Re: "The Stealth Bible Exposed"

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Jun 23 1997 - 07:33:33 EDT

I have dropped the cc to the Theology list, as it appears to me that
B-Greek and that list have (or SHOULD have) different agendas (I always
feel awkward when pluralizing in English what is already a Latin plural,
but so be it). I'm also disturbed by the tone of the subject-header in
connection with the content, insofar as it appears that a polemic against
"gender-neutral" translations is projected here as a topic for discussion.
This is not a proper forum for the conduct of polemics between groups
holding opposed theological views.

On the other hand, five passages have been offered, and these do raise some
interesting questions.

At 11:22 PM -0400 6/22/97, Paul S. Dixon wrote:
>The June 14/21 issue of World magazine reports the following:
> In a surprise development, the board of the International Bible
>Society announced at 7:00 a.m. on May 27 that it will preserve the
>current New International Version of the Bible and discontinue all plans
>to develop a new, gender-neutral version of the NIV.
>Much thanks to Tim Bayly, John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Vern Poythress, James
>Dobson, Joel Belz, Charlie Jarvis and R.C. Sproul who were instrumental
>in effecting this decision (read article).
>John Piper brought forward at least 5 passages of "serious
>mistranslations." I submit them for your consideration:
> 1. Rev. 3:20 where the NIVI had, "Here I am! I stand at the door
>and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in
>and eat with them, and they with me."
> The "them" and "they" translate respectively AUTON and AUTOS
>(both singular in the Greek).

Is the objection here against translation of the singular pronouns as
plurals or against translation of masculine pronouns as gender-neutral
pronouns. And if the objection is the latter one, is the interpretation of
this passage suggested that Jesus in Rev 3:20 will not come in and eat with

> 2. Num. 8:17a where the NIVI had, "Every firstborn male in
>Israel, whether human or animal, is mine ..." Here "human" renders the
>Hebrew ADAM (contrast NIV "man").

What's the problem here? Isn't ADAM generic for "human" as opposed to ISH
as distinctly masculine? Or is the objection to any avoidance of "man" as a
now gender-ambiguous noun although traditionally generic?

> 3. Acts 1:21-22 where the NIVI had, "Therefore it is necessary
>to choose one of those who have been with us the whole time the Lord
>Jesus went in and out among us..." The phrase "one of those" renders
>ANDRWN ...hENA TOUTWN (contrast NIV, "one of the men").

Well, here I can understand the objection, whether I agree with it or not.

> 4. Jn 11:50 where the NIVI had, " ... it is better for you that
>one person die .." where "one person" renders hEIS ANTHRWPOS (contrast
>NIV, "one man").

I suppose the point here is that hEIS is masculine. Nevertheless ANQRWPOS
is in fact generic rather than gender-specifically masculine. I have seen
more than one instance of hH ANQRWPOS in classical Attic, but I would guess
that the Koine, at least within the NT, retains the masculine gender
regularly even when one may reasonably suppose that the word is

> 5. 1 Cor 15:21 where the NIVI had, "For since death came through
>a human being ..." where "human being" renders ANTHRWPOU (contrast NIV,

I'm puzzled by this objection. Is the objection that one ought to say
clearly that death came through a male (Adam) or through a woman (Eve)?

>I am personally grateful to God for raising up such men as defenders of
>His Word and for the decision made to "discontinue all plans to develop a
>new, gender-neutral version of the NIV."

I hold no brief for the NIV or for the NIVI, but I would prefer that
discussion of the subject of gender-neutral translation, at least on
B-Greek, be conducted with reference to issues of the proper translation of
the Greek rather than along partisan theological lines.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(704) 675-4243

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