Small Changes in Meaning Can Matter: The Unacceptability of the TNIV -- By: Vern Sheridan Poythress

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 10:2 (Fall 2005)
Article: Small Changes in Meaning Can Matter: The Unacceptability of the TNIV
Author: Vern Sheridan Poythress


Small Changes in Meaning Can Matter:
The Unacceptability of the TNIV

Vern Sheridan Poythress

Professor of New Testament Interpretation
Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

On February 2, 2005, I received from Zondervan a free copy of the new TNIV, which includes the TNIV Old Testament. (The TNIV New Testament appeared in February, 2002.) A friendly cover letter asks me to reconsider my earlier criticisms of the TNIV. It alludes to the fact that in 2002 I signed a public statement along with more than 100 other evangelical leaders, judging that “we cannot endorse the TNIV as sufficiently trustworthy to commend to the church.” I am certainly willing to reconsider, and I am grateful for the invitation to do so. However, when I examine the new TNIV, I find that little has changed. Consider the following.

Genesis 1:27

NIV:1 So God created man in his own image,

TNIV: So God created human beings in his own image,

Change in meaning: The change to a plural obscures the unity of the human race.

Psalm 34:20

NIV: He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.

TNIV: He protects all their bones, not one of them will be broken.

Change in meaning: The change to plural obscures the fulfillment of this verse in the crucifixion of Christ, as indicated in John 19:36: “These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled, ‘Not one of his bones will be broken’” (NIV).2

Proverbs 13:1

NIV: A wise son heeds his father’s instruction,

TNIV: A wise child heeds a parent’s instruction,

Change in meaning: A male meaning component in the underlying Hebrew words has been removed by changing “son” to “child” and “father” to “parent.”3 In his article in this issue of JBMW, Wayne Grudem shows that the TNIV changes meanings again and again as it JBMW 10/2 (Fall 2005) 28-34

tries to eliminate male-oriented words like “father,” “son,” “brother,” “man,” and “he/him/his.” Grudem’s article considers not only the verses above, but many others.4 Many of the changes in these verses are the same ones that were already made in an earlier (1996) gender-neutral rendering, the New International Version Inclusive Language Editi...

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