Report: 75 Percent of TNIV Gender-Related Problems in Updated NIV Bible

A new report by a leading critic of the TNIV finds that 75 percent of gender-related problems in the now-defunct version are retained in the updated NIV Bible.

The Committee on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood this week published a full critical evaluation of the new NIV Bible, concluding that the latest translation "cannot be considered sufficiently trustworthy in its translation of gender language." The findings were consistent with the group's November statement that refused to commend the 2011 NIV (actually copyrighted 2010) due to "gender-related" language problems it previously identified in the TNIV.

In the new NIV Bible, the Committee for Bible Translation – translators of the NIV – put back in some passages masculine pronouns, including "son," "he," "him," "his," "father," and "brother." The new translation debuted in March and was promoted by publisher Zondervan as "gender-neutral" and the latest update to the bestselling NIV in 25 years.

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But those changes were not enough to satisfy the CBMW.

The new 23-page review by CBMW found that the latest NIV translation included 2,766 gender-related “inaccuracies” from the TNIV, only a 25 percent improvement from the 3,699 "inaccuracies" of the TNIV.

Most of the language that was kept the same from the TNIV occurs in the Old Testament, the report showed.

CBMW also published two Excel spreadsheets, one for the Old Testament and another for the New Testament, detailing the raw data that formed the basis for the study. The spreadsheets included a summary of the statistical findings and an exhaustive list of specific words that were changed.

Using its findings, CBMW also contended the 2011 NIV is not a revision based on the 1984 NIV, but a revision based on the 2005 TNIV.

Another major critique by the conservative evangelical organization is that the 2011 NIV language favors "evangelical feminists" in regards to women's role in the church.

In particular, the report took issue with 1 Timothy 2:12, the verse typically raised in opposition to women being ordained as pastors or holding leadership positions in ministry. The 2011 NIV revises the phrase "have authority" to "assume authority."

1 Timothy 2:12

NIV(1984):   I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.

NIV(2011): I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority  over a man; she must be quiet.

Some Bible bloggers say that the revision leaves the debate on whether women should be able to lead a church open.

CBMW disagrees, saying the new translation of 1 Timothy 2:12 supports the idea of having women pastors and leaders in church.

"[W]omen pastors and elders can just say, 'I'm not assuming authority on my own initiative; it was given to me by the other pastors and elders.' Therefore any woman could be a pastor or elder so long as she does not take it upon herself to 'assume authority,'" the group stated.

NIV translators "have given legitimacy to a feminist interpretation that did not have legitimacy from any other modern English translation," CBMW added.

The analysis also points to another highly disputed verse, 1 Corinthians 14:33-34, regarding women's role in the church.

1 Corinthians 14:33-34

NIV(1984):   For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.

As in all the congregations of the saints women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.

NIV(2011): For God is not a God of disorder but of peace – as in all the congregations of the Lord's people.

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.

CBMW argued that the separate paragraph on women remaining silent also favors a feminist interpretation of the Bible.

But the report points out that by separating "women should remain silent in the churches" from "as in all the congregations of the Lord's people," the text supports the feminist argument that Paul was only addressing a local problem at Corinth.

In February, a Zondervan executive told The Christian Post that it has no intention of issuing a response to CBMW's November critique.

Chip Brown, senior vice president of Bibles for Zondervan, has maintained that they "cannot please everyone."

"What the CBMW said was they cannot commend it. That's fine. They may like other translations better," Brown told CP.

"We're at a place in time where as long as people aren't being unbiblical with their translation, people can agree to disagree on the rendering of certain verses. That's just the way it goes."

After ripping the 2011 NIV apart, CBMW only had two good things to say about the new translation: (1) 933 improvements in accuracy in translating gender language in places where CBMW had criticized the TNIV in 2002 and 2005 and (2) the entire translation process was carried on in a commendable spirit of transparency and openness.

In its concluding remarks of the analysis, CBMW again reiterated its disapproval of the 2011 NIV.

"We regret, therefore, that we cannot recommend the 2011 NIV as a sufficiently reliable English translation. And unless Zondervan changes its mind and keeps the current edition of the 1984 NIV in print, the 2011 NIV will soon be the only edition of the NIV that is available. Therefore, unless Zondervan changes its mind, we cannot recommend the NIV itself."

On the Web: The full report by the Committee on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, entitled "An Evaluation of Gender Language in the 2011 Edition of the NIV Bible"

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