Modern Bible being issued in gender-neutral version
GENDER-NEUTRAL WORDING America's best-selling modern Bible is about to receive an update using gender-neutral wording. The revision will be called "Today's New International Version," or TNIV. Examples of some changes are: sons of God'' to children of God'' in Matthew 5:9, and a man is justified by faith'' to a person is justified by faith'' in Romans 3:28. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Ida Brown/religion editor
Feb. 2, 2002
The International Bible Society plans to update America's best-selling modern Bible using gender-neutral wording, despite past criticism of the idea from conservatives.
The revision will be called "Today's New International Version," or TNIV. The original New International Version (NIV), which has sold more than 150 million copies worldwide since 1978, will remain on the market. The New Testament of the latest version will debut in April, with the full Bible including Old Testament books expected by 2005.
Both versions, the work of evangelical translators, are especially popular in the conservative, Protestant heart of America's competitive Bible market. However, reviews are mixed among some evangelicals, religious leaders and individuals. Their concerns are not about gender usage, but "messing with the word" of God.
The Rev. Odell Hopkins of West Mt. Miriah Baptist Church agrees.
However, if the translation is not lost, some religious leaders see no harm in gender-neutral wording.
Noting gender-neutral wording is simply a matter of choice, Burkhart said the important thing is the message.
The Rev. Philip C. Wottrich of Trinity Lutheran Church said the changes are harmless as long as terms referring to God and Jesus Christ have not been altered.
Burkhart noted that gender-neutral wording is not new in religious society.
The older version's gender usage became hotly disputed in 1997 when World magazine, a conservative weekly, reported that the Bible society was working on an inclusive-language revision. The society had already published such an edition with a British publisher.
Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest U.S. Protestant denomination, criticized the language change, as did James Dobson of the influential Focus on the Family'' radio broadcast.
After meeting with critics, the Bible society said it would halt publication of Britain's inclusive edition and had abandoned all plans for gender-related changes in future editions of the New International Version.''
The Bible society, based in Colorado Springs, Colo., isn't quite abandoning its pledge because the latest version won't replace the New International Version'' it will just be sold alongside the older translation.
Examples of some changes from 1978 to 2002: sons of God'' to children of God'' in Matthew 5:9, and a man is justified by faith'' to a person is justified by faith'' in Romans 3:28.
A news release says the TNIV is not merely a gender-accurate edition of the NIV,'' because 70 percent of the changes do not relate to gender. Also, terms referring to God and Jesus Christ have not been altered.
Like the 1978 Bible, the new version is aimed at Protestants, and will not appear in an edition with the extra biblical books recognized by Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.