Changing God’s Word -- By: Wayne Grudem

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 10:2 (Fall 2005)
Article: Changing God’s Word
Author: Wayne Grudem


Changing God’s Word1

Wayne Grudem

Research Professor of Bible and Theology
Phoenix Seminary, Scottsdale, Arizona

Eight years ago I compared fifteen Bible passages in the New International Version (NIV) and the NIV-Inclusive Language Edition (NIVI), which had already been published in England.2 Zondervan and the International Bible Society were quietly making plans to publish a similar gender-neutral NIVI in the United States, but when the Christian public saw the actual changes that had been made to the NIVI in the interests of “inclusive language,” many decided they could not trust such a translation.

Now in 2005 Zondervan and the IBS have published another revision of the NIV called Today’s New International Version (TNIV). Has it corrected the gender-neutral translation policies that were found in the NIVI? Yes, in one of the fifteen passages (Prov 29:13). But in the other fourteen passages it is disappointing to see that nothing has changed (in eleven passages) or that partial corrections were made that did not really solve the problem (in three passages). In spite of a handful of helpful changes, the gender-neutral translation philosophy of the 2005 TNIV is essentially the same as that of the NIVI that caused the controversy of 1997 in the first place. It is the same committee giving us essentially the same Bible.

Genesis 1:26–27

Current NIV: Then God said, “Let us make man in our image.. . .” So God created man in his own image. .. male and female he created them.

TNIV (2005): Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image.. . .” So God created human beings in his own image. .. male and female he created them [identical to NIVI (1996)].

Change in meaning: The change from singular “man” to plural “human beings” obscures the unity of the race as “man” (indicated by the singular Hebrew noun ‘adam). The word “man” in English can mean either “a male human being” or “the human race,” and thus it is the best translation for Hebrew ‘adam, which can also refer either to man in distinc-

tion from woman (Gen 2:22, 25) or to the human race as a whole (as here). The TNIV thus fails to convey as much of the meaning of ‘adam as it could in English today. Why is the male-oriented aspect of the meaning of the Hebrew word removed?

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