Chicago Bible Translation

From: clayton stirling bartholomew (
Date: Wed Feb 18 1998 - 04:53:38 EST


Since NT translation is near and dear to most of us, I thought that this bit
of news on "The Chicago Bible Translation Project" would be of interest to
many. The article is from World magazine and can be found at
I deleted the article's title because I though it might be offensive to some
members of the list.

Are there any list members working on this Project?

*****Article from World Magazine Feb. 14, 1998*********

By David Bayly

(with Susan Olasky) - There's something curious
going on in the world of Bible translation. Just
when it seemed that many evangelical translators
were deciding that it was time to get with it and,
in the words of the NIV Committee on Bible
Translation, "mute the patriarchalism of the Old
Testament," along comes a group-composed
largely of more liberal theologians-determined
to undertake an entirely new translation of the
Bible, one preserving that "patriarchalism."

The project is called "The Chicago Bible
Translation Project." The committee working on
the translation includes scholars from a variety
of Chicago-area theological institutions ranging
in affiliation from United Methodist to Roman

Eerdmans Publishing House, publishers for the
project, issued a press release stating that the
translation is designed for use in settings "where
teachers of the English Bible (using current
English translations) often find themselves
explaining, 'This is not what the text really says.'"
The proposed translation will solve this dilemma
by providing a more literal translation-one that
will not permit "modern premises to invade the
biblical text and obscure its original cultural and
historical context."

In a clear reference to unisex language, and a slap
at recent translations like the New Revised
Standard Version and the New Living Translation
that head in that direction, the announcement
stated, "This translation will not be guided by
current efforts to make the Bible more
egalitarian, more tolerant, and less patriarchal in
its language or in its portrayal of the social
cultures of its context."

The translation, which is to be based on the work
of scholarly translations for commentaries, has a
publisher and a translation committee; the only
remaining obstacle to publication is the need for
additional funds to complete the translation work.
But why would liberal scholars labor on a
translation preserving traditional gender

Robert Jewett, professor of New Testament at
Garrett-Northwestern Theological Seminary and
chairman of the translation's steering committee,
is a self-described "liberal evangelical" who
"hold[s] to the authority of Scripture but not to
the inerrancy." He told WORLD about "a passion at
the center of our project for the original meaning
of Scripture." Mr. Jewett added, "We're not
interested in ascribing to a modern overlay,
whether right-wing or left-wing."

Mr. Jewett's objection to gender-neutral language
is based on his higher-critical approach to the
Bible. Like others who do not see all Scripture as
inspired, he believes that God is less patriarchal
than writers like Paul. He also claims that earlier
authors of Scripture had less understanding of
God's truth in this area than later authors, and
that there is revolutionary change even in the
course of Paul's writing-from an early
patriarchalism to a more egalitarian maturity.

Gender-neutral language, Mr. Jewett said,
"obscures the genuine revolution that is there in
Scripture." The enemy of scriptural truth in Mr.
Jewett's view is not patriarchalism or any other
element of ancient culture, but liberal dishonesty:
A gender-neutral translation that claims to be
accurate is "almost as bad as Stalin's revisions of
world history in which every 10 years he'd change
all the history textbooks."

Speaking of the inclusive-language New Revised
Standard Version (NRSV), Mr. Jewett said, "We're
facing, with the NRSV, liberal dishonesty in
spades. The modern liberated perspective which
imposes itself on the text is about as dishonest
as you can be. All the way through the NRSV,
implying that Paul has all these liberated
concepts and so forth like the current politically
correct person in an Ivy League school: I mean
that's just ridiculous. Here you have the
imposition of liberal prejudice on the biblical
text with the ridiculous assumption that our
modern liberal views were Paul's."

While liberal scholars such as Mr. Jewett view
inclusive language as the imposition of modern
prejudices on the text, one evangelical scholar
affiliated with the Chicago Translation Project
sees no conflict in his involvement with the
Chicago Bible Translation and support for
gender-neutral Bibles.

David Scholer, professor of New Testament at
Fuller Seminary and author of an editorial in the
evangelical feminist publication The Priscilla
Papers that called on Zondervan and the
International Bible Society to release the
gender-neutral NIV in the United States, told
members of the Chicago Translation's advisory
board in February 1997, "I look forward to the
appearance of this Bible. I will even get to use it
in my teaching for a few years before my

He said a version targeted at students will fit
right in with the trend in modern translation to
target specific audiences, including "those with
certain ecclesiastical needs, those with certain
theological concerns and agendas," and "persons
for whom the historical and cultural distance of
the Bible is seen as something to be overcome."

******end of article*****

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