WMU News

New gender-neutral Bible creates controversy

April 12, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- A new translation of the Bible that downplays much of its masculine language has drawn criticism from religious conservatives. Called "Today's New International Version" and published by Zondervan, the translation also makes changes that are not really grammatically correct, says Dr. Paul Maier, the Russell H. Seibert Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University.

"There are many cases in which 'Today's New International Version' has very successfully overcome the male gender without doing violence to the text," says Maier, a biblical scholar, translator and author of numerous best-selling works on the origins of Christianity. "But so often in order to accomplish this, they have taken singular subjects and predicates and turned them into plurals. I'm not quite sure that this should be done, especially for documents so very important and what so many Christians regard as God's word."

Maier says an example of the new Bible's grammatically incorrect rendering of gender-neutral text can be found in John 11:25 in which "Today's New International Version" reads: I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die. "This is terrible," Maier says. "This simply cannot stand. I do object to grammatical fractures like that."

Maier adds that translating the Bible has always been a tricky business and translations never completely convey what the original text says. That's why, he points out, nearly all ministerial students study Hebrew and Greek, so they can understand the original text's flavor and context.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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