Dr. Craig Blomberg has recently rotated on to the NIV/TNIV Committee on Bible Translation. At a blog hosted by Zondervan Academic, Blomberg comments on the TNIV and its place among other English translations of the Bible. His remarks deserve a response, so I will give a brief one here. He writes:
‘What about the big debate over gender-inclusive language for humanity at its peak in the late 1990s? After over a decade since the NIVI Britain’s first stab at an evangelical, inclusive language translation) was produced, I am convinced more than ever that it is the right way to go. I barely ever hear anyone any more in public speech (which is what the Bible was originally written for) even hesitate over sentences like, “Everyone who want to pass the test tomorrow should study their notes intensely,” which is the most common kind of change the TNIV introduced. . . the vast majority of us can soon recognize the TNIV for what it deserves to beâ€”the truly standard English-language version for years to come.’
Blomberg’s point about English usage is correct, but it is also beside the point as far as the inclusive language debate goes. “Their” instead of “his” in the previous instance is not all that controversial, and there would not have been a debate about gender-inclusive translations if that was all there was to it. But that’s not all there was to it.
Gender-inclusive changes in English usage over the past 50 years have been the result of feminist propaganda, not the result of natural changes in usage. Generic masculines have dropped off in usage not because they are incomprehensible to native English speakers, but because of an artificial, ideological agenda to remove all vestiges of patriarchy from language.
I don’t believe that Blomberg and the other members of the Committee on Bible Translation are rabid feminist ideologues. That’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m just observing that the gender-inclusive impulse originates with feminist ideology, not with the gradual changes in usage that every language undergoes.
The problem with the gender-inclusive impulse is that its criteria can be at odds with accuracy in translation in some situations. With respect to the TNIV, Wayne Grudem has compiled a list of texts in which the TNIV actually does obscure the meaning of the author in an effort to be gender inclusive. Take a look at these examples for yourself, and see if he is not on to something.
I know many will disagree. But if Grudem’s list does anything, it shows that the TNIV has a long way to go before becoming the “standard” English translation. For now, I’m hoping that Blomberg is wrong about the TNIV’s pride of place among English translations. Whatever its strengths may be, it simply does not deserve that distinction.