Gender Neutral Issues In The New International Version Of 2011 -- By: Vern S. Poythress

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 73:1 (Spring 2011)
Article: Gender Neutral Issues In The New International Version Of 2011
Author: Vern S. Poythress

Gender Neutral Issues In The New International Version Of 2011

Vern S. Poythress

Vern S. Poythress is Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary.

The appearance of a new 2011 edition of the New International Version (NIV) represents a major milestone. It would be appropriate to undertake a major review, but we will focus on only one issue, the issue of gender-neutral language. In brief, the NIV 2011 backs away from some of the inaccuracies produced by gender-neutral language in Today’s New International Version (TNIV 2005), but unfortunately still retains many more.

I. History Of The NIV

The New International Version (NIV) and sister translations have appeared in a number of editions through the years. The NIV New Testament first appeared in 1973. The whole NIV Bible was published for the first time in 1978, and a minor revision appeared in 1984. A new British edition, the New International Version Inclusive Language Edition (NIVI), appeared in 1996. As the descriptive title “Inclusive Language Edition” suggests, this edition widely adopted “gender-neutral” language: it tended to avoid male-marked terms like “father,” “son,” “man,” and generic “he.”1 (The expression generic “he” describes the use of “he/him/his/himself” with a generic antecedent such as “anyone” or “whoever.”) The NIVI retained male-marked terms to refer to God.

On March 29, 1997, news surfaced that scholars were working on a revision of the American edition of the NIV, and that this revision would go gender-neutral.2

A storm of protest ensued, and the International Bible Society (now renamed Biblica) and Zondervan Publishing Company backed away from their plans.3 But in 2002 a new edition of the New Testament appeared, named Today’s New International Version (TNIV). This edition largely retained the gender-neutral usage of the NIVI. An edition of the TNIV that included the whole Bible appeared in 2005.4 The NIV 1984 edition remained in print for those who preferred it.

As of November 1, 2010, the 2011 edition of the New International Version (NIV 2011) has been available online.5 By the time this article is in print, this new edition will be for sale in printed form.

The publicly available translation notes indicate that gender lan...

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