Dan Wallace has now completed his four part review of NIV 2011.
Last week I posted here about part 1 of the series. I now regret describing it as “excellent”, as I later discovered some serious issues with Wallace’s history of Bible translation, most noticeably the way in which he silently ignored all dynamic equivalence translation.
Then I posted at Better Bibles Blog about part 2. Since Wallace says that literal translations “will inevitably be uneven and inaccurate” and ignores dynamic equivalence translations, it is not surprising that he expresses a quite a strong preference for the mediating style of translation of NIV.
Nevertheless, given Wallace’s reputation as a strong complementarian, I expected part 3 of the review to start with a big “but” concerning gender language. I would not have been surprised to see something like Denny Burk’s condemnation. But the matter of gender was ignored, apart from the following:
At bottom, I think the gender issue has been overblown by people who have reacted to what they thought the TNIV would say, long before it was published, and the same attitude has carried over to the NIV 2011—even though for both translations it is difficult to find passages where they are at fault.
The serious issues I do have with part 3 relate to the way in which Wallace appears to commend translation into odd English. As I wrote in a comment at BBB, he practically identifies strange syntax, memorability and elegance:
the language [of NIV 2011] is so much closer to the way people speak today than just about any other bona fide translation that it is not memorable. … The KJV reigned supreme on memorability (or elegance) …
Well, as foreign hotel signs often demonstrate, any fool with a dictionary can write translated sentences which are so odd that they are memorable, but does that imply that they are elegant?
Then part 4 Wallace concludes that NIV 2011, while not being perfect, is one of the “gems” among translations:
for readability, the NIV 2011 has no peers. … As with the handful of other exceptional translations, the NIV 2011 definitely should be one that the well-equipped English-speaking Christian has on his or her shelf, and one that they consult often for spiritual nourishment.
I would not describe what Wallace wrote as a gem of a review. But I am encouraged by his conclusions. Here is a major complementarian leader not just being lukewarm about NIV 2011 but giving it a strong endorsement. I hope this will help many people to stop fighting the battles of the 1990s, as Denny Burk is still doing, and to unite around this generally excellent new edition of NIV.