Skip to comments.Gender neutral Bible stirs debate
Posted on 05/31/2002 1:20:19 PM PDT by Sub-Driver
Biblical Battle Translation Removing 'Him' Draws Ire From Some
By Oliver Libaw
May 31 Blessed are those who hear the word of God, the Bible says. But which words?
An effort to provide a newer, more readable version of the enormously popular New International Version Bible drew more criticism this week, as a conservative religious group presented a list of 100 Christian leaders opposed to the new translation. The controversy centers around the translation of gender terms in the new Today's New International Version translation. Those who worked on the project insist they are merely putting the text in contemporary speech, while critics say they are changing the meaning of the Biblical passages.
"The problem with the TNIV is that it mistranslates and changes the meanings of hundreds of passages for the simple goal of removing a lot of the male-oriented language that's in the original Greek text," says Randy Stinson, president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, the group that is spearheading objections to the TNIV.
Brothers or Siblings? Sons or Children?
The TNIV renders some words previously translated as "he," "brother," and so on, in gender-neutral terms. The changes only affect passages where it is clear the speaker is referring to both men and women, the project's translators insist.
Where the previous version rendered Hebrews 2:6 as, "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" the TNIV reads," What are mere mortals that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?"
Similarly, some passages referring to the "sons of God," are rendered "children of God."
The TNIV's translators and publishers say the changes make the passages more readable, and do not affect the meaning.
"The TNIV reflects what I would call a judicious, balanced, responsible use of gender-accurate language where human beings are involved and it's clear both males and females are in view," says Dr. Kenneth Barker, a Biblical translator who worked on the project.
"We're really honoring the Hebrew and Greek lexicon better than our critics."
All references to God and to Jesus remain masculine, he points out. Barker also worked on the TNIV's predecessor, known as the New International Version. Published in 1978, the NIV is among the most popular versions of the Bible in America.
War of Words
Barker also notes that the controversial changes affect only 2 percent of the text of the New Testament. The majority of their alterations such as changing "with child" to "pregnant" have gone without criticism.
Also, some passages that had previously referred to "the Jews," appear as "the Jewish leaders" in new text. Those sections clearly refer to particular Jewish leaders or groups, not the Jewish people as a whole, Barker said.
The TNIV's opponents say the translation is inaccurate and misrepresents the meaning of the original text.
"The cumulative effect absolutely matters; it does change the meaning in hundreds of passages," Stinson says. He says the TNIV reeks of political correctness.
Barker points out that he and many other translators who worked on the project do not advocate a liberal stance on the role of women in the church and other controversial issues.
Like many Biblical scholars, he insists there is no such thing as a translation free of interpretation.
"The minute you translate, you're making judgments that change the nuances of the original," notes Robert Kraft, a professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
Other popular Bible translations, such as the Revised Standard Version, have generated similar controversy, he says.
"Any break with tradition is going to raise some people's hackles," Kraft says.
Gadflies or Groundswell?
While Stinson's group presents its list of religious leaders unhappy with the TNIV, the Bible's publishers point to an ever-expanding list of prominent supporters.
"We have received more positive responses than we have negative responses," Barker says.
Opponents of the TNIV claim a growing following, however.
"This is not just one organization, this is not just a minority view. This is across the board an evangelical concern," Stinson says.
The president of the 16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention, James Merritt, has joined the opposition's ranks, he says.
"We're not advocating that people boycott or burn their NIVs," Stinson says. "We would hope that they would go back to the drawing board."
To each their own, but I'm opting out of supporting the old NIV.
In addition to the protest form available there (Freeping encouraged), you will find links to the following:
100 Christian Leaders Cannot Endorse the TNIV
100 Christian leaders have issued a joint statement that claims they cannot endorse Todays New International Version (TNIV) that is produced by Zondervan publishers and the International Bible Society.
Citing that the TNIV goes beyond acceptable translation standards in several important respects these leaders emphasize the fact that the TNIV obscures many biblical references to "father," "son," "brother," and "man." In order to accomplish this, translators of the TNIV have inserted English words into the text whose meaning does not appear in the original languages.
The result is that in hundreds of verses, the TNIV changes language with masculine meaning in the original Greek to something more generic.
The list of signatories includes: Ted Baehr, Alistair Begg, Ron Blue, Larry Burkett, Charles Colson, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, James Dobson, Tom Eliff, Steve Farrar, Wayne Grudem, Jack Hayford, Joshua Harris, Howard Hendricks, David Jeremiah, D. James Kennedy, Crawford Lorritts, Erwin Lutzer, Bill McCartney, James Merritt, R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Marvin Olasky, Stephen Olford, J. I. Packer, Janet Parshall, Paige Patterson, John Piper, Dennis Rainey, Pat Robertson, Gary and Barbara Rosberg, R. C. Sproul, Charles Swindoll, Joni Erickson Tada, Don Wildmon, and Bruce Wilkinson.
Randy Stinson, Executive Director of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood says, "This list reveals the depth and breadth of the Evangelical resistance to the TNIV. These leaders represent various types of ministries, denominations, and theological persuasions, but all have a passionate concern about the Bible and the translation process. We are hopeful that Zondervan and the International Bible Society will reconsider and make the necessary changes so that the TNIV will conform to the Colorado Springs Guidelines which were designed to govern the translation of gender-related language."
When asked about the reasons for such a statement, Stinson remarked, "This translation has plunged the evangelical world into a crucial decision-making process that will affect the future direction of Bible translation in the English speaking world and will determine for years to come what kinds of Bibles will be commonly accepted as the preaching, teaching, devotional, memorizing Bibles of the church."
For the full statement of concern along with the complete list of signatories, visit the Website of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood at http://www.cbmw.org.
Also see related post here
Isn't "son of man" the reference to Jesus Christ? If so, then changing this to "human beings" is eliminating outright the holiness of Jesus Christ and making human beings into gods. This is blasphemy.
This version expresses its original and essential Jewishness. Most other English translations of the New Testament present their message in a Gentile-Christian linguistic, cultural, and theological framework. Yeshua, the Messiah, was a Jew, was born to Jews, grew up among Jews, ministered to Jews, and died and rose from the dead in the Jewish capital.Here is the ten commandments as they appear in the Complete Jewish Bible.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
Complete Jewish Bible
Translation by David H. Stern
1. Then God said all these words:
2. "I am ADONAI your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the abode of slavery.
3. "You are to have no other gods before me. 4. You are not to make for yourselves a carved image or any kind of representation of anything in heaven above, on the earth beneath or in the water below the shoreline. 5. You are not to bow down to them or serve them; for I, ADONAI your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6. but displaying grace to the thousandth generation of those who love me and obey my mitzvot.
7."You are not to use lightly the name of ADONAI your God, because ADONAI will not leave unpunished someone who uses his name lightly.
8."Remember the day Shabbat, to set it apart for God. 9. You have six days to labor and do all your work, 10. but the seventh day is a Shabbat for ADONAI your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work-not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you inside the gates to your property. 11. For in six days, ADONAI made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. This is why ADONAI blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for himself.
12. "Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land which ADONAI your God is giving you.
13. "Do not murder.
14. "Do not commit adultery.
15. "Do not steal.
16. "Do not give false evidence against your neighbor.
17. "Do not covet your neighbor's house; do not covet your neighbor's wife, his male or female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor".
It's a Boy!
And also to be faced with reading something that was accurate but not so familiar (for one thing, using Jewish epressions and idioms) - for instance - "Christ" is NOT Jesus' last name but who and what He is - the Messiah - the Annointed One of God.
There was one thing about the Translation (which, by the way, has been remarkably accurate every time I checked against the Greek and other translations) and that is that as I was reading I noticed that, as far as I found, the word "Faith" is never used but rather "Trust"
This sent me off on a long journey (not over) that tranformed my relationship with God. I saw that "Faith", as we normally use it (not in the real technical language sense) carries a TON of baggage with it. I.E. it is something WE have and WE do and WE must...
The work "Trust", however, turns my focus on the character and trustworthiness of the Redeemer and not my own "Faith"
I realize that, on the surface, this may sound like some sort of theological nit-picking (which I despise), but the issue was critical to me.
Tozer said something about "a low view of God" and I believe this has permeated our relationship with the Father to the point where, if we were honest, we really would rather not have very much to do with Him.
Anyhow, I'm rambling a bit, but suffice to say, Stern's translation (I can only speak to the NT)has been a blessing to me and I highly recommend it
The best choice is the KJV. Second best would be a modern version in the same family - New KJV, Third Millennium KJV, etc. But if you want "almost as good as," then why not stick with the KJV?
There are many issues involved, including the use of the original manuscripts. The new versions are quite cavalier with the New Testament.
Me too. It combines the accuracy of the updated KJV with good contemporary readibility.
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