Publisher Removed Gender-Inclusive Language From New Bible To Protect Sales


In 2005, Zondervan released an edition of the New International Version of the Bible that included language acknowledging the existence of women. Disgraceful! Evangelicals got mad and condemned the book, so Zondervan’s put the “men” and “mankind” back in.

USA Today reports that the Committee on Bible Translation, which translated the new NIV version, kept some of the gender-inclusive language in the new version, which you can check out here. “But they also made changes—like going back to using words like ‘mankind’ and ‘man’ instead of ‘human beings’ and ‘people’—in order to appease critics.” “Human beings” and “people” are apparently LIBERAL words. Also, using phrases like “brothers and sisters” to replace plain ol’ “brothers” offended Focus on the Family’s founder and permanent Top Poppa James Dobson, who has been filling in for God since the last century. Dodson accused translators of “distorting the word of God”—which he would know all about, after Skyping regularly with God for the past few decades.

But really: are these language complainers kidding? According to the translators’ notes for the new NIV version, the updated Bible is supposed to reflect “God’s unchanging Word in the way the original authors might have said it if they had been speaking in English to the global English-speaking audience today.” And we know that some of the Bible’s authors had serious issues with women (talking to you, Leviticus). But the notes point out that it’s replaced certain words that were popular in the Biblical day, but rarely or never used now, (“overweening,” for example) with more modern terms. So?

Seems like the Committee went to some effort to ensure they could keep at least some of the gender-inclusive language in, though, so let’s cut them some slack for trying. They consulted with an outfit called Collins Dictionaries, which keeps a database called the Bank of English that enables people to study how the use of words has evolved over time. Using info pulled from the database, the translators came up with some guidelines on how and when women could actually enter the picture. However, “none of these principles was applied inflexibly.” Because they had to think of the consumers, who would get mad if too many women turned up in their Bibles.

A whole section of the notes titled “What Was Decided About Inclusive Language?” is dedicated to those angry Bible-buyers’ concerns, which goes to show just how vocal they’ve been. The first line reads, “Nowhere in the updated NIV (nor in the TNIV, nor in any of the committee discussions leading up to either version) is there even the remotest hint of any inclusive language for God.” Well, thank the Lord for that!

So far, none of the 2005 critics have popped up to blast the new and man-proved Bible, says USA Today. The paper does quote one college professor who complains about a line change that gives women jobs he doesn’t think women should have—including the job as pastor. But if James Dobson’s happy, then God’s happy, and that’s really what counts.

New Bible drops gender-neutral language of ’05 version [USA Today]

Bible, New International Version [Bible Gateway]

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin