The New International Version is obviously one of the most widely used Bible translations out there. Most people enjoy it, including myself. But many people disliked it, mainly because it skewed the letters of Paul to be a little more liberal in nature than other translations. But, overall, it was mostly acceptable. It rode the line, right in the middle of the “Word-for-Word” and “Thought-for-Thought” chart.
A “Word-for-Word” translation is striving to translate the exact language of the original texts (such as the KJV or the Amplified Bible). A “Thought-for-Thought” translation is trying to keep true to the original texts and yet translate them to be more easily understood to today’s readers (such as the NLT and The Message). The 1984 version of the NIV was smack dab in the middle.
Then, in 2005, Zondervan released the TNIV, Today’s New International Version, which was not received well. The biggest reasons behind the disapproval were “gender-neutral” translations and replacing “shadow of death” with “darkness” in many stories.
The “shadow of death” thing was mainly an issue because in many stories it changes things from a life-and-death issue to a happiness-and-depression issue. An example was the book of Job, where death is no longer a fear, just darkness, which reads as “depression” to the typical reader. So, apparently, if Job lived today, he could just take a pill. You see the problem?
However, the “gender-neutral” thing was the big issue, changing any references of “man” or “brothers” to “man and woman” and “brothers and sisters.” In several instances, it even seems to throw the gender of God into question.
In 2009, the TNIV died out. However, it seems Zondervan has decided that the failure of the TNIV wasn’t a problem with their translation, but with Christians disliking change.
So, in 2011, they quickly pulled a switcheroo. The NIV was no longer what we thought it was.
They took a large percentage of their changes made in the TNIV and made them in the NIV. Once people figured out that the NIV was different in all the wrong ways, they saw that the NIV they had come to trust was now called the NIV84.
“So?” you may be asking, “What the big deal? It’s the same situation as before. You have the normal NIV and a new one. If everybody keeps using NIV84, won’t the new NIV die out just like the TNIV did?”
Well, it may have, except Zondervan is taking a bold step to make sure that can never happen.
Very soon, you will see that the 1984 version of the NIV will no longer exist. *Poof* and it’s gone forever.
That way, the NIV they revised and pushed on us becomes the only NIV. And because so many Bible Studies and programs, etc., all typically use the NIV, almost all will most likely continue to use this revised version, because other translations just scare people.
So, we’ll be stuck with it, whether we like it or not.
“So?” you may be asking again. “Is it really worth all the stink? So they made it more inclusive to women. Is that such a bad thing?”
The issue is not about making it more gender-neutral. The issue is about man thinking he knows better than God.
Supporters of the new NIV like to paint their opponents as misogynistic, desiring to cling on to antiquated gender roles that keep women submissive to men.
That’s ridiculous. Mainly because in almost all of these churches, women basically run things because men aren’t stepping up. But that’s another article for another time.
There are many valid arguments against the new NIV’s use of “gender-neutral” language.
First of all, and maybe the biggest issue, is that the translators are telling us what God “ought” to have done. God “should” have been gender-neutral when he guided the hands of the writers. Basically, we are saying that God did something wrong and we know how to fix it.
The reason this is different from the myriad of other translations out there is that “gender-neutral” language is not a part of the translation process. It’s a deliberate change of the original text to fit our social ideals.
Secondly is the fact that the Bible isn’t as gender-exclusive as people think. I mean, when God refers to “man” or “manhood,” it is quite obvious he means “humanity,” which means both men and women – every human.
Thirdly, we tend to think that the Bible is about us. It’s not. The Bible is ultimately about Jesus and his love for his Bride, which is us.
“Wait! What? The Bible calls us Jesus’ bride?!”
Yeah, folks. The church, meaning Christian women AND MEN, are the Bride of Christ. That’s a feminine description, no two ways about it. And it’s Biblically accurate.
Fourthly, this kind of “inclusive” language is basically calling women stupid. It’s pandering. It’s telling them that they aren’t smart enough to know that “man” means “all of humanity.” Poor little women and their inferior brains. We must help them.
However, perhaps one of the biggest reasons that the gender-inclusive NIV is bad for women was written by Mary Kassian from Girls Gone Wise:
[The Revised NIV] is less inclusive of women. Gender inclusive Bibles cast women as “other” rather than part of the collective whole. God collectively named male and female “man” (Hebrew: ‘adam. See Gen. 5:2) to indicate that male and female would share a common condition for which He would provide a common answer. Because both male and female are ‘adam, both are equally represented by the first man, Adam. Both are fallen and in need of a Savior. The good news of the gospel is that both are also equally represented by the Second Man—the Last Adam—Jesus Christ. When God named male and female ‘adam, he had the Last Adam in mind. So when, in order to appease modern sensibilities, we change “man” to something we think is more inclusive, we diminish the theological meaning and exclude woman. If woman is not specifically identified as “man” then how can she be represented by the first man, Adam? What’s more, how can she be represented by the Second Man, the Last Adam, Jesus Christ? Gender inclusive Bibles are supposed to be more inclusive of women, but pardoxically, the language theologically does the exact opposite. It excludes women from the collective whole.
Very well put.
Honestly, when people badmouthed the original NIV from 1984, I often thought they were nit-picky fanatics. So they interpreted things a little differently… big deal. That’s why there are dozens of translations out there.
And truthfully, I had the same notion about the new version. I thought, “This is the same crying they’ve always done.” But after really reading up on it, and hearing commentary from both sides, I am convinced that this is not the right direction.
I have very few problems with NIV84, no more than any other trusted translation, but the revised NIV is not something I can recommend.
Too bad there will be no escaping it.
Quite the genius plan, Zondervan.