I do not have this version of the Bible but with all the controversy, I am thinking that it may be the version to get this year.  I actually linked to this page via Bob Smietana.  Even more interesting – I found a site; a journal of sorts I guess, called the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.  My, oh my! 

I remember the old days – the days when the King James Version was the correct version.  In fact when I was growing up it was about the only version.  Oh, yeah, there was the RSV – but it was sort of suspect.  Then the floodgates were opened and before you knew it there were all sorts of translations.  Some of them actually were understandable and still kept enough of the poetry to be nice sounding as well.  I don’t know if nice sounding is the highest criteria for a book that is meant to change our lives.  But if it helps it to be readable that is good. 

But all this gender stuff!  I don’t get too bent out of shape about being called part of mankind.  But I don’t get all bent out of shape about mankind being called people or the human race or whatever term is used.  If worries me a lot more to find that people will pigeonhole men and women into certain gender roles as if those are the only ones that God intended.  Using gender explicit terms in any version of the Bible should not be justification for imposing certain roles as being the “Christian” way to behave. 

Well, that’s my opinion anyway.  But I am not some big name Christian so it is unlikely that anyone cares. 

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  1. Interesting. I have a preview copy of TNIV New Testament and it looks, more or less, EXACTLY like the regular NIV, except where it used to have a masculine word with a gender-neutral meaning or intent it puts in a gender neutral term.

    So, for example, where the NIV might say (these aren’t actual examples, I’m just making them up) “Man cannot live on bread alone”, the TNIV would say, “People cannot live on bread alone”. Or where the NIV might say, “Brothers…”, the TNIV would say, “Brothers and sisters…”.

    Like you, I’m not too concerned about what gender a word is. I really don’t see what the fuss is. The NLT (New Living Translation), although a different type of translation than the NIV and TNIV, has done the same thing with gender-neutral words and nobody seems to be saying anything about it. IN fact, many people are switching to NLT.

    My guess is that people have had the NIV for almost 30 years now and they’re uncomfortable with people ‘tampering’ with it.

    That said, I’m not a Bible scholar, nor do I have much knowledge about Bible translation. And there are some pretty weighty names on that list of signatories…

  2. Actually I thought Bob did a prety good job of sumarizing the whole deal.

  3. Thanks Linnea and Randall. You can get a free TNIV at this site through mid February

  4. Phil L

    My viewpoint is that a “translation” should try to stay as close to the original text as possible, while still being readable. A “paraphrase” on the other hand I see as having more leeway. I like “The Message” for supplemental reading (though the colloquial style becomes wearisome after awhile) but I’d never consider it my primary version, because I see it as a paraphrase coloured with Peterson’s theology, rather than a translation. I really like the readability of the NLT, and sometime I’ll probably get a copy of the TNIV. However for now I’ll probably continue to consider the NIV my main bible, because I understand it to be faithful to the original text. (Why does the TNIV translate “saints” as “believers” … to me it seems to lose so much meaning, including the process of becoming conformed to the image of Christ?) Upon reading through the “NIV Response Center” statement and Smietana’s blog, I don’t find myself in total agreement with either of them. I won’t sign the statement because I think it goes too far (e.g. “We do not believe it is a translation suitable for use … for a common … reading Bible of the Christian community”). However I think Smietana’s blog entry is also unfair, e.g. mentioning William Tyndale being burned at the stake automatically creates sympathy for the TNIV translators and hostility for the folks like J.I. Packer and Jack Hayford who have honest concerns about remaining faithful to the original texts.

  5. Hmmm…looks like I should read Bob’s entry. A bit longish, so maybe later.

    I do understand some of the concerns (for instance, losing the father-son imagery), but I’m not sure it calls for this petition-type response.

  6. Linea

    I think we do well to remember some of the early translators of the Bible and how they were treated by the established church when we look at any reaction to a new translation of the Bible. We look back now and say that this new version shouldn’t be given the same status as the translation into English was back in the time of Wycliff and Tyndale. I don’t have a problem with raising concerns over specific interpretations. It is the fact that it looks like an organized segment of the western church is attacking this on the issue of gender neutral language that sort of bothers me. Thats where I see some strong similarities.

    I’m no expert in Biblical translation issues. I am also not a fanatic when it comes to insisting on gender neutral language in order to feel valued as an equal to a man, especially in God’s eyes. But I am most concerned about what a conflict like this does to those who look at the church already with a jaded eye. In the light of what is going on in the world – all the pain and suffering, hate and terror – we quibble over language.

  7. Linea

    Bob – Thanks for the free copy site. But up here in Canada we don’t get no freebies! Who knows – a subversive book like this might be confiscated at the border.

  8. Phil L

    It seems to me that honestly expressing different opinions on how the original texts should be translated isn’t quibbling. I don’t think there is such a thing as the perfect English version since they are all translated or paraphrased by fallible humans. However I believe that scripture is inspired by God, and since I’m just a layman who can’t read the original languages, I want to know that what I’m reading is as close to the original wording as humanly possible. The meaning of the words may not always be clear, but I’d rather see footnotes and commentaries handle those interpretations.

  9. Clinton

    I remember hearing of a translation into an Inuit language where the people had no idea what sheep or shepherds were. The translators had to decide what they were going to do. The Inuit received a translation that compared Jesus to a mother walrus and His follower’s to her pups. It wasn’t faithful to the text, but it was faithful to the meaning, kinda.

  10. Phil L

    I think the problem I have with Bob Smietana’s article is that it seems to trivialize the concern by misrepresenting it. If the issue were merely over whether “humankind” or “mankind” should be used, the concern might indeed be trivial. However there is a whole list of changes, mostly gender-related, but including other changes. I have less concern about the humankind vs. mankind change than with changing references to

    God as “Father” to “Parents” (e.g. Hebrews 12:7). The entire statement is available at

    Clinton: I’ve also heard of a South Seas tribe which didn’t know what a sheep was … their translation had Jesus as a pig. Sounds heretical to us, but it was a word that they understood. However I think all tribes understand the difference between Father and Parents.