GS 2004 art 78

GS 2004 Article 78 – Committee on Bible Translation

Committee 3 again presented its proposal on the report of the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT). After a round of discussion, the following was adopted:

1.    Material

  • 1.1.   Report of the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT)
  • 1.2.   Letter from the church at Fergus
  • 1.3.   Letter from the church at Carman (West)
  • 1.4.   Letter from the church at Winnipeg (Grace)
  • 1.5.   Letter from the church at Yarrow
  • 1.6.   Letter from the church at Orangeville

2.    Admissibility

The report and the letters are admissible.

3.    Observations

  • 3.1.   The Report of the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT), which is included as an appendix in the Acts, serves as Observations.
  • 3.2.   CBT recommends that Synod decide to:
    • 3.2.1. Reappoint a CBT with the same mandate as given by Synod 2001;
    • 3.2.2. Appoint a replacement for Rev. J. Louwerse whose term is over.
  • 3.3.   The church at Fergus requests Synod to mandate the CBT to investigate the suitability of the English Standard Version (ESV) for use in the worship service, in light of the fact that a few churches in the federation cannot find themselves to implement either the NIV, or the NKJV, or the NASB for use in their worship services.
  • 3.4.   The church at Carman (West) is aware of the fact that monitoring developments in the field of Bible translation can become quite a burden for a committee if this mandate is interpreted broadly. Nevertheless, in Carman’s opinion, the mandate to “monitor developments” involves more than focusing almost exclusively on the NIV. Since the committee seems to be of the opinion that doing this would extend beyond its mandate, perhaps the wording of the mandate needs to be reconsidered.
  • 3.5.   The church at Winnipeg (Grace) writes that the CBT should have served the churches with general information about the ESV, which should have been followed by a recommendation to investigate the ESV, either yes or no. Winnipeg (Grace) points out that the Preface of the ESV mentions that this translation wants to continue the legacy of Bible translation since the Reformation, and that this Bible version wants “to be as literal as possible while maintaining clarity of expression and literary excellence.” Winnipeg (Grace) requests Synod to mandate the CBT to investigate the ESV.
  • 3.6.   The church at Yarrow considers:
    • 3.6.1. That Synod Abbotsford 1995 stated that the churches need “the most faithful and understandable translation available”; 
    • 3.6.2. That Synod Neerlandia 2001 stated that “it would be beneficial for the churches to be aware of general developments in the field of Bible translation”;
    • 3.6.3. That the ESV merits careful consideration by our churches. The church at Yarrow requests to mandate the CBT specifically to do a full investigation of the ESV as well as a comparison with the NIV, and provide Synod 2007 with a comprehensive report of the ESV translation.
  • 3.7. The church at Orangeville finds fault with the mandate given to the CBT. It feels that it is incorrect that a committee is mandated to scrutinize comments received from churches and/or members of the churches, and to pass judgment on the validity of these concerns, thereby bypassing General Synod. Orangeville feels that it makes a committee a permanent body. Orangeville asks Synod that in this regard the mandate for the CBT be reconsidered.

4. Considerations

  • 4.1.   From this report it is clear that the CBT has fulfilled its mandate.
  • 4.2.   The mandate of General Synod Neerlandia 2001 “to monitor developments in the field of Bible translation” includes informing the churches about new Bible translations and whether they are worthy of investigation. Synod realizes that in view of our limited resources, the CBT cannot investigate every possible translation. With regard to the field of Bible translation the CBT could solicit input from churches with which we have contact.
  • 4.3.   Synod agrees with the churches at Winnipeg (Grace), Fergus and Yarrow, which suggest that the ESV merits consideration by our churches. The CBT could benefit from input by the churches in this regard. As a result, it may be necessary to increase the number of deputies CBT.
  • 4.4.   The mandate to the CBT to receive, scrutinize and pass on valid concerns is in line with current practices of synodical deputies. These deputies are mandated to speak, write or act on behalf of the churches in accordance with their mandate but will submit a report of their words, letters and actions to the churches to be judged by the next general synod. There is no need to reconsider the mandate of the CBT as Orangeville requests.

5.    Recommendations

Synod decide:

  • 5.1.   To thank the Committee on Bible Translation for the work done.
  • 5.2.   To mandate the Committee on Bible Translation:
    • 5.2.1. To do a preliminary investigation of the ESV, and provide Synod 2007 with a report on the ESV translation, using also the input solicited from the churches;
    • 5.2.2. To receive comments from churches and/or members about passages in the NIV in need of improvements;
    • 5.2.3. To scrutinize these comments, and pass on valid concerns to the NIV Translation Center;
    • 5.2.4. To monitor developments in case significant changes appear in the text of the NIV;
    • 5.2.5. To report and make recommendations regarding new Bible translations, whether they are worthy of investigation;
    • 5.2.6. To serve the next General Synod with a report to be sent to the churches at least six months prior to the beginning of Synod.