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Changing God's words

"Changing God's words" Continued...

Issue: "Lebanon: Democracy now," Feb. 26, 2005

TNIV (2005): What are mere mortals that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? [identical to NIVI (1996)]

Change in meaning: The singular "man" meaning "the human race" is changed to plural "mere mortals," wrongly removing the sense of unity of the human race (the Hebrew is singular). The Hebrew singular ben which means "son" and the singular 'adam which means "man" are incorrectly translated with the plural "human beings," removing masculine meaning, and thus removing the title "son of man," which Jesus often used of Himself. (The TNIV also incorrectly removes "son of man" when this verse is quoted in Hebrews 2:6.)

Psalm 34:20

Current NIV: He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.

TNIV (2005): He protects all their bones, not one of them will be broken. [identical to NIVI (1996)]

Change in meaning: The third-person masculine singular "his" rightly represents the third-person masculine singular pronoun suffix in Hebrew, and the TNIV incorrectly pluralizes this to "their bones." This obscures the fulfillment of this verse in Christ's crucifixion in John 19:36. This part of Psalm 34 speaks of God's protection of an individual righteous man: God protects "his bones." Why does the TNIV refuse to translate hundreds of third-person masculine singular pronouns in the original languages as third-person masculine singular pronouns in English? What is the objection to male-oriented language when it accurately reflects the original Hebrew or Greek text?

Proverbs 5:21

Current NIV: For a man's ways are in full view of the Lord.

TNIV (2005): For your ways are in full view of the Lord. [identical to NIVI (1996)]

Change in meaning: The Hebrew male-specific noun 'ish means "a man," as the NIV correctly translated it. The TNIV incorrectly changes this to "your," and thus restricts the statement to the "you," which in this context is the son being warned by his father in the previous verse. The text no longer affirms God's observation of the ways of every person (represented by the concrete example of "a man").

These last two verses (Psalm 34:20; Proverbs 5:21) also demonstrate another serious result of systematically changing singulars to plurals in hundreds of cases: The TNIV will ultimately lead to a loss of confidence in tens of thousands of plural pronouns in the Bible. A preacher cannot rightly use the TNIV to make a point based on the plurals "they/them/ their/those" or the second-person pronouns "you/your/yours" because he can no longer have confidence that those represent accurately the meaning of the original. Maybe the original was plural ("their"), but then again maybe "their" is a gender-neutral substitute for a singular ("his"). Maybe the original was second person ("you"), but then again maybe "you" is a gender-neutral substitute for a third-person singular pronoun ("he") or a singular noun ("a man"). How can any ordinary English reader know? He can't. So no weight can be put on those pronouns. "He" in the NIV has become "we" or "you" or "they" in the TNIV hundreds and perhaps even thousands of times.

How many pronouns are thrown into doubt? The forms of "we/us/our/ourselves" occur 4,636 times, of "you/your/ yours/yourselves" 21,205 times, and the forms of "they/them/their/ themselves/those" 19,372 times, for a total of 45,213 pronouns. How can we know which of these 45,213 are trustworthy, and which are the TNIV's gender-neutral substitutes for the correct translation "he/him/his"? The only way is to check the Hebrew and Greek text in each case, and who is going to do that? Can you really study, or memorize, or teach or preach from such a Bible where you can't trust this many pronouns?

Another measure of the extent of the changes comes from seeing that the TNIV has 1,826 more instances of second-person pronouns such as "you/your/yours/yourself" than were in the NIV. Did 1,826 new examples of second-person verbs and pronouns suddenly appear in the original Hebrew and Greek texts? No, most of these are gender-neutral substitutes for the objectionable words "he/him/his," which were translated correctly in the NIV. And the TNIV has 2,321 more examples of forms of "they/them/their/those/themselves" than the NIV. Did 2,321 new examples of third-person plural verbs and pronouns suddenly appear in the original Hebrew and Greek texts? No, most of these again are gender-neutral substitutes for "he/ him/his," which were translated correctly in the NIV. You can't trust the pronouns in the TNIV. This is a deficiency so great as to render the TNIV unsuitable for widespread use in the church.

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