NIV Bible Changes Gender-Inclusive Language

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Jimmy Stewart

The world’s
best-selling Bible is getting an upgrade. Since its debut in 1978, the New
International Version, known as the NIV, has been the Bible of choice for
evangelicals, selling more copies than any other version. But a 2002
gender-inclusive edition bombed after being condemned as too liberal.

Translators hope
their latest edition, which is available for
preview at, will avoid a similar
fate. They’ve retained some of the language of the 2002 edition. But they also
made changes—like going back to using words such as “mankind” and
“man” instead of “human beings” and “people” — to
appease critics.

Wheaton College Bible
scholar Doug Moo, head the translation committee, said the group tried to
create an accurate English Bible without angering readers. He thinks even
critics will respect their work. Translators talked to them ahead of time and
gathered suggestions for changes.

“We really tried
to get it right this time,” he said to the The Nashville
. “We tried to be careful about
not bowing to any cultural or ecclesiastical agenda.”

Today, the Committee
on Bible Translation, which translated the NIV, admits Today’s New
International Version, the revision released in 2002, was a mistake. They
substituted “brothers and sisters” where the New Testament writers
used “brothers.”

They also broke a
promise they’d made to James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, John
Piper, pastor of Minneapolis megachurch Bethlehem Baptist, and other
conservative pastors, not to produce a gender-inclusive NIV. In response, Dobson
said translators had distorted the Word of God.

Phelan, senior professor of
theological studies at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, was a
fan of the 2002 version. He worries that the translators have
buckled under pressure from conservatives.

“The whole idea
that we want to make this constituency or that constituency unhappy is
wrong,” he said. “Your job is to produce the most accurate translation possible.”

Moo disagrees. He
says the new version of the NIV is accurate. But he also admits that the committee
did some research to see what words evangelical Christians, who are most
likely to buy the new NIV, prefer. So far most of the critics of the last
version have remained silent about the new one.·

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