3 key areas of concern raised in opposing gender-neutral TNIV

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--The gender-neutral Today's New International Version "has gone beyond acceptable translation standards in several important respects," according to a statement issued by 100 Christian leaders May 28.

The TNIV, a revision of the widely used 1984 New International Version Bible translation, was introduced in January by the International Bible Society and Zondervan publishing house.

The nine-paragraph statement, coordinated by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, cites three key areas of concern:

"-- The TNIV translation often changes masculine, third person, singular pronouns (he, his and him) to plural gender-neutral pronouns. For example, in Revelation 3:20, the words of Jesus have been changed from 'I will come in and eat with him, and he with me' to 'I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.' Jesus could have used plural pronouns when He spoke these words, but He chose not to. (The original Greek pronouns are singular.) In hundreds of such changes, the TNIV obscures any possible significance the inspired singular may have, such as individual responsibility or an individual relationship with Christ.

"-- The TNIV translation obscures many biblical references to 'father,' 'son,' 'brother,' and 'man.' For example, in Hebrews 12:7, the NIV says 'Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?' But the TNIV translates Hebrews 12:7, 'Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their parents?' The reference to God as Father is lost. In numerous other verses male-oriented meanings that are present in the original language are lost in the TNIV.

"-- The TNIV translation inserts English words into the text whose meaning does not appear in the original languages. For example, in Luke 17:3, the translators changed 'If your brother sins, rebuke him' to 'If any brother or sister sins against you, rebuke the offender.' The problem is, the word 'sister' is not found in the original language, nor is 'against you,' nor is 'offender.'"

The May 28 statement notes that the TNIV, in modifying "masculine meaning in the original Greek to something more generic," changes:

-- "father" (singular) to "parents."

-- "son" (singular) to "child" or "children."

-- "brother" (singular) to "someone" or "brother or sister," and "brothers" (plural) to "believers."

-- "man" (singular, when referring to the human race) to "mere mortals" or "those" or "people."

-- "men" (plural, when referring to male persons) to "people" or "believers" or "friends" or "humans."

-- "he/him/his" to "they/them/their" or "you/your" or "we/us/our."

-- and, as the statement puts it, switches "hundreds of whole sentences from singular to plural."

The statement then notes, "We wonder how the TNIV translators can be sure that this masculine language in God's very words does not carry meaning that God wants us to see."

Beyond gender-language translation concerns, the statement also laments other "serious problems with the TNIV," such as changing "Jews" to "Jewish leaders" in Acts 13:50 and 21:11. The statement asks, "How do the TNIV translators know [that the change] does not make a false claim, and obscure a possible corporate meaning?"

Another concern, also posed as a question in the statement: "How do [the TNIV translators] know that changing 'saints' to 'those' in Acts 9:13 or to 'believers' in Acts 9:32 or to 'God's people' in Romans 8:27 does not sacrifice precious connotations of holiness which the Greek word carries?"

According to the May 28 statement, the TNIV "raises more concern in this regard than previous Bible versions because, riding on the reputation of the NIV, the TNIV may vie for a place as the church's commonly accepted Bible. We believe that any commonly accepted Bible of the church should be more faithful to the language of the original."

And, the statement concludes, "Because of these and other misgivings, we cannot endorse the TNIV as sufficiently trustworthy to commend to the church. We do not believe it is a translation suitable for use as a normal preaching and teaching text of the church or for a common memorizing, study, and reading Bible of the Christian community."

The TNIV's New Testament, which was published this spring, will be followed by the complete Bible, "expected in 2005," according to IBS/Zondervan news releases, which also noted that the NIV will continue to be published.