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Changing God's words

"Changing God's words" Continued...

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

De-emphasizing the manhood of Christ

NIV 1 Corinthians 15:21: For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.

TNIV 1 Corinthian 15:21: For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a human being.

Comment: Here the Greek word is anthropos, which can mean either "man" or "person," depending on context. But in this context it refers to Adam and Christ and the meaning "man" is appropriate. What is the objection to calling them "men"?

NIV Hebrews 2:17 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 Hebrews 2:17: 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: Did Jesus have to become like his sisters "in every way" in order to become a "high priest in service to God"? All the Old Testament priests were men, and surely the high priest was only a man. This text does not quite proclaim an androgynous Jesus (who was both male and female), but it surely leaves open a wide door for misunderstanding, and almost invites misunderstanding. Meditate on that phrase "in every way" and see if you can trust the TNIV.

Removing whole phrases from the bible

NIV Matthew 7:4: How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

TNIV Matthew 7:4: How can you say ___________, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

NIV Matthew 15:5 . . . if a man says to his father or mother, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,'

TNIV Matthew 15:5: . . . if anyone declares _______________ that what ____ might have been used _______ to help their father or mother is 'devoted to God,'

Expanding the penalty for adding to the words of Scripture

NIV Revelation 22:18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.

TNIV Revelation 22:18: I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If any one of you adds anything to them, God will add to you the plagues described in this scroll.

Comment: The first "you" added by the TNIV is plural, referring to the whole group of hearers. Therefore the second "you" is also plural, and if anyone in the group adds to the words of prophecy the penalty is now expanded to the whole group.

Objections by TNIV defenders

The defenders of the TNIV respond, "But all translations make these kinds of translation decisions." No, they do not. They do not systematically remove hundreds of male-specific terms when there is a male-oriented term in the original, nor do they change hundreds of singular verses to plural just to avoid using the word "he."

Defenders of the TNIV fail to mention that in the major "essentially literal" translations (such as the ESV, NASB, HCSB, and NKJV) translating singulars as plurals is rare, done only in unusual cases like collective nouns that have a singular form in Greek but require a plural for the same plural sense in English, or neuter plural subjects that take a singular verb because of a particular feature of Greek grammar that does not match what English does. In addition, there are some difficult Old Testament poetic verses where the Hebrew pronouns shift frequently in ways difficult for anyone to understand. But these are unusual exceptions.

To say that "the TNIV is just doing what all translations do" is not coming clean with the Christian public regarding the extent of the changes. It is like saying that a student who misspelled 100 words in a term paper "is just doing what the teacher does" because she misspelled one difficult word in class five months ago. It is not the same.

Another question is, "Why are you only attacking the TNIV?" First, Vern Poythress and I systematically critiqued several gender-neutral translations in our book, The TNIV and the Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy. Second, the NIV is the most widely used translation in the English language, so its policies have great influence. Third, other translations that use much gender-neutral language (such as The Message or the New Living Translation) have been "dynamic equivalent" translations that are read more as commentaries and interpretations of what the Bible says rather than as "word for word" or "essentially literal" translations. But the NIV is different, because many people use it as their main Bible for study, teaching, preaching, and memorizing, and they depend on it much more for accuracy in the very words. I believe the TNIV is no longer sufficiently trustworthy to be used for these purposes.

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