J I Packer and the Statement of Concern
- Statement of Concern about the TNIV Bible
Recently, the International Bible Society (IBS) and Zondervan Publishing announced their joint decision to publish a new translation of the Bible, known as Today's New International Version (TNIV). The TNIV makes significant changes in the gender language that is in the NIV. The TNIV raises more concern in this regard than previous Bible versions because, riding on the reputation of the NIV, the TNIV may vie for a place as the church's commonly accepted Bible. We believe that any commonly accepted Bible of the church should be more faithful to the language of the original.
We acknowledge that Bible scholars sometimes disagree about translation methods and about which English words best translate the original languages. We also agree that it is appropriate to use gender-neutral expressions where the original language does not include any male or female meaning. However, we believe the TNIV has gone beyond acceptable translation standards in several important respects.
Because of these and other misgivings, we cannot endorse the TNIV as sufficiently trustworthy to commend to the church. We do not believe it is a translation suitable for use as a normal preaching and teaching text of the church or for a common memorizing, study, and reading Bible of the Christian community.
At some points the TNIV is not what I would want a Bible to be. I didn’t draft the document. I was ready, you are faced with choices, you are having to consider the pros and the cons. I was ready to sign the document. I agreed with the substance if not with the precise manner of expression.
You may know, you may not know, that I am not an American. I have behind me no culture of the fundamentalist kind which says that the stronger you feel, the stronger your language. I am a Brit and always try to express myself in the way which is as cool as can be consistent with the emphasis I am trying to make. That is the cultural difference. The TNIV comment was drafted by one or more Americans. I don’t know who. It was put to me already drafted.
Suzanne: I believe that it was Vern Poythress and Wayne Grudem. The statement is found in their book.
(Dr. Packer was not able to confirm who had drafted the statement. I cannot be sure, either, of who actually drafted it. )
Suzanne: These are the people who said that they had no idea that adelphoi could mean 'brothers and sisters' before they drafted the Colorado Springs document, and I have to say that I questioned their scholarship, their ability to use lexicons.
Dr. Packer: You are really telling me that Wayne Grudem and Vern Poythress agreed on saying that.
Suzanne: They wrote in their book. (p. 451) I was very surprised.
Dr. Packer: Well, I am very surprised also, but then I had a classical Greek education as you did.
I later came back to this and asked him if he had, in fact, read The TNIV and the Gender Neutral Controversy by Poythress and Grudem, which they wrote on this topic. He said that he had not read the book, it was a matter of priority, there is only so much time.
However, there is an endorsement on the back cover, stating, "This is the best book on its theme." J I Packer.