I Want My NIV: Gender Issues, Bible Translations, and the Rise of Evangelical Individualism -- By: Russell D. Moore

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 10:2 (Fall 2005)
Article: I Want My NIV: Gender Issues, Bible Translations, and the Rise of Evangelical Individualism
Author: Russell D. Moore

I Want My NIV: Gender Issues, Bible Translations,
and the Rise of Evangelical Individualism

Russell D. Moore

Dean, School of Theology
Senior Vice President for Academic Administration
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky

A gender-neutral Bible translation would never have flown in my home church. Actually, no Bible translation would have made it long, except one.

I grew up in a KJV-only church. It is not that my congregation defended the King James Version as the only inspired text. Nor did we disparage other translations as deficient. In truth, we did not really know there were other translations. Everyone had always used the old King James, from the five-year olds memorizing verses for “Sword Drills” to senior adult ladies crocheting texts to hang in their living rooms.

There were, of course, many drawbacks to this one common text, drawbacks that explain the need for contemporary translations. But in moving beyond this era, we must admit that we have lost something. A pastor could say “and the glory of the Lord shone round about them” in virtually any context, and the congregation would know exactly to what he was referring. As teenagers, we read and meditated on the same texts our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents had worked through in the generations before.

That era is now long gone, and I do not really want it back. I do not usually preach from the King James Version (although I love it), largely because we now have translations that are more accurate, translating the original words of God into contemporary language that unbelievers and believers can understand. What I do want back, however, is the sense that the Bible forms the church, and, thus, that the Bible belongs to the community—not just to the individual.

My Own Personal Bible

This evangelical individualism explains much of what is going on in the current debates over “gender-neutral” Bible translations such as Today’s New International Version (TNIV) and The New Living Translation (NLT). For too long, we have assumed that the Bible is primarily about individual Bible study and personal devotion. Thus, our publishers give us niche Bibles in every possible variety—Bibles for sportsmen, Bibles for

teens, Bibles for middle-aged women, even Bibles bound in leather, the color of one’s favorite sports team.

It is perhaps not insignificant that many of the more “gender-accurate” Bible translations originated in attempts to produce a children’s Bible version. For generations, evangelicals have sought to mediate the Scripture to children via “s...

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