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article first appeared under the title "The TNIV
Today 46/11 (October 7, 2002), 37-45.
Mark Strauss's article.
to Mark Strauss
Vern S. Poythress
The main points that Dr. Strauss tries to make are not
new, but have already received a response in Vern S.
Poythress and Wayne A. Grudem, The
Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy: Muting the Masculinity
of God's Words (GNBC; Broadman and Holman,
2000; now online at www.cbmw.org/resources/books
Dr. Strauss says that the TNIV makes improvements to
the NIV, such as using person or people
when that is what the Greek means. But this has never
been the question under debate (see my approval of such
changes in GNBC, 91-99, 197-98). The question is not
whether the TNIV got some things right, but whether
it is faithful in the area of gender--and there
are many places where it is not, verses with changes
in meaning due to the gender-neutral policy stated in
the TNIV preface.
For example, the TNIV changes father to parents
(Heb. 12:7), son to children (Gal.
4:7; Heb. 12:7b; Rev. 21:7), and brother to
fellow believers (1 Cor. 5:11; 2 Thess. 3:15;
1 John 2:10). This neutering of meaning conforms to
political correctness. In all these verses the Greek
is singular and the singular form consistently
carries a male meaning that is dropped by the TNIV (GNBC
Today's NIV," www.keptthefaith.org). Dr. Strauss
confuses the discussion because, under the term inclusive,
he unfortunately lumps together these cases that wrongly
change a male meaning with cases that rightly translate
a Greek meaning that is already explicitly inclusive
(GNBC, 94-95, 115-117).
TNIV's systematic elimination of generic he also causes
meaning changes (GNBC, 111-232, 335-347).
Consider Revelation 22:18:
NIV: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add
to him the plagues ....
TNIV: If anyone of you adds anything to them, God
will add to you the plagues ....
The TNIV's change implies that "you" all
will receive plagues for the sin of "anyone
of you." The TNIV obscures the meaning in the very
verse that forbids tampering with God's Word! The TNIV
removes the masculine singular he/his/him/himself over
400 times (see www.no-tniv.com).
Moreover, in Greek a generic masculine singular typically
suggests a male example, and is not purely gender-neutral,
because the text will sometimes shift seemlessly from
a generic masculine to a specific male example (GNBC,
142-145, 336-339). Contrary to Dr. Strauss's assumption,
the match between Greek and generic he is very good.
The TNIV says of Jesus, "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 ..." (Heb. 2:17). Jesus did become
fully human, identifying with both men and women. But
high priests were always male. By adding sisters
right after brothers, and following it with
the telling phrase in every way, the TNIV makes
it sound as if Jesus is bisexual (male and female).
Such changes, though subtle in individual cases, accumulate
to many meaning changes in the whole. In the process,
even though the translators did not intend it, plenary
inspiration is undermined.
article is not to be reprinted in a print periodical
without the author's permission.