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On The Gender-Inclusive NIV (NIVI)

by Robert M. Bowman

This message is part of a discussion on the subject of gender-inclusive language Bibles. It is posted here as a service to the members of the AR-talk mailing list, and provided under these terms.

Originally from: "Robert M. Bowman, Jr."
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 significant issues.

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 cbmwoffice@aol.com. Their Web site is www.cbmw.com.

Hope this is helpful and appropriate!

--Rob Bowman

Robert Bowman works with Reflections Ministries, headed by Dr. Kenneth D. Boa, and teaches part-time at Luther Rice Bible College and Seminary in Lithonia, Georgia.

  • Becky Groothuis' response to this post appears on this CounterPoint page.

Return to CounterPoint Menu
The Bible and Gender-Inclusive Language - E. Calvin Beisner
Re: Debate on inclusive language - Becky Groothuis
Response to Becky Groothuis' Paper - Robert M. Bowman
Women in Christian Perspective (A Bibliography) - Robert M. Bowman

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