Sunday School Board officials meet with NIV-related reps
No statements, however, were issued after the meeting by officials from the Southern Baptist agency or the three organizations -- Zondervan Publishing House, the International Bible Society (IBS) and the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT). Zondervan, IBS and CBT are embroiled in objections by numerous evangelicals to a "gender-neutral" NIV planned for the U.S. market in 2001.
The Sunday School Board uses the current NIV text in many of its Sunday school and discipleship resources and in various Bible texts and commentaries. First published in 1978 and revised in 1983, the current NIV holds a 45 percent share of all Bibles sold in the United States.
Ted Warren, BSSB executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in a statement several days before the meeting, "We are concerned about the proposed gender-neutral version. We are in the process of gathering facts and identifying their implications before we consider options about the continued use of the current NIV."
Warren and Gene Mims, BSSB vice president of the church growth group, were among board officials at the meeting, held at the board's Nashville, Tenn., headquarters. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky., also was in attendance. BSSB President James T. Draper Jr. was out of town.
Bruce Ryskamp, Zondervan's president and chief executive officer, and Ken Barker, CBT secretary, were among the NIV-related representatives at the meeting.
Zondervan, the NIV's U.S. publisher, is based in Grand Rapids, Mich. The IBS, the NIV's copyright holder, is based in Colorado Springs, Colo. The CBT, meanwhile, is a 15member group of scholars with authority over the NIV translation and the revision now under way of the text into gender-neutral language.
An evangelical magazine, World, based in Asheville, N.C., highlighted the NIV gender-neutral issue in articles in its March 29, April 19 and May 3 issues.
A gender-neutral NIV already had been published in Great Britain, titled the "NIV Inclusive Language Version," World reported, promptly stirring theological objections among a number of U.S. evangelicals to changes in various passages where the words "he," "man," "brothers" and "mankind" typically are replaced by "people," "person," "brother and sister" and "humankind."
Also, World reported, Zondervan already is publishing an NIV-related gender-neutral translation, via its U.S. release of a devotional Bible for children last year. Zondervan's introduction to the New International Reader's Version (NIrV) says it wanted the text to say "just what the first writers of the Bible said," utilizing the best and oldest copies of Hebrew and Greek texts for reference. Nowhere, however, in the children's Bible or the promotional literature is reference made to the genderneutral language it uses.