His complaint? Zondervan sells New International Version (NIV) Bibles that translate the 1 Corinthians 6:9 word arsenokoitai with the word “homosexual.” The NIV was published in 1978 and many churches have adopted it widely. As a result, Fowler expects an apology and the $60 million for the resultant suffering at the hands of his own church and family.
From the article:
He claims the company is misinterpreting the Bible by specifically using the word homosexuals. Fowler admits that every Bible printed is a translation, interpreted in some way, but he says specifically using that word is not a translation but a change.
“These are opinions based on the publishers,” he said. “And they are being embedded in the religious structure as a way of life.”
Fowler says he came across the discrepancy while researching a book. He says Zondervan Bibles published in the 1980s use the word homosexuals in the Corinthian passage in question, but earlier and later ones don’t.
Part of the problem is discerning the responsible party. Zondervan only publishes and sells Bibles, it does not translate them. The list of tranlsations that they publish and sell is an alphabet soup: AMP, KJV, NASB, NIV, NIrV, NRSV, TNIV. The copyright holder for the NIV translation is the International Bible Society and the translation work actually done by the Committee on Bible Translation.
The job of Zondervan is in publication: taking a particular translation, adding commentary notes, appending an index, maps, pictures, etc. These packaged study Bibles are additionally copyright by Zondervan. They do not actually create the translation but they do make it widely available. My suspicion is that the responsibility lies with the translators and not the packager-publisher.
Unfortunately, suing a 1970s-era translation committee can’t really get an apology or $60 million dollars. Going after Zondervan (owned by HaperCollins and, in turn, owned by Fox News Corp.) can get these things.
Has Bradley Fowler suffered “20 years of emotional duress and mental instability?” Without doubt. Can he link it to his church’s and his family’s use of the NIV translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9? It seems so. What’s the best way forward? Perhaps not to go it alone against Zondervan-Harper-Fox, but to take a class-action suit against the translation’s copyright holder (IBS) or the translation committee (CBT). It won’t get the reparation money, but it has a better chance of success and of making a difference.
Greek geek paragraph: When I’m in my office, I’ll check my BDAG lexicon for its sense of arsenokoitai. Other translations, such at the King James Version, the American Standard Bible and the New American Bible do not translate it this way. The NRSV renders it as “sodomites.” The recently-translated TNIV and ESV render it as “practicing homosexuals.”
News roundup: The Christian Post has picked up the story also. So has WSMV Nashville, which adds that Thomas Nelson Publishing has been named in the suit for $10 million. Thomas Nelson is based in Tennessee.