The most popular English Bible, the NIV 1984, has undergone a makeover and it’s not exactly a good transformation. This year, Zondervan released the new NIV 2011 which will completely replace the soon-to-be discontinued NIV 1984. This 2011 NIV is a revision of the highly controversial and inaccurate gender-neutral TNIV of 2005, which got rid of most of the uses of “him/he/his,” “brother,” “father,” and “man,” replacing them with the gender-inclusive plural “them/they” or “that person.”
The NIV’s translators, the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT), has made some improvements from the NIV 1984, such as changing Philippians 4:13 to now read “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” The “this” refers to contentment in all circumstances, which is the previous context rather than “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” and corrected many of the controversial gender-neutral renderings in the TNIV. However, they have still kept 75% of the 3,699 inaccurate gender-neutral translations found in the TNIV translation. These “slight” changes can make significant changes in one’s theology, teaching, personal relationship with God and in the end, the Gospel.
Here are just a few examples of these inaccurate changes:
1. Endorses feminist-leaning translations:
1 Timothy 2:12 (NIV 1984)– I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.
1 Timothy 2:12 (NIV 2011)– I do not permit a woman to teach or assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.
This new rendering favors the egalitarian approach and can be used to argue that women can become pastors/preachers as long as they don’t “assume” the position of power without having been given it first. All other modern English translations translate authenteo as “have authority” or “exercise authority” and even the most liberal translation NRSV translates it as “have authority.”
Interestingly enough, the CBT which is trying to be politically correct and gender-inclusive does not change any of the feminine pronouns (she/her) or change “mother,” “daughter,” or “woman” which leaves the reader wondering if they only have a problem with any references to men but not women. To be truly gender-neutral, one must change both the masculine AND feminine word usages.
2. Changes “mighty men” to “mighty warriors.”
2 Samuel 23:8 (NIV1984)– These are the names of David’s mighty men: Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.
2 Samuel 23:8 (NIV 2011)-These are the names of David’s mighty warriors: Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.
This change may seem insignificant but after doing some research into the Hebrew you find that the word used for “mighty men” is related to the adjective gibbor which means “strong, valiant man.” It does not mean “warrior.” This change leaves open the possibility for saying that women were included in David’s “mighty warriors,” his “special forces” unit which are referred to elsewhere as his “thirty mighty men” and also his “three mighty men.” (2 Sam. 23 and 1 Chron. 11) These are no longer men but ambiguous warriors. This change, made 20 other times as well, is consistent with the NIV’s tendency to change male-oriented words used in the original text.
3. Changes “he” and “him” to “they,” “them,” or “that person.”
John 14:23 (NIV 1984)– “Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.””
John 14:23 (NIV 2011)– “Jesus replied: “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and will we come to them and make our home with them.””
These changes from singular to plural remove the significant emphasis on the personal indwelling of the Father and Son in an individual. The “if” Jesus said is also removed and the 3 masculine singular pronouns are replaced with plural pronouns which are not in the original text. Jesus specifically chose to use a male pronoun but the CBT chose to correct Jesus’ words because they weren’t gender-neutral enough, rendering them objectionable.
This NIV 2011 rendering also confuses the reader and makes you ask the question: “Is God going to love and make His home with a group or an individual?” “Does a group have to obey or does an individual?”
How can the reader know what was actually said since the translators are making subtle changes to shift the meaning of the text? Preachers and teachers can no longer rely on the NIV for teaching because they will always have to consult other translations or the biblical languages every time to figure out what was actually said; they’ll have to tell their audiences to do the same or go through a confusing speech about how the NIV’s translation isn’t actually correct.
Why Words Matter:
Since most Christians do not have access to or the knowledge of Biblical Hebrew or Koine Greek, they put their trust in the translator’s hands to correctly translate the original text for them so they can correctly read God’s Word. The CBT has decided to purposefully change exactly what God’s Word says so that it is more politically correct in our culture. This leads to readers not knowing which words they can trust, and most cannot check to see what the Hebrew or Greek says. This leaves them even more confused when reading Scripture. Some of the changes even make verses (such as Rom. 4:8) sound awkward and grammatically incorrect. Other verses now sound cold and impersonal with the use of “that person” (Rev. 3:20) instead of using the personal and intimate “him.”
God would never want us to change His perfect, holy words to fit our own agendas or personal preferences. He even warns us against this (Rev. 22:18-19)!
When you replace God’s Words with your own preferred words, they are no longer inspired by God, but instead become the thoughts of men.
Many of the pronouns “he/him/his” are used for general truths, applicable for both men and women, which the Committee has sought to make evident in their translation. However, they have confused application with translation, leading their readers to not know what the Bible actually says. They have jumped too quickly to application which is the job of the individual reader, not the job of the translator.
This isn’t a fight to keep masculine pronouns because we prefer masculinity over femininity; it’s a fight against any changes to Scripture. Those subtle changes change our theology, our interpretations, our personal intimacy with God, and, inevitably, the Gospel message! God is no longer revealed as He chose to reveal Himself. His wisdom and unique relationship with His children is now lost in man’s “corrections.” If God had wanted the Bible to be gender-neutral, He would have made it that way. This isn’t a battle of the sexes, but a stand for the Gospel and what we believe are God’s very words, because His Words matter!
Because of these changes made to God’s Word, we, Unlocking Femininity, cannot recommend the NIV 2011. There are, however, several accurate translations such as the ESV, NASB, HCSB (Holman) and even the New KJV. These are very readable and great options for all readers wanting to dig into the Bible!
For more in-depth evaluations and data on the NIV 2011, please visit the following links.