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September 06, 2004



I've got a copy of the NIV Inclusive Language Edition that came out in 1996 but was only published in Europe... I had someone buy it for me in Ireland. There was a huge outcry from the same group of people -- I remember World magazine had a cover that said, "The Stealth Bible." The hubbub was large enough that Zondervan didn't publish it in the US. It will be interesting how this plays out.


This is very interesting. I hadn't heard of this translation yet. Can you help me understand the point of view of people who are "for" this version? The examples given by the people against it not only included things where gender was changed, but other things as well. I would love to get myself a copy and read it. I grew up in that kind of climate as well and am still struggling with how I feel about all of this. Thanks for the post.


I don't think the arguments for this kind of translation is just political correctness. Many verses that contain masculine pronouns are obviously not to be limited to men only.

I think we have to ask two questions:

1. What could be wrong with translating them as gender-neutral?

2. Why risk the possibility of misleading people by leaving them gender-specific?

I sometimes feel awkward when reading the Bible to teenagers, for example. Maybe they already know that "he" really means "he or she." But what if they don't? I think the arguments against this translation are ridiculous from what I've seen so far.


Here is a statement made by Zondervan and the International Bible Study, justifying their new translation.


I am amazed of what some people think about the TNIV. It is a bit embarrassing on ther part. Think, these are soem of the "great" teachers of the faith. Are they really? Sounds like these folks are addicted to their religion more than they are attempting to follow Jesus. I guess the same could be said for me as well.
Nice post. Thanks,

Rick, a new reader.


As a woman, and the mother of two girls, I'm pretty excited about this version. Jesus, when He healed the woman with the bleeding disorder made it plain that women were important to Him, that their plight in being "unclean" mattered to Him. It was a radical miracle. It will be neat to read "Peace on earth, good will toward all the people" and such. I'll be getting one.


Thanks for the info. It sounds like a good thing. In my opinion to many people try to control things instead of letting the Holy Spirit do its work.

Pat Loomis

It seems to me that you wade into very dicey water when you start re-interpreting the Bible, which, in essence, is what these folks are doing. If a man/men wrote a passage from his/their cultural perspective many years earlier, a passage we now, with our greater enlightenment, believe to be incorrect, what happens when we "correct" it? The literal interpretation of the Bible has been compromised. The words from the actual text have now been interpreted rather than translated as they actually are. Did God know back then that we'd have this problem with the language now? I'm sure he did. Yet, he let that man/men use the language they used. Why is that? Did God make a mistake?

I think you're opening Pandora's box when you let people overlay their own cultural perspectives onto the Bible. While we're at it, maybe the language about homosexuality is wrong? After all, back then they didn't know that sexual orientation happens at BIRTH, that it can’t be changed. Maybe we should change that too? Or the instructions the apostle Paul gives about women? Obviously incorrect. And as for all those tired, old farming analogies…

If you want a version of the Bible where the language reflect modern sensibilities, call it a paraphrase. I love paraphrases and would support that type of Bible without question. And as for teaching teenagers … today’s teens are very smart. You can surely explain to them the cultural atmosphere in which the Bible was produced, as you’ve done, Bill. They’ll catch on right away.

I am a woman and I rather see an ancient and much revered holy book like the Bible treated with a little more common sense.



#1. You have to realize that EVERY translation is an interpretation.

#2. I don't think we're talking about "correcting" something. I think we're talking about correctly translating it.

#3. There is always going to be a cultural overlay. And yes, I do believe some of what Paul wrote about women (using an example you gave) was related to specific cultural context. There are probably principles there, but they are difficult to get at from our own present day context.

#4. I think you're being hypocritical when you claim that it would be okay to "reflect modern sensibilities" in a paraphrase.

#5. If it's so easy to explain the "cultural atmosphere in which the Bible was produced" to teens, how come you don't get it? You seem to understand the principles the IBS has chosen to follow on the one hand, but do not want to use them on the other.

#6. I don't worship the Bible. I don't claim, as Muslims claim about the Khoran, that it is the exact words of God, which he personally dictated. I have come to believe that such phrases as "the literal interpretation" represent this kind of misguided thinking.

Thanks for the dialogue, by the way! I love the chance to discuss these issues.

Just Me

I must say (after reading the full statement) that I agree with the protesters. And for me it has to do with the singular/plural issue more than anything. "He" does not automatically become "they" when you make it gender neutral or gender-inclusive. "They" is plural and means more than one. It seems to me that putting plural forms detracts from the personal- one on one - relationship that is often an important part of the verse, i.e., Rev. 3:20. Also, I believe that as a male you're overreacting on my behalf and frankly, I don't need you to. I understand "he" to be "human," and your female teenagers can too. I wouldn't even want to call it a paraphrase.


I may be overreacting from your standpoint, but I think you have to be sensitive to people who ARE bothered by it. Also, of course, there's no reason for it in this day and age.

The verse you gave is a fine example: "If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in..."

and eat with him --vs.-- and eat with them

The word "them" there does not mislead me to believe there is more than one person. People use it that way all the time. If you ask me why someone is arguing with me about the TNIV, and I don't want to give away THEIR gender (to protect THEIR identity!), I would say, "THEY are mad because...yada yada."

I don't think the use of the word "they" detracts from a one-on-one meaning at all.


I think a lot of the arguement isn't so much about how the language in current versions isn't gender sensitive. I think it is more the church as a whole isn't gender sensitive and this is one way of trying to improve that maybe. If church leaders and members understood that and made changes, not as many people would be turned off by the church.


bill thanks for the post. This is a topic I feel very strongly about in a way that is greatful for inclusive language. As such, I will limit my words. Thanks for addressing, in the comments, that ALL translations are interpretations. Why do people feel they need to defend God? And box Him up? Are they scared of His truth, or the ones we choose to live in?

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