The latest version of the popular NIV Bible translation has had its verses on homosexuality reworded, making them clearer in denouncing the practice, a theologian who helped with the translation says.
These clarifications include the verse in 1 Corinthians 6:9, where the 1984 NIV version uses the phrase “homosexual offenders,” while the 2011 translation changes the phrase to "men who have sex with men."
The Committee on Bible Translation, chaired by Dr. Douglas J. Moo, who also serves as Wessner Chair of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College, released the 2011 New International Version last year.
“Debates among Christians about the teaching of the Bible on homosexuality over the last twenty years sparked considerable scholarly interest in relevant words and texts,” said Moo in an interview with The Christian Post.
“This research showed that two Greek words in this verse referred, respectively, to the passive and active participants in male homosexual activity.”
Moo also explained the problem with the previous translation for a verse like the one in 1 Corinthians 6:9.
“The 1984 NIV rendering … did not make clear whether homosexual activity per se was being condemned or whether only certain kinds of ‘offensive’ homosexual activity was being condemned.,” said Moo.
“The updated NIV makes clear that the Greek words here indicate any kind of homosexual activity. The updated NIV also reflects the fact that the key Greek word here refers to males.”
According to Moo, other verses that were altered due to scholarship and to make the message clearer included Romans 1:26-27 and Leviticus 18:22.
In Romans 1:26, the verse “even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones,” was changed to, “even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.” While in Leviticus 18:22, the verse “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman,” was changed to, “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman.”
One verse that appears to have been changed dramatically was 1Timothy 1:10, where the word “perverts” from the 1984 NIV was changed to “those practicing homosexuality.”
“The same key Greek word used in 1 Corinthians 6:9 occurs here also, and so the reason for the change here was the same as the reason for the change in 1 Corinthians 6:9,” said Moo.
The NIV 2011 version debuted amid controversy, with some Christian groups and individuals criticizing the translation for allegedly having too much “gender inclusive” language, similar to the TNIV translation of the Bible.
Last year, members of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Committee on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood criticized the edition, saying the 2011 NIV “cannot be considered sufficiently trustworthy in its translation of gender language."
According to the Committee on Bible Translation’s website, however, every example of gender inclusive language found in the TNIV was “reconsidered,” especially when compared to the 1984 NIV.
“Some changes were preserved, some were rescinded in favor of the 1984 rendering, and many were re-worded in a third, still different way,” reads an entry from the CBT website’s Frequently Asked Questions page.
“All gender decisions for the updated NIV were subjected to rigorous scrutiny in the light of this data to ensure that the words chosen maximize comprehension of the original meaning,” the committee maintains.