<i>NIV 2010</i> and postmodern sensitivities (I)...

(Tim, w/thanks to Andrew) Working for its employer, Biblica, the Committee on Bible Translation has just announced a new line of merchandise labelled the New International Version 2010. Aimed at postmoderns who are quite sensitive to the charges of sexism and anti-Semitism made against Scripture, News Corp's Zondervan has purchased exclusive rights to what is likely to be a highly profitable product line. (The latest year for which stats are available, Zondervan paid Biblica $6,000,000 in royalties.)

David and I have long opposed changing Scripture to make it less offensive. Where does it end? If we're going to avoid offending feminists, what about post-Holocaust Jews? And if we're going to avoid offending feminists and Jews, what about the slaves? And if we're going to avoid offending feminists and Jews and the slaves, what about the gay community? What about all of us who hate repentance--can't they tweak things so repentance isnt' so prominent?

Where does it end?

But really, if we're going to sell Scripture short, let's skip all the secondary offenses and go straight to...

the Cross. The Bible's crowning offense is Jesus saying any man who comes after Him must take up his cross and follow Him. Get rid of that one and we're home free. Why fiddle around the edges?

Well anyway, they're off and running, and you'll soon run into all kinds of important persons, both male and female, hawking these PC Bibles. To help you weigh the decision whether to spend your hard-earned money buying into this latest and greatest, and recognizing how long a book the Bible is, now and then we'll put up examples of some of the texts that have been made less offensive so you tell if your own concerns have been sufficiently addressed.

Here's the first.

James 3:1

NIV (1984): Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

TNIV (2001): Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

NIV (2010): Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

The Committee on Bible Translation orignally issued the TNIV in 2001. It was intended to supplant the NIV products, but for political reasons, sales of the TNIV were limited to  the United KIngdom. The TNIV, then, served as a halfway step from the original NIV to the just-released NIV 2010.

Looking at James 3:1, we see that back in 2001 the Committee on Bible Translation deleted the Greek word 'adelphoi' (literally "brothers"). Postmoderns think it's sexist to refer to teachers as 'brothers," so the Committee on Bible Translation was happy to avoid offense by changing it to "brothers and sisters."

But even that wasn't sufficient because postmoderns find family language offensive, also. The CBT removed family language, leaving the text in tatters. Now they're selling an English text of James 3:6 in which both the sex marking and the family marking have been deleted.

What was originally "brothers" became "brothers and sisters," then "fellow believers."


It's like they are trying to have "a dollar either way" by putting up a construction ("my fellow believers") which will satisfy neither the conservatives nor, I suspect, the feminists.

Are you suggesting that women who teach will not be held to a higher standard?

Clearly, the Bible does not forbid women teaching. It only forbids them from teaching or exercising authority over men. The warnings of James 3 on teaching and the use of the tongue are just as applicable to women as they are to men, are they not?

Gene, no one ever said women should not teach. Rather, the complaint (a valid one, too) is to insert an inference into a ~translation~ of a text, particularly when that inferential paraphrase ~deliberately ~ obscures a lexical feature of the underlying text, in this case the word "brothers."

I'd guess the next step in this process, as public acceptance of homosexuality continues to evolve in the culture, is to efface Paul's unfortunately bigoted references to homosexuality and homosexuals in the pages of his epistles.

Fight back - just start teaching everyone Greek and Hebrew. When it comes to the Word of God, translations aren't supposed to be expressive, but accurate. No one would ever think of modifying a painting to translate it.

Would make an interesting open-source project.

The thing is - do you want to translate literally word-for-word or do you want to translate understanding to understanding. (I know this sounds slippery, but hold on a second)!

For instance, in Latin languages the masculine is always used to refer to groups that contain men and women. For instance, in Spanish, madre = mother and padre = father. But parents are called padres -- like "fathers". But obviously a woman is included there.

I don't know anything about Greek, but I'd really like to know if when they used "brothers" then if it was similar to this, where they used the masculine form to refer to both sexes. If that's the case, then I think it would be appropriate to translate it into brothers and sisters. If it's not the case, then it wouldn't be.

But there are many times the Bible will refer to "men" when it clearly means everyone - men and women. And our language has changed so I think it's appropriate in those cases to use either "everyone" or "men and women". Because in today's English (like it or not) we've really moved away from using the masculine form as the all-inclusive. We now simply say both masculine & feminine forms when we mean to include men and women.

Jonathan, Greek and Hebrew, and...ahem...English...are like that, too. German as well. If we don't believe that English speakers can understand grammatical gender, we've more or less asserted they can't understand ANYTHING written more than 10 years ago or so.


Thanks for the response.

I think the point is that any first year Greek student (or Bible student for that matter) knows that "brothers" in Scripture is usually not a reference to gender (or sex if you prefer) but to our relationship with Christ ... to fellow believers. In modern terminology, "brother" usually connotes a male as opposed to a female. The Greek term does not always connote that.

So by translating it as "my fellow believers" it actually communicates what James intended in a way that "brother" does not. And since authorial intent is the key, then we should try to communicate that in translation.

This is a question of translation. Anyone working in different languages knows that the old "word for word" translation is impossible. It sometimes makes no sense, and sometimes it is just plain old confusing.

So while there may be many things to object to in the NIV (I certainly do, and use the NASB most often), this does not appear to be one of them.

Dear Gene,

You're completely wrong on this, but I'm driving cross-country and can't point out why, yet. In the meantime, readers will find much under the "Bible translation" category. There's good reason Piper, Grudem, Sproul, Patterson, Belz, Poythress, and I were united in opposing this sin, and were joined by so many others.

But that the whole world wants to go this way, leaving the words 'Jew,' 'man,' and 'adam' behind is no surprise--no surprise at all.

It's the way of the world.


Thanks Tim,

I will check back to see your reasons why "brothers" in James 3:1 is referring only to males and not to all believers who would aspire to teach. [NOTE FROM TIM BAYLY: I tire of comments that put words in my own or others' mouths. No one has ever said what Gene demands we defend, here.] I was under the impression that you agreed with me in your first response that it is referring to teachers, and since women can be teachers, the "brothers" is obviously not gender specific. So it is confusing to see you now disagree. Perhaps I misunderstood.

You say that the translation is confusing a lexical feature. But if "adelphoi" can mean "fellow believers" (something undeniable I think), then it isn't obscuring a lexical feature. It is merely picking a lexical feature that you don't happen to like. When you translate it "brothers" you could be charged with obscuring a lexical feature because you are ruling out other lexical options.

Surely, Tim, you are familiar with "semantic domains." It simply means that a given word may have multiple possible meanings. To pick one of those meanings is not an interpretation, per se. It is translation.

I think you are oversimplifying this, and I think you are probably overreaching in calling it a sin. I am not sure that Piper, Grudem, et al, are opposing James 3:1 being understood as "fellow believers." [NOTE FROM TIM BAYLY: Again, who has opposed this "being understood" to include women? No one.] In fact, I would be very surprised if they are. On the whole man/woman thing, I am totally on board with them. So I am not defending it and were I translating it, I would probably leave it as brothers. But we have to understand that that is confusing, and it places the authority in the preacher who has to explain it rather than in the text that is being explained.

Gene - Pastor Bayly will (and has) addressed this himself, but I'll add this: at most, adelphoi *may* mean "brothers and sisters" in some context and *does* mean "brothers only" in others. This is true of Paul, this is true of Greek. So if someone comes along and says it always means "brothers and sisters", without regard to the context, and isn't willing to be bothered by this discrepancy between their interpretation and reality, than that is a problem, agreed?

>>the "brothers" is obviously not gender specific.

Dear Gene,

Actually, this word 'brothers' has a very gender-specific meaning component that is removed when the word is changed to "brothers and sisters," "Christian friends," or "fellow Christian believers."

When the Holy Spirit calls the race "adam" as He does all through the Old Testament; and when He calls fellow believers "brothers" as He does all through the New Testament; the male meaning component communicates that God our Father made Adam our federal head--not Eve, and not Adam *and* Eve. Thus, referring to a mixed-sex group with a word possessing a male meaning component teaches theological truths about God's Order of Creation--Adam first, and then Eve. It also teaches God's decree that in that one man, Adam, we all die; and in that one man, Jesus Christ, we are all made alive.

Take out the male meaning component and you leave all that old-and-in-the-way meaning behind.

Which of course is the point. When male meaning components are declared extraneous or confusing, it's as certain as death and taxes that they're neither.

Rather, they're offensive and must be removed from the English language. And then, when we've prevailed in removing them from the English language, we'll have all the justification we need to remove them also from English language Bibles products we're marketing to postmoderns.


PS: Gene: what's your name, please?

"...when He calls fellow believers "brothers" as He does all through the New Testament; the male meaning component communicates that God our Father made Adam our federal head--not Eve, and not Adam *and* Eve."

If eisegesis were an Olympic sport I believe you'd have no trouble making it to the medal stand.

Several have done yeoman's work in putting together lists of the thousands of places Zondervan/Biblica's employees have changed the original Hebrew and Greek inspired by the Holy Spirit in order to produce their new line of Bible products (NIV 2010). They've silenced the Word of God in order to keep postmoderns from accusing Scripture of being sexist, antisemitic, and homophobic. Gagging God is alive and well:







http://www.biblewebapp.com/niv2011-changes/#046-006 (NB 6:9)

The wickedness of this systematic attack on the Word of God is almost beyond belief. Run from it, dear souls. Run for your life!