Originally dated: Fri, 21 Nov 1997 17:40:39 -0500
May I offer some points to clarify the issue concerning the
gender-inclusive NIV (NIVI)? While I don't think all of the concerns of
the critics of the NIVI are of equal weight, I do think they raised some
1. Groothuis is correct in saying that no version of the NIV was going to
refer to God as She or Mother, or emasculate the references to Father and
Son in the Trinity. Other so-called inclusive Bible translations have been
going this direction, hence the understandable confusion.
2. On the other hand, the matter went deeper than avoiding "man" or "men"
where gender-inclusive substitutes could be used with no loss of meaning
(as Groothuis seems to suggest). For example, the critics of the NIVI
agreed that the Greek anthropoi could be translated "people" instead of
"men" where the word does not refer specifically to male human beings.
Such sensible choices were not the target of criticism. The NIVI was
criticized, for example, because in its zeal to avoid the generic use of
"he" or "him" it changed singular pronouns to plural ones, e.g., "I will
come in and eat with *him*" was changed to ". . . eat with *them*"
(obscuring the fact that Christ's offer is made to Christians as
individuals). Or on another point, the phrase "son of man" was translated
"human beings" in Psalm 8:4, obscuring the application of this text to
Christ (see Heb. 2:6).
3. In some cases the NIVI seems to pursue an agenda of opening offices of
ministry to women at the expense of the text. For example, in Acts 1:21
Peter said that Judas's replacement was to be picked from "the men" who had
been with them from the beginning. The word used here is not the
gender-neutral "anthropos" but the very gender specific "aner," referring
to male human beings. Yet the NIVI changed the text to say Judas's
replacement would be chosen from "those" who had been with them. Peter
clearly thought apostles had to be men; the NIVI eliminates this idea. The
change is suggestive of an egalitarian agenda (the view that there should
be no differences in ministry positions open to men and women).
For those who would like to learn more about the concerns of the critics of
the NIVI, I recommend the June 1997 issue of the "CBMW News," the
newsletter of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Call
888-560-8210, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Their Web site is www.cbmw.com.
Hope this is helpful and appropriate!