Where are Bible Translations heading?
The Church of Jesus Christ has been entrusted by God with the very words of Scripure, and all those who disseminate that Word, whether from pulpits or printing presses, hold a sacred trust.
On May 27, 1997, twelve men meeting at the headquarters of Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs issued a statement that seemed, at the time, to bring at least some resolution to the serious debate among evangelical leaders concerning the use of gender-inclusive language in the translation of God’s Word, the Bible. We, the undersigned, eight of the twelve who signed that statement, rejoiced that our Lord had brought brothers in Christ to consensus that day, allowing us to speak with one voice concerning this critical matter.
Fellow participants in the May 27th meeting and co-signatories of that statement were the chief executive officers of the International Bible Society (holder of copyright to the largest selling Bible in the English-speaking world, the New International Version), and Zondervan Publishing House (exclusive publishing agent of the NIV), as well as two members of the International Bible Society’s Committee on Bible Translation. By the end of the day we spoke with one voice in acknowledging that “Bible translations should not be influenced by illegitimate intrusions of secular culture or by political or ideological agendas” and that “it is inappropriate to use gender-neutral language when it diminishes accuracy in the translation of the Bible.”
Earlier that same day the governing board of the International Bible Society had, itself, issued a press release stating the organization had “abandoned all plans for gender-related changes in future editions of the New International Version.”
On June 3, 1997, Focus on the Family issued a press release
containing both the statement signed by the May 27th participants and a specific set of rules concerning what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate use of gender-neutral language in Bible translation. This set of rules, titled “Colorado Springs Guidelines for Translation of Gender-Related Language in Scripture,” also was written and signed by the twelve participants in the May 27th meeting. [For a fuller explanation of the events surrounding this meeting, along with the text of the statement and guidelines, see Vern Poythress and Wayne Grudem, “The Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy: Muting the Masculinity of God’s Words” (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2000).]
With this historical background, we are concerned and disappointed by the January 28, 2002, press release by the International Bible Society apparently repudiating the above commitments and announcing a new edition of the New International Version titled, “Today’s New International Version,” which implements “gender-related changes” similar to those IBS earlier renounced.
The Church of Jesus Christ has been entrusted by God with the very words of Scripure, and all those who disseminate that Word, whether from pulpits or printing presses, hold a sacred trust. To change the text of God’s Word so that masculinity intended by the authors of Scripture is muted, and thus risk indirectly obscuring both the archetypal fatherhood of God (as it is manifested in man’s relations), and the true identity of Jesus Christ, is to violate the Word of God; to do so after promising not to do so violates one’s own word.
We call upon the International Bible Society and Zondervan Publishing House again to reverse their announced direction, thus keeping their word and God’s.
Rev. Timothy B. Bayly
Pastor, Church of the Good Shepherd
Founder, Chairman of the Board, WORLD magazine
CEO, God’s World Publications, Inc.
Asheville, North Carolina
James C. Dobson, Ph.D.
President, Focus on the Family
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Rev. Wayne Grudem, Ph.D.
Research Professor of Bible and Theology, Phoenix Seminary Scottsdale, Arizona
Charles W. Jarvis
Chairman and Chief Executive, United Seniors Association Fairfax, Virginia
Rev. John Piper, Dr. Theol.
Senior Pastor, Bethlehem Baptist Church
Rev. Vern S. Poythress, Ph.D., Th.D.
Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Westminster Theological Seminary Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Rev. R. C. Sproul, Ph.D.
President, Ligonier Ministries
Professor of Systematic Theology, Knox Theological Seminary
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
(Institutions listed for the purpose of identification, only.)
* * * * *
Rev. Tim Bayly
Mr. Joel Belz
Dr. Wayne Grudem
Mr. Tom Mason
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
* * * * *
Several Examples of the Inaccuracy of Today’s New International Version (TNIV)
(Note: Evangelical Christians confess the plenary, verbal inspiration of Scripture. Plenary means ‘every,’ verbal means ‘word.’ Thus God inspired each of the words of the original text of the Bible, not simply the concepts behind those words.)
1. Hebrews 2:6
NIV What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
TNIV What are mere mortals that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
Comment: The TNIV obscures the Messianic application of “son of man” to Jesus Christ by mistranslating the Greek singular words anthropos (man), huios (son), and autos (him) with neuter plural forms. These changes also obscure the quotation from Psalm 8:4.
2. Hebrews 12:7
NIV Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?
TNIV Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his
children. For what children are not disciplined by their parents?
Comment: The TNIV obscures the illustration of the Fatherhood of God by mistranslating the Greek singular pater (father) with the neuter plural ‘parents.’ The Greek masculine singular huios can only mean ‘son,’ and not the neuter plural form ‘children.’ See also, Galatians 4:7.
3. Hebrews 2:17
NIV For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
TNIV For this reason he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
Comment: It is impossible for the Greek word adelphoi (brothers) to mean “brothers and sisters” in this context because Jewish high priests were exclusively male and Jesus is male. Jesus was not “made like his sisters in every way.”
4. John 19:12
NIV Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar…”
TNIV Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept
shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar…”
Comment: The TNIV inserts the word “leaders” into the text and thus arbitrarily absolves other Jews from responsibility for the death of Jesus despite the distinction between John’s specific references to leaders (18:35; 19:6,15) and more general reference to Jews (18:35; 19:12,14), and the involvement of large crowds of Jews opposing Jesus (Mark 15:8-15 and Matthew 27:15-25). See also John 7:1,11; 19:31,38; 20:19.
5. Acts 20:30
NIV Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.
TNIV Even from your own number some will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away the disciples after them.
Comment: The TNIV obscures the fact that the church elders in Ephesus were exclusively male by mistranslating the Greek masculine word aner, which can only mean ‘male human being,’ with the neuter term “some.” See also, Acts 1:16, 2:14, 3:12, 4:4, 17:22, Romans 4:8, 11:4 where the meaning of aner is either obscured, or omitted entirely.
6. Romans 10:14
NIV How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?
TNIV How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?
Comment: Both the NIV and the TNIV mistranslate the Greek masculine pronoun hos (him) with the neuter form “one” even though it quite obviously refers in context to the Male Person, Jesus Christ. See also, John 3:34, Romans 5:14.
7. Revelation 3:20
NIV I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
TNIV I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.
Comment: The TNIV mistranslates the masculine singular pronoun autos, substituting plural pronouns, thus losing the teaching that Jesus has fellowship with the individual believer. This type of change was made frequently (e.g., Luke 9:23, John 14:23, Romans 14:7).[For more information, please go to the web site,
http://www.keptthefaith.org, where additional information about this issue has been, and will continue to be, collected.]
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