Republished with permission from Baptist Bulletin Sept/Oct 2011. All rights reserved.
New translations often face considerable opposition if they attempt to replace long-cherished traditional versions. The KJV was bitterly opposed in 1611 by many who clung to the Geneva Bible (witness the Mayflower pilgrims!) or the Bishop’s Bible. Revisions of existing translations sometimes experience the same fate. “Keep your hands off my Bible!” is a common perspective—and perhaps for good reason in some cases. At best, this attitude could reflect long years of memorization and meditation on words that have become so ingrained in readers’ minds and hearts that they seem second nature, in contrast to which different words and phrasing seem out of sorts. However, this attitude may also simply reflect an obstinate resistance to change. Change in itself is not necessarily good. But when change can result in greater accuracy and more ready comprehension of the Word of God, at that point, inflexibility serves not to protect fidelity to Scripture, but to hinder effective discipleship and ministry.
Nearly a decade ago, I “chanced” upon a hardback facsimile reprint of the 1536 edition of William Tyndale’s New Testament translation (Columbus, Ohio: Lazarus Ministry Press, 1999. The original is #21 in the chronological listing of printed editions of the Bible in English in A. S. Herbert’s Historical Catalogue of Printed Editions of the English Bible 1525-1961, p. 13). The price was acceptable (just under $32), so I purchased the volume and have consulted it from time to time. I very much prefer facsimile reprints over mere reproductions (in print or on the net) of the text of a Bible translation, because there are regularly features of the original edition that are omitted in the reprint, along with the very real possibility of inadvertent alterations in the text.
At the beginning of this year, I decided to read this facsimile NT through, and just this morning (as I write), completed the task (which had been interrupted by two trips to Eastern Europe). This makes at least the 8th different English translation of the NT that I have read entirely. These—in roughly I read them—include KJV, ASV, NASB, NIV, Stern’s Jewish NT, ERV, HCSB and now Tyndale (of course, I have read several of these repeatedly and have read portions of the NT in many other English versions).
Christianity Today editorial: “Our movement is wide enough to include a variety of methods”: Battle for the Bible Translation
Article on resolution: Southern Baptists Reject Updated NIV Bible
Text of Resolution: On The Gender-Neutral 2011 New International Version
“The NIV resolution overwhelmingly approved by messengers ‘expressed profound disappointment’ with publication of the new translation and ‘respectfully request[ed ] that LifeWay’ not sell the version in its stores.”