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The HCSB is now the CSB. What’s the difference?

 

In 2003, Holman Bible Publishers, which is owned by Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, released a completely new translation of the Bible, called the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), which was used in all of LifeWay’s literature, including its Sunday school curriculum. The HCSB was nearly as readable as the popular New International Version (NIV), yet closer to the New American Standard Bible in accuracy. When Zondervan revised the NIV in 2011, making it more accurate in some ways but gender neutral in reference to mankind, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention publicly condemned the revision, and some pastors who were using the NIV, myself included, switched to the HCSB. Now the HCSB is no more.

In 2017, Holman released a radical revision of the HCSB, under the new name, the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). It is now the translation used in LifeWay literature instead of the HCSB. So what’s the difference? Basically, the CSB has become very similar to the English Standard Version (ESV), except that it is almost as gender-neutral as the NIV.

1. The CSB is more gender neutral.

Interestingly, the CSB follows the gender neutral trend of the NIV far more than the HCSB did. Even the HCSB had begun to use “people” instead of “men” in places where the text clearly refers to people in general, like Matthew 4:19 where it refers to Jesus teaching His disciples to “fish for men.” But the CSB goes much further. In Proverbs 27:17, the CSB says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.” (The HCSB has “men.”) One may argue that the context implies all people there, although men’s groups have often equated it to masculinity. A more significant change is the constant reference to the believers in the church in the New Testament letters as “brothers” in the HCSB. The CSB changes this to “brothers and sisters.” So we read in Romans 16:14, “Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brothers and sisters who are with them.” Again, the reasoning for this is that the apostle must have had in mind all members of the congregation, both male and female (although all of the Greek names in Romans 16:14 happen to be male).

To be fair, the CSB avoids the extremes examples of gender neutral language found in the NIV. The NIV goes so far as to translate the Hebrew ab, father, as “parent” in Malachi 4:6, and in Hebrews 12:7 it says “God is treating you as children,” although the Greek word is “sons.” The CSB does not goes this far; in both of these passages, the CSB uses the masculine word, and the CSB is consistent in always referring to God with the masculine pronoun (as is the NIV).

2. The CSB is more traditional.

The HCSB broke translation tradition in several ways, including the frequent, but inconsistent use of the literal “Yahweh” instead of the traditional “LORD” in all capital letters to translate the Hebrew name for God, Yahweh. The HCSB also translated the Greek christos as “Messiah,” since many people did not understand that Christ and Messiah are Greek and Hebrew words for the same title, Anointed One. In contrast, the CSB has returned to more traditional wording. The CSB uses “LORD” in the Old Testament for Yahweh and often uses “Christ,” for christos in the New Testament, although the CSB does use “Messiah” in some places where a declaration of faith is made about Jesus, such as John 11:27: “I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God…”

3. The CSB is more literal.

A good example of how the CSB is more literal than the HCSB would be Psalm 1:1, which the CSB translates literally: “How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway of sinners or sit in the company of mockers.” The HCSB paraphrased the “walk, stand, sit” poetry of Psalm 1:1 this way: “How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers!” (Notice again, however, that the HCSB uses “man,” while the CSB uses the gender neutral “one.”)

4. The CSB no longer capitalizes pronouns referring to God.

A fourth major revision of the CSB is that it dropped the capitalization of pronouns referring to God. The HCSB showed reverence to God by capitalizing all pronouns that referred to God, as does the New American Standard Bible (NASB). The CSB does not (nor does the KJV or ESV). The CSB translators reasoned that it is not always clear in the context if the reference is to God. Thus we see the difference in  John 15:26, a passage which refers to all three persons of the Trinity. This verse is translated by the HCSB: “When the Counselor comes, the One I will send to you from the Father– the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father– He will testify about Me.” But John 15:26 is translated this way in the CSB: “When the Counselor comes, the one I will send to you from the Father– the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father– he will testify about me.”

No translation is perfect, as they are made by imperfect people, and language is constantly changing. I’m sure that the translators of the CSB are pleased with their new translation. Personally, with this radical revision, I see little difference now between the CSB and ESV, except for more gender neutral language in the CSB. For that reason, I hope that the HCSB will still be available for those who want something different. Each person will need to make his (or her) own choice, and never forget that the Author is God, not man (or humanity).

(For more study on changes from the HCSB to CSB, here is a good resource: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1U7uvZHYsCtSpQdKNwrS6zZYSre-MdY7GbDQZzefWs50/pub)

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Book review: Many choices in study Bibles

StudyBiblesCopyright 2014 by Bob Rogers

When it comes to studying the Bible, not only are there many choices of translations, but also many choices of study Bibles. Here is an overview of some that I have found helpful.

There are several general study Bibles that are connected directly to a certain translation of the Bible. If a person cannot afford an entire set of commentaries, or wishes to have commentary on the whole Bible in one volume, these study Bibles are the best option. The NASB Study Bible (also available with the same notes as the NIV Study Bible), the HCSB Study Bible, the ESV Study Bible and the Jeremiah Study Bible (NKJV) are examples of this. Each of these study Bibles have extensive introductions to the books of the Bible, maps, and notes at the bottom of the page to explain the text in the particular translation used. The ESV Study Bible is the most scholarly and exhaustive of these study Bibles. The HCSB Study Bible is in a more popular style, and makes the best use of color, making it the easiest to read. The Jeremiah Study Bible has notes by popular Bible teacher, Dr. David Jeremiah.

Some study Bibles focus on a special purpose. The Archaeological Study Bible (NIV) includes notes and articles that explain the cultural and historical background of the Bible. The Life Essentials Study Bible (HCSB) and Life Application Bible (available in NLT, NIV, NKJV, NASB) focus on applying the truths of scripture to our lifestyle. The Life Essentials Study Bible makes use of QR code. Readers can scan the code with their mobile phone and watch a video of a Bible teacher explaining the passage in greater depth. The Discover God Study Bible (NLT) focuses on devotional and doctrinal truth. This is an excellent study Bible for a new believer. The Apologetics Study Bible (HCSB) includes notes and articles that defend the Christian faith against non-Christian religions and skeptics.

All of these study Bibles are excellent resources in shedding light on God’s word. I refer to many of them on a regular basis, depending on how I am studying a particular passage. But none of these aids can substitute for simply reading the text first yourself. I would recommend you read and read again the text and make your own notes on what you observe before you turn to these or any other study aids. After your own study, check your observations with those of the experts. That way, you will allow the Holy Spirit to speak directly to you through scripture, and to speak to you through those who have studied it before you.

(If you see a video ad below this post, please understand that I have no control over these ads, and that I do not necessarily endorse the product. If you see an inappropriate ad, feel free to contact me at brogers@fbcrincon.com.)

What Bible translation should I use?

bible-translations

Article copyright by Bob Rogers, Th.D.
English-speaking readers of the Bible have so many different versions to choose from, that it can be hard to know which one to use. As a pastor who has studied nearly every translation over the 34 years of my ministry, many people ask me which translation they should use. Thus I have written this article to give you some guidance.

Please note that I am referring to translations and paraphrases. I am not referring to various kinds of study Bibles and specialty Bibles. For example, you can get the Scofield Reference Bible or the Life Application Bible, etc. in multiple different translations. And there are children’s and youth Bibles, military Bibles, athlete Bibles, etc. with different covers and notes and devotional comments. None of that is discussed here. I am strictly talking about the text of the Bible itself.

The Old Testament was written in Hebrew (and some Aramaic), and the New Testament was written in Greek. The biggest issue for translations is: How literally should we translate it into English? If a translation follows the exact word order and literal idioms of the original language, the result may be technically accurate, but it may be difficult to understand. On the other hand, if a translation or paraphrase strives to put it in modern English, the result may be easy to read, but inaccurate and lacking the precise teaching of God’s Word. As they balance between these two extremes, Bible versions tend to fall into four different categories: literal, dynamic, free and paraphrased.

Literal translations strive as much as possible to follow the original text word for word. This is not entirely possible, because certain words require more than one word in English to translate, and sometimes English words need to be added that are not in the original language for the sentence to make sense in our language. Also, word order can have different meanings in different languages. So no translation is completely literal, but the ones that I list as “literal” try their best to faithfully follow the original, sometimes at the sacrifice of being clear to modern readers.

Here are the best-know literal translations: King James Version (KJV), New King James Version (NKJV), Revised Standard Version (RSV), New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), English Standard Version (ESV), Douay Rheims (DR), and the New American Bible (NAB).

The King James Version was first translated in 1611, and the current edition of the KJV was updated in 1769. While the KJV is a literary masterpiece, its archaic language can be difficult to read and can be misunderstood by modern readers. Nevertheless, its familiar words are still preferred by millions of Christians who were brought up with the KJV. The New King James Version preserved most of the traditional wording of the KJV, while making it more readable and more accurate. However, because the NKJV follows the same manuscripts as the KJV as much as possible, it unfortunately does not use some of the more accurate manuscripts available today to translators.

The Revised Standard Version is an accurate, literal translation, but it tends toward a more liberal viewpoint on certain translation issues. This approach is preferred by its sponsors, the National Council of Churches. The New Revised Standard Version updated the RSV and made it gender-neutral when referring to people, much as the NIV did recently (see below). Thus the NRSV is the preferred translation today in liturgical and liberal Protestant churches.

The New American Standard Bible and English Standard Version are the most accurate literal translations and the most popular among evangelical, conservative Bible scholars. The NASB, a revision of the American Standard Version of 1901, is considered the most accurate for serious study, and the ESV is considered the most literary and readable among literal translations. The ESV tends to be popular among Reformed churches.

Douay Rheims is the traditional Roman Catholic translation published in 1582 and 1610, heavily dependent on the old Catholic Latin Vulgate. It includes the Apocrypha, additional Old Testament books used by Catholics. In recent years, this translation was revised and published for Roman Catholics as the New American Bible, and in 2011 the New American Bible Revised Edition was published. This translation uses gender-neutral language.

Dynamic translations also seek to follow the original text as accurately as possible, but they are more willing to revise word order and phrases and use more contemporary words to translate the original more clearly. The best-known dynamic translations are: New International Version (NIV), Amplified Bible (AB), Christian Standard Bible (CSB), Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), Jerusalem Bible (JB), the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) and God’s Word Translation (GWT).

The New International Version of 1984 became the bestselling Bible translation in English. It was the first translation since 1611 to outsell the King James Version. However, in 2011 the NIV underwent a major revision, which made it more accurate in many places, but also changed thousands of male-focused words to gender-neutral words, a controversial change that makes it less accurate to the original language. (The gender-neutral language is only in reference to people, such as changing “brothers” to “brothers and sisters,” “the man who” to “the people who” or changing “fathers” to “parents.” It retains male pronouns when referring to God.)

The Amplified Bible is a unique translation that consistently lists alternate translations in parentheses, making it a useful study Bible. However, this feature makes it an awkward Bible for reading.

The Christian Standard Bible (CSB), published in 2017, is a major revision of the Holman Christian Standard Bible. It is one of the most accurate of the dynamic translations.  It eliminated some of the unique and quirky characteristics of the older HCSB, following more traditional renderings of the text. It is more accurate than the NIV, and while having some gender-neutral translations such as “brothers and sisters” for the “brothers” Paul addresses in his letters, it does not go as far with gender-neutral translation as the NIV, continuing to refer to “fathers” rather than “parents.” The CSB was translated by conservative scholars and its copyright is owned by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Jerusalem Bible is a dynamic and literary translation for Roman Catholics that includes the Apocrypha. It was based on a French translation. The Jerusalem Bible was later revised as the New Jerusalem Bible, which includes gender-neutral language.

God’s Word Translation is perhaps the most readable among the dynamic translations. It uses gender-neutral language, and tends to use shorter sentences and words like “kindness” instead of theological words like “grace.” It was hard to decide whether to list GWT as a dynamic or a free translation, but since it tries to follow more closely the original text than other free translations, I will list it here.

Free translations seek to translate thought for thought more than word for word. Free translations use very contemporary language, shorter sentences, and they freely add phrases that are not in the text in order to communicate the idea to our culture and language. These translations are very easy to read, but are less accurate for serious study. All of these translations use gender-neutral language to some degree. Some of the best-known free translations are: New Living Translation (NLT), Good News Bible (GNB), New Century Version (NCV), Common English Bible (CEB), Contemporary English Version (CEV) and New International Reader’s Version (NIrV). Some of free translations target a child’s reading level by using very short sentences, especially the CEV and NIrV. The Common English Bible tends to follow a more liberal viewpoint in translation, and is thus more popular among liberal Protestant churches.

Among free translations, the New Living Translation is one of the more accurate, and has become the most popular.

Paraphrases radically alter the original text, putting the emphasis on communicating the thoughts and ideas in very contemporary language. Two of the best-known paraphrases are: The Living Bible (TLB) and The Message (TM). The Living Bible, paraphrased by Ken Taylor, sold millions of copies a generation ago, and at one time was nearly as popular as the KJV, yet it was strongly opposed by those who preferred literal translations. The publishers of the Living Bible responded to this criticism with the New Living Translation.

The Message is a vivid, newer paraphrase written by Presbyterian pastor and Bible scholar Eugene H. Peterson. It tends to capture the emotion of scripture. The Message is more literary and sophisticated than the Living Bible. The Message has been very popular in the past decade.

The Voice Bible was first published in 2012. The Voice is a translation that is amplified with paraphrase. That is, the text has a fairly accurate translation, but then it inserts additional words into the text in italics for clarity and explanation. It emphasizes the hearing the word (thus the name The Voice), and is written in a literary style. It is displayed in screenplay format, to highlight spoken words.

Paraphrases can be useful in getting new insights into scripture, but they should not be used for serious Bible study. Even Eugene Peterson himself says that his paraphrase is intended to make Bible reading fresh, but it is not intended to be read in church or Bible studies as if it was the Word of God.

There are other paraphrases that are interesting novelties, such as the Cotton Patch Version written by Clarence Jordan, which sets the events of the New Testament in Georgia; the Clear Word Bible written by Seventh-day Adventist Jack Blanco for devotionals; and The Word on the Street written in urban lingo by Rob Lacey.

CAUTION: There is one other widely distributed “translation” that I should mention. The New World Translation is distributed by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, which is the publishing arm of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Beware of this perversion of the Bible that twists scripture to deny the divinity of Jesus Christ.

So we have come full circle back to the original question of this article: What Bible translation should I use? The answer: compare several of them! For serious study, it is wise to refer to a literal translation. I myself prefer the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and English Standard Version (ESV) for this purpose. For daily Bible reading, a dynamic or free translation may be useful to get a clear understanding of the meaning. For daily reading, I prefer the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) and New Living Translation (NLT), and I still like to read my old Holman Christian Standard (HCSB) and refer to my old 1984 edition of the New International Version (NIV84), which are both no longer in print. Occasionally, I also like to read The Message to get a feel for the passion of scripture, especially the Psalms. And I still quote familiar passages like Psalm 23 from the King James Version.

My prayer for you, as you read this guide, is not that you will choose a translation that makes you feel good, but that you will choose a translation that best helps you understand and obey God’s Word. To God be the glory!

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If you see a video ad below this past, please understand that I have no control over these ads, and that I do not necessarily endorse the product. If you see an ad that is inappropriate, feel free to contact me, Bob Rogers, at bobrogersthd@gmail.com.

Why I am changing Bible translations

(UPDATE: In 2017, the HCSB, reviewed below, underwent a radical revision and name change to CSB. Read my review of that revision here: https://bobrogers.me/2017/05/21/the-hcsb-is-now-the-csb-whats-the-difference/.)

The New International Version (NIV) of the Bible was published in 1979, the same year that I became pastor of my first church. Immediately, I liked how it was easy to read, yet more accurate than other popular, easy-to-read Bibles of the time, like The Living Bible and the Good News Bible. The NIV went through a minor revision in 1984, and I have been preaching primarily from the NIV ever since then, although I often quote other translations. However, beginning in the summer of 2012, I will change to the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). Why the change, after all these years? The answer is simple: I’m changing, because the NIV changed.

In 2011, the NIV went through a major revision, and the 1984 edition will no longer be sold in stores. The 1984 edition is not even available in digital form any longer for e-books like Kindle or Bible apps like YouVersion for your smartphone. If you buy a new NIV Bible or download the NIV, it will be the 2011 edition. The revision is more accurate in many places, correcting some translation errors of the old edition. However, the 2011 revision also chose to use gender-neutral language when referring to people, following the model of the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), a translation that is owned by the liberal National Council of Churches. In some cases, the gender-neutral language is justified, as when the word “man” refers to all of humanity or when Paul addresses the “brothers” but clearly means all believers, “brothers and sisters.” But the 2011 revision of the NIV goes much farther than this, consistently using gender-neutral language even when the context does not necessarily call for it.

I spent about a year carefully studying the 2011 revision, and although I liked some of the improvements in accuracy, the extremes of gender-neutral language outweighed the other improvements. Thus, I began to prayerfully look for another translation to use in my preaching.

There were two main options I considered, because both are accurate translations, readable, and they avoid gender-neutral language unless the context clearly calls for it: the English Standard Version (ESV) and the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). The ESV is a great translation. It is a conservative response to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). The NRSV uses gender-neutral language, while the ESV does not. The ESV is very close to the New American Standard Bible (NASB) in accuracy, and it flows better than the NASB.

However, I chose the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) over the ESV, because the HCSB uses more contemporary language than the ESV. For example, while the ESV uses “behold,” the HCSB says “look!” and while the ESV says “made manifest” the HCSB says “made evident.” The HCSB is as readable as the NIV, while it is more accurate than the NIV. The HCSB translates the name of Yahweh in the Old Testament in places where the context implies God’s name (rather than the all capital “LORD” used in other translations). It translates “Christ” as “Messiah” in the New Testament when the context is referring to Jesus’ title as Messiah. It shows respect for deity by capitalizing pronouns when referring to God. That is why I have been using the HCSB in Wednesday night prayer meeting for several years, and beginning in the summer of 2012, the HCSB will become my primary Bible when preaching on Sundays.

Am I saying that I expect my congregation to go out and buy a Holman Christian Standard Bible? No, I am not. This decision is for my own preaching, as I feel a responsibility to preach from a Bible that best communicates God’s Word with clarity and faithfulness to the original languages. Everybody is welcome to bring to our church whatever translation of the Bible you prefer. If you want to continue using your NIV Bible or other favorite translation, you are welcome to do so. It is useful to compare various Bible translations, and although I will primarily preach from the HCSB, I will continue to quote other translations of the Bible in my sermons whenever it sheds light on the meaning of God’s Word.

If you wish to sample the HCSB, you can download it for free on the Kindle at amazon.com and the Nook at BarnesandNoble.com, and the application “You Version” has the HCSB available for free on smart phones and iPads, available at http://www.youversion.com. The website http://www.mystudybible.com is a free website using the text of the HCSB, including excellent Bible study notes in the margin. The HCSB translation is used in Sunday School literature printed by LifeWay. Our church will also place HCSB pew Bibles in the worship center for the convenience of those who wish to follow the same translation as the pastor.

Here are some sample comparisons of the 1984 NIV, 2011 NIV, and the HCSB.

Genesis 4:26 (The context refers to all people.)

1984 NIV: “At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD.”

2011 NIV: “At that time people began to call on the name of the LORD.”

HCSB: “At that time people began to call on the name of Yahweh.”

Esther 3:6 (The context is explaining why Haman wanted to kill all the Jewish people.)

1984 NIV: “Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai.”

2011 NIV: “Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai.”

HCSB: “And when he learned of Mordecai’s ethnic identity, Haman decided not to do away with Mordecai alone.”

Psalm 1:1 (It is debatable whether the context refers to people in general.)

1984 NIV: “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.”

2011 NIV: “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked.”

HCSB: “How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked.”

Psalm 23:4 (“valley of the shadow of death” was a Hebrew idiom for a dark valley)

1984 NIV: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

2011 NIV: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

HCSB: “Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.”

Psalm 90:2

1984 NIV “… from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”

2011 NIV “… from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”

HCSB: “… from eternity to eternity, You are God.”

Proverbs 27:17 (It is debatable whether the context refers to people in general.)

1984 NIV: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

2011 NIV: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

HCSB: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

Malachi 4:6 (The Hebrew word here is “fathers.”)

1984 NIV: “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children…”
2011 NIV: “He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children…”

HCSB: “And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children…”

Matthew 5:19 (The context refers to all people.)

1984 NIV: “’Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’”

2011 NIV: “’Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’”

HCSB: “Follow Me,’ He told them, ‘and I will make you fish for people!’”

John 11:27

1984 NIV: “’Yes, Lord,’ she told him, ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.’”

2011 NIV: “’Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’”

HCSB: “’Yes, Lord,’ she told Him, ‘I believe that You are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world.’”

Romans 16:1

1984 NIV: “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea.”

2011 NIV: “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae.”

HCSB: “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church in Cenchreae.”

Romans 16:14 (All of the names listed are male names in Greek.)

1984 NIV: “Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brothers with them.”

2011 NIV: “Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them.”

HCSB: “Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them.”

Ephesians 5:18

1984 NIV: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”

2011 NIV: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”

HCSB: “And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit.”

Hebrews 12:7 (After Hebrews 12:5 comments that Proverbs 3:11-12 addresses us as “sons” when referring to God’s discipline.)

1984 NIV: “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.”

2011 NIV: “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children.”

HCSB: “Endure suffering as discipline; God is dealing with you as sons.”

I John 3:16 (The context is referring to all Christians.)

1984 NIV: “… And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”

2011 NIV: “… And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

HCSB: “We should also lay down our lives for our brothers.”

NOTE: If you see a video ad below this post, please be aware that I have no control over which ads appear here, and I do not necessarily endorse the product.

2011 revision of NIV Bible both pleasing and disappointing

In March 2011, the copyright owners of the most popular modern translation of the Bible in English, the New International Version (NIV), published the first revision of the NIV since 1984.
As a pastor who did not like the over-reaching political correctness of the Today’s New International Version (TNIV, copyright 2002), I was concerned when I heard that the NIV itself was going to be revised. But after studying the digital early release version in numerous passages, I have been pleased that it is more accurate, but disappointed that while the use of gender-neutral language does not go as far as the TNIV, it still goes too far.
The new NIV retains 95% of the words of the 1984 edition, but where there are changes, it communicates the original meaning better to modern readers and more accurately than before.
Let me address several issues: gender-neutral language, omission of words, and accuracy of translation.

Gender-neutral language
First, the most controversial issue of the TNIV (the earlier failed attempt to revise the NIV) was its gender-neutral language. The Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution in June 2011 saying they “cannot commend” the 2011 NIV. Why is that? The 2011 NIV does not go as far as the TNIV. In Hebrews 12, where scripture speaks of God disciplining us like a father, the TNIV changed “father” to “parent.” This implied that God was a gender-neutral “parent” rather than our “heavenly Father.” I’m glad to report that the new NIV has “father,” just as the 1984 edition had. However, the new NIV, like the TNIV, does use gender-neutral “brothers and sisters” when the context clearly means all believers. Since modern English speakers use both genders, “brothers and sisters,” when addressing all believers, not just the masculine “brothers,” it makes sense that the Bible they are reading do the same. However, this may not be acceptable to all readers, particularly in passages like Psalm 1, where the masculine pronoun is often associated with a reference to manhood. In the 1984 NIV, Psalm 1 says, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked… He is like a tree planted by streams of water…” but the 2011 NIV renders it, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked…That person is like a tree planted by steams of water…”
The 2011 NIV changes “fathers” to “parents” in Malachi 4:6, although the Hebrew word is ab, fathers. Also, Ezekiel 22:30, the famous “stand in the gap” passage used by Promise Keepers to challenge men, has been changed from “man” to “someone.” A favorite verse of the men’s group, Promise Keepers, was Proverbs 27:17, because it said that as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. However, the 2011 NIV changes “man” to “person.” These kind of changes can be found hundreds of times throughout the Old and New Testaments in the 2011 NIV.
However, the 2011 NIV continues to say “sons” in Romans 8:14 and “sonship” in Romans 8:15 in a discussion of spiritual adoption which refers to the male heir. Thus it does not use gender-neutral language in places where it would impact theology, but it does use gender-neutral language in some places that have traditionally been interpreted as references to manhood. The revised NIV also continues to maintain clear sexual distinctions between the genders in passages like Genesis 1:27, which reads, “So God created mankind in his own image…male and female he created them.”

Omission of words
The second translation issue is the omission of words. One of the biggest criticisms of the 1984 NIV was that sometimes words in the Greek text simply were not translated. The most notorious example was the Gospel of Mark, which makes frequent use of the Greek word euthus, “immediately.” For some reason, there were many verses in the 1984 NIV that simply ignored this word. But the 2011 NIV is careful to translate it as “immediately” or “as soon” etc. in every place where it is used. I have been doing a verse-by-verse study of Romans in the Greek, and comparing the old and new versions of the NIV, I found that where the old NIV omitted the word “or” at the beginning of Romans 3:29, the new NIV restored the word. And in Romans 4:1, the old NIV omitted the words “according to the flesh,” but the new NIV put the phrase back in.

Accuracy of translation
The third translation issue is the accuracy of translation. In an attempt to be easy to read, the NIV has been less precise in translating words and phrases. It’s a difficult balance for any translation, but sometimes the 1984 NIV paraphrased the text in places that caused the reader to miss the technical point that the Biblical writer was making. For example, the 1984 NIV translates Romans 3:28, “observing the law.” But the 2011 NIV translates it, “works of the law.” The Greek phrase is literally, “works of the law.”
In Romans chapter 8, Paul uses the word “flesh” as a metaphor for the sinful nature. The 1984 NIV translates it “sinful nature,” which gets the idea across, but thereby obscures the deliberate play on words in Romans 8:3 when Paul says that when we were weakened by the flesh, God sent Jesus in the flesh. The 1984 NIV has “sinful nature” in these verses, but the 2011 NIV uses the literal word “flesh.”
In Romans 8:4, the 1984 NIV says that Jesus’ sacrifice satisfied the “righteous requirements” of the law. However, the Greek word translated “requirements” is singular. The 2011 NIV changes it to the singular “requirement.” This might seem a minor distinction, but theologically the singular implies that God covers the entirety of our sin, not just some sins.
In Romans 10:4, the 1984 NIV reads, “Christ is the end of the law…” The Greek word translated “end” is telos, which means completion. Paul does not mean the law will stop, but that it will be fulfilled. Thus the 2011 NIV reads,”Christ is the culmination of the law…”
Another example is Galatians 5:22, where the 1984 NIV lists “patience” among the fruit of the Spirit. The problem is, that there are two Greek words for patience: one word means patience with circumstances, and one word means patience with people. The word used in Galatians 5:22 means patience with people, so the 2011 NIV translates it “forbearance.”
The 2011 NIV has improved the accuracy of many passages in the Old Testament, as well. Psalm 93:1 reads in the 1984 NIV, “The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.” This is similar to the KJV, which was misinterpreted centuries ago to mean the universe revolved around the earth. But the Hebrew word means stability, and so the 2011 NIV translates it, “The world is established; firm and secure.” Psalm 107 gives four stories of people who have reason to thank the Lord. Thus Psalm 107:2 reads in the 2011 NIV, “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story,” which is an improvement of the 1984 “Let the redeemed of the Lord say this.”

Summary
Different readers will have different opinions about the appropriateness of gender-neutral language in the revised NIV. Some will like it, and others will not. Personally, I can understand the change to “brothers and sisters” or “mankind” when the context clearly refers to all people, but when the context is not clearly gender-neutral, the translation should not be gender-neutral. It is unfortunate that this issue may cloud the discussion of this revision, which is otherwise more accurate than before. People who love the NIV and do not object to gender-neutral language should embrace this revision with even more confidence in its accuracy, and people who object to the gender-neutral language will prefer translations such as the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) or English Standard Version (ESV).