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Anglicans debate Bible versions

Te Hīnota Whānui has called on the Common Life Liturgical Commission to share how it assesses new translations of scripture, as four new Bible translations were approved for use in public worship across Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

Taonga News  |  10 Jun 2024  |

General Synod 2024 has called on the Common Life Liturgical Commission to share how it assesses new Scripture translations, as Synod voted to add four more Bible versions to the list of Bibles approved for reading in public worship in Anglican churches across Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

The four new Bible translations have now passed the first stage of the canonical process to join the almost 20 other versions approved for use in Anglican worship. The four new Bibles are the:
- New International Reader's Version (1996)
- Inclusive Bible (2009)
- New International Version (2011) and the
- New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition (2022)

These Bibles will undergo the usual round of double checking by local Hui Amorangi and Synods before returning to General Synod Te Hīnota Whānui to join the existing list of authorised Bibles which run from the 17thC King James Version and 19thC Paipera Tapu right up to the latest 2022 Diglot (Te Reo Māori/English) Paipera Tapu.

While the motion passed with a clear majority in favour of the new Bibles, the debate leading to the vote was lively and full of contrasting perspectives, as Synod members wrestled with the value of adding more Bible translations to the Church’s Canon V on scripture for use in public worship.

Archdeacon Julie Rokotakala (Diocese of Wellington) asked a question on the inaccessibility of the Inclusive Bible, noting that made it hard to assess before the Synod vote, however the Rev Brian Dawson (Te Hui Amorangi o Te Upoko o Te Ika) reported he had been convinced of the volume’s worth after being invited to review it more than a decade ago.

Archdeacon of American Samoa, the Ven Jemima Teo-Nafatali voiced that the growing number of translations could cause confusion and suggested that the Church consider authorising fewer translations of Scripture than the growing number in its canons today.

Finally, the Synod agreed with Rev Lucy Flatt (Diocese of Christchurch) who called for the Common Life Liturgical Commission to share its Bible translation assessment matrix with Te Hīnota Whānui prior to any future requests to authorize new translations of scripture.