New gender-neutral Bible translation angers conservatives
One of America’s most popular bibles has caused a stir after bowing to political correctness by introducing women and gender-neutral language in its latest translation.
The New International Version Bible (NIV), used by many of the largest Protestant faiths throughout the U.S., has come under fire by conservative groups who argue the changes to the language may alter the theological message.
For example the 2011 version uses ‘people’ instead of the more traditional ‘men’ in some cases.
In older prints Mark 1:17 reads: ‘And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”‘
In the new version the verse reads: ‘”Come follow me,” Jesus said. “And I will send you out to fish for people.”‘
Similarly John the Evangelist declares in the 2005 version: ‘If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar.’ In the new translation brother AND sister appears in this verse.
The translation comes from an independent group of biblical scholars that has been meeting yearly since 1965 to discuss advances in biblical scholarship and changes in English usage.
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), an organisation that believes women should submit to their husbands in the home and only men can hold some leadership roles in the church, has decided they would not endorse the next text before it even hit the shops.
In the 2005 version Revelation 3:20 reads: ‘If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.
This has been replaced with: ‘If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me,’ in the 2011 version.
The CBMW argue that ‘that person’ has a ‘very cold, impersonal feel in comparison to both “them” and “him.”
‘That is not how we speak when we want to maximise the warmth and intimacy of our relationship with someone in English,’ they said.
‘“That person” is how we speak about someone we don’t know. ‘
Similar concerns led the Southern Baptist Convention to reject the NIV’s previous translation in 2005.
The NIV Bible is used by many of the largest Protestant faiths. The translation comes from an independent group of biblical scholars that has been meeting yearly since 1965 to discuss advances in biblical scholarship and changes in English usage.
The new version doesn’t always use gender neutral language however.
It takes reader sensibility into account by not using inclusive terms for some of the most familiar verses where that might sound jarring.
For instance, Matthew 4:4 is rendered, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’
This in itself is a change from the previous version, where the same phase read, ‘People do not live on bread alone.’
‘I think that clause has entered into standard English,’ translator Douglas Moo explained of the move back to the more traditional ‘man.’
‘People know it who don’t know the Bible.’
Moo said the translators hope that the phrasing of the new NIV is so natural that the average reader won’t be aware of any of the gender language concerns that are debated by biblical scholars and linguists.
The change back to the generic ‘man’ in verses like Matthew 4:4 is applauded by the CBMW, but linguist Joel M Hoffman, author of And God Said — How Translations Conceal the Bible’s Original Meaning, said it is simply incorrect.
‘Anthropos (the Greek word in the original text) means ‘person,’ plain and simple,’ he said. ‘It’s as much a mistake as translating ‘parent’ as ‘father”.
He also doesn’t accept the argument that ‘man’ is understood in English to refer to men and women.
‘If you walk into a church on Sunday morning and say, “Will every man stand up?” I would be shocked if the women stood up, too.’
The news comes after changes to an updated translation of the New American Bible were announced last week.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said certain words had to be replaced because they had come to mean different things in modern speech.
The word ‘booty’ has been changed to the ‘spoils’ of war in the new version as it has come to mean ‘bottom’ or ‘sexual intercourse’.
‘Holocaust’ has also been replaced with ‘burnt offerings’ and ‘cereal’ to ‘grain’.
2005: ‘If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.
2011: ‘If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.’
2005: ‘And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”‘
2011: ‘”Come follow me,” Jesus said. “And I will send you out to fish for people.”‘
2005: ‘For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.’
2011: ‘For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a human being.’
2005: ‘If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.’
2011: ‘If any brother or sister sins against you, rebuke the offender; and if they repent, forgive them.’
2005: ‘If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues…’
2011: ‘If anyone of you adds anything to them, God will add to you the plagues…’