16 Jul GS 2016 art 111
GS 2016 Article 111 – CBT (Committee for Bible Translation)
- 1.1 Report of the Committee for Bible Translation (CBT) (8.2.14)
- 1.2 Letters from the following CanRC: St. Albert (18.104.22.168), Glanbrook-Trinity (22.214.171.124), Hamilton-Cornerstone (126.96.36.199)
- 1.3 Overture from the Brampton-Grace CanRC re: CBT Report (8.4.2)
- 1.4 Appeal from the Burlington-Fellowship CanRC re: GS 2013 Art. 97 (188.8.131.52)
- 2.1 GS 2013 (Art. 97) gave the CBT the following mandate:
- [4.4.1] To provide a thorough study of the effects of gender-inclusive translation philosophy in the NIV2011 and the ESV, comparing also the earlier findings on this subject by the CBT on the NRSV in 1992, to ascertain whether anything is lost from God’s revelation in the use of this philosophy and how it has affected each translation;
- [4.4.2] To provide a thorough study of the ESV with special attention to its readability and to what degree the concerns expressed by previous iterations of the CBT about the RSV remain a concern in relation to the ESV;
- [4.4.3] To solicit, receive and evaluate comments from the churches on the ESV, to submit worthy translation changes to the ESV editorial committee and monitor the response;
- [4.4.4] To send the committee’s critical remarks and suggestions for improvement on the five texts pertaining to women in office (see Observation 2.10.4) to the CBTNIV and monitor the response;
- [4.4.5] To serve the next general synod with a report sent to the churches at least six months prior to the next general synod.
- 2.2 With respect to 4.4.1, “the CBT does not believe the NIV2011’s philosophy of gender-inclusive language is sufficient to make this translation untrustworthy or inaccurate; rather, as pointed out in the CBT Interim Report (2011), the difficulty resides in the application of this philosophy in some instances. [It is] also confident that the ESV approach does justice to the original text and renders it accurately readable to the modern audience” (p. 6, pt. 5).
- 2.3 With respect to 4.4.2, the CBT concluded that while the ESV scored higher than expected on a readability scale, it needs improvement in some areas related to readability.
- 2.4 With respect to 4.4.3, two churches sent feedback, complaining about readability while advocating for the use of the NIV2011.
- 2.5 With respect to 4.4.4, an interim report was sent to the CBTNIV in 2012. No reply was received by the time the report was submitted.
- 2.6 The CBT recommends that GS 2016 reappoint the CBT and mandate the CBT
- 2.6.1 To solicit, receive and evaluate comments from the churches on the ESV;
- 2.6.2 To submit worthy translation changes to the ESV editorial committee;
- 2.6.3 To prepare and distribute a report to the churches in advance of the next Synod.
- 2.7 The term of the Rev. P. Aasman expires this year. The Revs. R. Bredenhof and W. Bredenhof retired from the committee upon taking up their ministry in Australia. The term for both would have expired in 2019. The term of the Rev. D. deBoer ends in 2019 and the term of the Rev. R. Vermeulen in 2022.
- 2.8 St. Albert recommends the following: “Synod Dunnville 2016, if it agrees with the CBT Report that the NIV2011’s philosophy of gender-inclusive language is not sufficient to make the translation untrustworthy or inaccurate, add the NIV2011 as one of the approved translations (along with NIV84, NASB, NKJV, and ESV) and leave the decision regarding the use of the NIV2011 in the freedom of the local churches.”
- 2.9 Glanbrook-Trinity agrees with the recommendations and adds some considerations about methodology, investment in terms of time and money to revert to the NIV, and the benefit of becoming familiar with an essential literal translation, to reinforce the recommendations.
- 2.10 Hamilton-Cornerstone suggests that GS 2016 also recommend the NIV2011 for possible use in the churches.
- 2.11 Brampton-Grace addresses the matter of the five texts in the NIV2011 pertaining to the offices in the church that were flagged to be of concern. They indicate that only two of the texts, Rom. 16:1 and 2 Timothy 2:2, are problematic. Brampton-Grace does not believe that the NIV2011 should be rejected on the basis of two problematic texts. Therefore, they request Synod to make the following decision:
- 1. That Synod decide that the NIV2011 be listed with the other faithful translations that may be used by the churches; or
- 2. If Synod is not ready to make such a judgment yet, that they mandate the CBT committee to investigate further the points made above and to serve the churches at the next synod with advice on the status of the NIV2011.
- 2.12 Burlington-Fellowship appeals GS 2013 Art. 97. It sees evidence of a “hierarchical tendency of synodicalism” in the way the language pertaining to Bible translations has shifted from recommended translations (GS 1995) to synod approved translations. It notes that while GS 1995 recommended the NIV for use within the churches, it did not give a list of other possible translations when it decided, “to leave it in the freedom of the churches if they feel compelled to use another translation.” It appeals to GS 2016 to decide:
- A. To recommend the ESV for use within the churches; however
- B. To recognize that congregations, if they feel compelled to use another translation, are free to do so.
- 3.1 The Report of the CBT indicates it has fulfilled its mandate.
- 3.2 Synod should acknowledge with thankfulness the work done by the committee.
- 3.3 The CBT has shown that the gender-inclusive translation philosophy in the NIV2011 does not result in losing anything from God’s revelation. This leaves the questions regarding texts pertaining to office. Brampton-Grace clearly shows that the primary texts pertaining to office are proper translations. Of the five problem texts brought forward, three of the texts (Phil. 1:14; 1 Tim. 2:12, and James 3:1) are acceptable translations. Only two (Romans 16:1,2 and 2 Tim. 2:2) remain problematic. Brampton-Grace has a valid point when it states that the NIV2011 should not be rejected on the basis of two problematic texts. Since the concern regarding the NIV2011 comes down to two problematic texts, there is no need to mandate the CBT to further study.
- 3.4 The appeal of Burlington-Fellowship gives reason to look back at the history of Bible translation committees in the CanRC. From the beginning years of the CanRC, Bible translation has been treated as a matter of the churches in common. Further, it has been the understanding that only translations recommended by a synod should be used. GS 1954 recommended only the KJV be used in the churches (GS 1968, p. 75). Because GS 1954 had made this decision, it was deemed necessary for GS 1968 to speak to the matter of considering the RSV (GS 1968 Art. 45). GS 1968 appointed a committee to study the RSV, but indicated that churches should not use it until the study was completed. GS 1977 (Art. 107) left it in the freedom of the churches to use only the RSV and KJV. It added the NIV and NASB to the list of translations to be studied. GS 1980 added the NASB to the list of recommended translations (Art. 111 C.3). This synod finally recommended the RSV for use “in the worship services and for catechism instruction in order to come to uniformity of practice.” GS 1989 (Art. 88 D.2.a) instructed the CBT to study the NRSV. GS 1992 (Art. 35 IV) instructed the CBT to study the NASB, NIV and NKJV to determine which one translation can be positively recommended for use in the churches. This shows that since the beginning of the CanRC the understanding has been that only translations recommended by general synods should be used. The decision of GS 1995, referenced by Burlington-Fellowship, “to leave it in the freedom of the churches if they feel compelled to use another translation,” should not be read in isolation of the decisions of previous synods. Burlington-Fellowship therefore overstates the case when it speaks of a “hierarchical tendency of synodicalism” in the language pertaining to Bible translations since GS 1995.
- 3.5 While the matter of Bible translations is not prescribed in the Church Order, the churches have considered it beneficial to appoint a committee for evaluating Bible translations. The existence of such a committee has never been challenged. The task of evaluating Bible translations benefits from brothers with expertise in the matter. The recommendations of the CBT and the decisions of synods ultimately are advisory, as is evident in the way a synod does not prescribe but recommends translations for use in the churches. This approach has led to the situation where currently four translations are used in the federation, namely, the ESV, NIV1984, NASB and NKJV. Since the matter of Bible translation is not addressed in the Church Order nor specified in the confessions, a general synod may not forbid a church from using a particular translation.
- 3.6 Since the ESV is the version recommended for use in the churches and used in the Book of Praise, at this point the mandate of the CBT can be limited to evaluating comments on the ESV and submitting worthy translation changes to the ESV editorial committee.
That Synod decide:
- 4.1 To thank the Committee for Bible Translation (CBT) for its work and appoint a committee with the following mandate:
- 4.1.1 To solicit, receive and evaluate comments from the churches on the ESV;
- 4.1.2 To submit worthy translation changes to the ESV editorial committee;
- 4.1.3 To prepare and distribute a report to the churches in advance of the next Synod.
- 4.2 To recommend the ESV for use within the churches;
- 4.3 To acknowledge that while it may not be possible to recommend the NIV2011, a general synod may not forbid churches to use it if they so desire;
- 4.4 To consider the above as answering the appeal of Burlington-Fellowship.