You Got It Right


Craig Rairdin

When I opened the April, 2002, issue of Pulpit Helps and saw your editorial, "TNIV-a Flawed Solution to a Knotty Problem," I thought, "Here we go again -another ultraconservative publication quoting the same flawed arguments that all seem to flow from one source at the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) instead of actually reading the TNIV and thinking seriously about the problem." But then I finished reading your article and found that you hit the nail on the head. It is not the case that the English language is changing and it is up to Christians to stop it, but rather that the English language has already changed and it's about time we recognized that.

The only place I ever hear "he" and "men" used to refer to "a person" or "all people" is from the pulpit. For example, my church's "motto," which appears on the cover of each week's bulletin, is "The Bible as it is-for men as they are." It's a great thought, but it clearly says to me that the Bible is not applicable to half the people in the room. Sure, it's not the worst insult you can toss at a woman, but these small barbs add up. The church needs to get with the program and find an acceptable solution to the problem of communicating the gospel to the "other half" of the English-speaking people on the planet.

Critics of the TNIV are welcome to their opinion, but need to be careful to appeal not just to emotions but to facts. For example, the issue with John 6:33 ("the bread of God is HE who comes down" vs. "the bread of God is THAT WHICH comes down") is explained very well at the TNIV Web site ( ). The TNIV appears to be on firm ground in this case. While it might serve well to incite the masses with talk of emasculating Jesus, the fact of the matter is that the TNIV reads the way the original audience would have heard it, and the TNIV rendition better explains the crowd's reaction.

The CBMW and World Magazine would have us believe that because the hardcore feminist crowd would approve of the TNIV, then the translators must be hardcore feminists and therefore their work should be dismissed. This is like saying that because I like McDonald's french fries I must have voted for Bill Clinton. There's a giant leap in logic there.

While the Greek text often uses masculine pronouns in a generic way, it certainly is not the case that the New Testament was written only to men. It seems reasonable that scholars who respect the Bible can come up with a usable and accurate translation that redresses this issue without changing the meaning of the text. Personally, having read most of the TNIV New Testament, I think the TNIV is on the right track and with a very small number of changes could be just fine.

Congratulations to Pulpit Helps for calling for a better and balanced approach to solving this problem.

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