The creative work of pastor and artist Wes Molebash has been described as “insightful without being preachy, pointed without being cynical, and hilarious without being viral cat videos”, and we agree! We asked Wes what prompted him to draw this comic about bible translation:
(click on the image to enlarge)
“I’m tired of all of the Bible translation wars raging all over the internet. Most of the stuff we quibble about isn’t that important, and I think the gender-neutrality in the 2011 NIV is a great example of this. Replacing terms like ‘mankind’ with ‘people’ does nothing to water down or negate Scripture, and I think there’s more important stuff we could be discussing as a body of believers. While I find these types of debates monotonous, they do inspire great material for my comic strip.”
[FROM THE EDITORS] If you’re not familiar with the “Bible Translation Wars”, Christianity Today magazine sums them up well in this article. One such “war” is over the 2011 revision of the New International Version referred to in this comic strip. Several thousand corrections were made; many of them involved replacing male pronouns with gender-accurate terms if the word used in the original manuscripts included both men and women (“humankind” for “mankind”, “brothers and sisters” for brothers, “ancestors for forefathers”, etc.). In Romans 16 Phoebe is now described as a deacon rather than as a servant, and the apostle Junia’s name has been corrected – previously she was identified as Junias, a male form of the name that has been proven to be non-existent in that time period. (Yes, there was a female apostle – for more about her, see Who Was Junia.)
6 Facts about the 2011 NIV Translation
- Only about 5% of the 1984 text was changed
- Some changes were necessary because English language usage has changed (ex. “alien” was replaced with “foreigner”)
- Some changes reflect improved scholarship related to biblical languages (ex. we know now that the two men crucified with Jesus were called “rebels” not “robbers”)
- Some changes reflect the need for clarity (ex. “brothers and sisters” when the original word indicated mixed groups)
- Inclusive language for people is used when the term in the original manuscripts indicated a mixed gender group was being addressed (the best term for this is gender-accurate language rather than gender-neutral or gender-inclusive)
- The updated NIV does not contain inclusive language for God.
Sounds reasonable enough. What doesn’t sound reasonable is attacking a publisher for trying to make a translation more accurate. What’s that all about?
Your Turn: The next time you encounter Condescending Bible Guy or Gal, what could you say to help them to reconsider the value of a gender-accurate translation?
Updated: Check out Wes’s new website on fatherhood.