Published November 24, 2005
In June of 2002, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution condemning the T.N.I.V. (Today's New International Version) of the Bible because it "alters the meaning of hundreds of verses most significantly by erasing gender-specific details which appear in the original language changing masculine third person singular pronouns (he and him) to plural gender neutral pronouns (they and them)." This was quoted from the Southern Baptist Convention resolution.
Then, Lifeway Christian Resources came out with the Holman Christian Study Bible and started putting this version in our Sunday school quarterlies. If you will look at Luke 3:15, the same thing is done in the HSCB as is done in the TNIV with men changed to 'them' in the HSCB and to 'their' in the TNIV. The same thing is done in Luke 2:14, 5:10, 8:8, 8:16, 9:21, 9:23, 9:57, 9:62, 10:4, 11:10, 12:15, 12:21, and 13:14. The same thing is done all through the HCSB, as well as the TNIV.
So, the SBC is condemning the TNIV while promoting the HCSB when they both do the same thing.
At this year's SBC, I received a brochure put out by Lifeway promoting the HCSB and stating "The translators have not changed 'him' to 'you' or to 'them', neither have they avoided other masculine words such as 'father' or 'son' by translating them into generic terms such as 'parent' or 'child.'"
If this is not a lie, it stretches the truth a lot. I have been Southern Baptist all my life, but this makes me wonder if I can remain loyal to leaders who are doing these kinds of things.
Someone please explain all this to me, so I can have continual faith in our SBC and LifeWay leaders.
Response from LifeWay: We appreciate the opportunity to address Mr. Hobbs' concerns about the Holman Christian Standard Bible. The Holman CSB was translated in agreement with and in conformity to the 1997 "Colorado Springs Guidelines for Translation of Gender-related Language in Scripture." Each of the translation issues raised by Mr. Hobbs is dealt with there. For example: Luke 3:15 (HCSB, "all of them were debating in their minds") is an example of the many places where the older English translations seem to be more "male" than the Greek text they were translating.
The word "men" at that time was more commonly understood as generic than it is today. The King James, American Standard, and Revised Standard translations all render the Greek word "pas" here (and many times elsewhere) as "all men," when the word simply means "all." Even the New King James as well as the New American Standard eliminated the word "men" in this verse since there is no Greek word for "men" in the Greek text here. Even the KJV of Luke 11:10 translates "pas" followed by the participle as "everyone that asketh" rather than "every man that asketh." Similarly, "no man" in the KJV and ASV of Luke 8:16, 9:62, and 10:4 renders the Greek word "oudeis," which simply means "no one."
These verses contain no word for "man" in the Greek text. Related to this is the older rendering of the Greek word tis, "anyone," as "any man" or "a certain man" in verses such as Luke 9:23, 57; 12:15. The Greek word for "man" is not there.
Luke 2:14 (HCSB, "peace on earth to people He favors") is an example of many places where the older English translations render the plural of the Greek word anthropos as "men" even in passages where women also are in view.
The King James of Romans 2:16, for example, has "God shall judge the secrets of men" although the context makes clear that Paul had women in view as well as men. Greek has another word for "man," "aner," that more particularly refers to males.
The word "anthropos," "on the other hand, often simply means "human being," as Greek lexicons affirm. This explanation also applies to Luke 5:10.
Luke 8:8 (KJV, "He that hath ears to hear") is another example of a common practice in older translations of introducing a male reference when there is none in the Greek text. The Greek article plus participle here is literally "the one having ears to hear."
There is no "he" in the Greek text (same with Luke 9:21, 11:10, and 12:21). Finally, the KJV of Luke 13:14 has "in which men ought to work," whereas the Greek text is literally "on which it is necessary to work." Again, there is no word for "men" in the text.
All these issues, and many more, are thoroughly dealt with in the B&H book The TNIV and the Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy by Vern Poythress and Wayne Grudem (2nd edition, 2004).
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