The Translation of Gender Terminology in the NIV 2011 -- By: Denny Burk

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 16:1 (Spring 2011)
Article: The Translation of Gender Terminology in the NIV 2011
Author: Denny Burk

The Translation of Gender Terminology
in the NIV 2011

Denny Burk

Associate Professor of Biblical Studies
Boyce College

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

With researchers Ben Montoya, Mitch Chase,
Daniel Diffey, Adam Howell, Nick Moore,
Jason Motte, and Josh Philpot


My dad led me to Christ when I was nine years old. Almost immediately after my profession of faith and baptism, a desire welled-up within me that I had never experienced before. I wanted to read and understand the Bible for myself. I had been taught that it was God’s Word to me, and I knew that growth in Christ depended on my knowledge of it. So I picked up my blue hardback King James Version—the standard-issue text used by children for “Bible Drill” in Southern Baptist churches—and I began reading. Not knowing any better, I just started at the beginning, Gen 1:1. It did not take very long for my little nine-year old brain to bog-down in the archaic English of the 1611 King James Version. As a result, I eventually gave up on being able to read the Bible for myself with any real comprehension. I would continue to use my King James at church, but it was not something I felt comfortable reading on my own.

It would be another 8 years or so before my parents gave me one of the best Christmas gifts of all time—a new Bible. But this was not just any Bible. It was a Life Application Bible, and the translation was the New International Version (NIV). This was just the text that an unlettered adolescent like me needed. This gift changed my life. Yes, the notes, maps, and other study helps were valuable. But the best thing about this Bible was the translation itself. For the first time in my life, I owned a Bible that I could actually read and comprehend, and I devoured it. I began reading the Bible again as for the first time.

By the time I reached my sophomore year in college, I became convinced that I needed to read this book from cover to cover every year. The first time I read the Bible all the way through from Genesis to Revelation, I read from the NIV. I look back on those days of reading the NIV as the most formative period of my spiritual life. I had a hunger for God’s Word, and the NIV was where I found my nourishment.

Even now as I thumb through the pages of that old NIV Bible and read the highlights and notes I added to it so many years ago, I am filled with gratitude for the NIV’s place in my own story. That is in part why I was thrilled several years ago to contribute to a primary study-aid for readers of the NIV, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Tes...

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