you

When at my suggestion we changed John 3:3 in the 1978 NIV to read "No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" (1983 revision, published in 1984), and then, also at my suggestion, when we changed John 3:3 for the TNIV NT to read "No one can see the kingdom of God without being born again."

How would you like people to pray for the ministry of the NIV and TNIV?

If you had asked any CBT member in 1978 whether they thought the NIV would become the most popular English-language Bible in the world, all of us would have immediately responded in the negative. We praise the Lord that upwards of two million copies are now in circulation and that the NIV has proven to be a blessing to so many. I would simply ask that people pray for the continued widespread distribution of the Bible in whatever translation -- NIV, TNIV, NLT, NASB, ESV, NKJV, HCSB, etc. -- so that people everywhere might come to meet and love the same Lord Jesus whom I placed my faith in 65 years ago.

Thanks, Ron.

You're welcome.

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At Tue Feb 07, 09:40:00 PM, Blogger EricofAZ said...

Dr. Youngblood, what a delight to see this blog. I ran across it by doing a google search on Cuneiform.

I have very much enjoyed studying under you. You wrote a great letter that helped me get into law school in the mid 90's.

I am a Trial Lawyer and do try to bring Light to a very dark place.

Actually, I ran across this site while I was answering a question about Leviticus 14 and "mildew" for one of the top trial lawyers in Tucson. Defense counsel has taken the position that "mildew" is a new concept brewed up by plaintiff lawyers. The person I was helping had the remembrance of a JW pamphlet that he received and the creative idea of using it. He asked about Leviticus 14 and if it was a reference to mildew and mold that might pre-date modern trial lawyers.

Of course, I'm not so sure that "nega" means mildew, I am sure that the dynamic equivalent translation of the NIV is pretty accurate in this minor point.

Best wishes. I'll be in San Diego last week of March 05 and hope to see you.

Oh, I see Mark Strauss is on this site too. Hi Mark. You may not remember me, I remember you. Best wishes.

Eric Post, M.Div, J.D.


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