Looking for a more gender neutral Bible? Try HCSB
March 21 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Looking for a more gender neutral Bible? Try HCSB | Friday, March 22, 2002

Friday, March 22, 2002

Looking for a more gender neutral Bible? Try HCSB

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

Southern Baptist critics of the new Today's New International Version (TNIV) might be surprised to learn that LifeWay's new Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) is also considerably more gender-inclusive than the King James Version (KJV) and the New International Version (NIV).

The HCSB was introduced in the spring of 1999 as a more accurate and readable Bible translation that would preserve the integrity of scripture. In an article distributed by Baptist Press, Kenneth H. Stephens, president of Broadman & Holman (B&H), LifeWay's publishing arm, said, "Up until now, every English translation of the Bible has been a tradeoff between accuracy and readability. The more accurate it was, the harder it was to read, and the more reader-friendly it was, the more it drifted from a precise translation of the original text. With our Bible, we've eliminated the tradeoff."

David R. Shepherd, B&H vice-president for Bible publishing, said the new translation would not follow the path of political correctness. "Some recent translations have reinterpreted the Bible to make it consistent with current trends and their own way of thinking," he said. "Current trends in Bible translation have been a real wake-up call for everybody who's concerned about preserving the integrity of Scripture. The (H)CSB will be under the stewardship of Christians who believe we should conform our lives and culture to the Bible - not the other way around."

This vision did not prevent HCSB translators from adopting a far more gender-neutral approach to language than the KJV and the NIV.

David Stratton, pastor of Brunswick Islands Baptist Church in Supply, had noticed gender-neutral language in the HCSB and became curious when he saw the extensive criticism being leveled at the TNIV. He did some research and chose a sample of seven books in the New Testament (Mark, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, James and Revelation). He read each book in the KJV, the NIV, the TNIV and the HCSB versions. The Old Testament is not yet available for either the HCSB or the TNIV.

Stratton first used the KJV as a baseline to flag gender language, and compared it to the other versions. He then read the same books a second time, using the NIV as the baseline for gender language.

In those seven books, he found 339 verses in which the HCSB is more gender neutral than the KJV and/or the NIV, and 194 verses in which the HCSB is more gender neutral than the NIV alone.

For example, in Mark 4:9, the KJV says, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear," while the NIV has "he who has ears to hear, let him hear." The TNIV renders the phrase as "Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear," and the HCSB reads "Anyone who has ears to hear should listen!"

In Romans 2:16, Paul says God will judge the "secrets of men" (KJV). The NIV translates the phrase as "men's secrets," while the TNIV has "everyone's secrets" and the HCSB has "what people have kept secret."

For the familiar passage in James 5:16, the KJV refers to the "effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man." The NIV also has "righteous man." The TNIV translates as "a righteous person," while the HCSB avoids any gender reference with "the righteous."

In passages dealing with addresses to church leadership, however, the HCSB is more careful to preserve male terminology. For example, in Acts 20:30, where Paul addresses the elders of the church at Ephesus, the KJV says, "Also of your own selves shall men arise," and the NIV renders it "Even from your own number men will arise." The TNIV says "some" will arise, but the HCSB has "men from among yourselves will rise up."

Both the HCSB and the TNIV are careful to retain male pronouns like "he" and "him" that refer to God. However, the HCSB - surprisingly - is more likely than the TNIV to translate masculine participles that refer to God in a gender-neutral manner.

For example, Rev. 1:4 speaks of "him which is, and which was, and which is to come" (KJV). The NIV translates "him who is, and who was, and who is to come," and the TNIV keeps the same reading. The HCSB, however, has "the One who is, who was, and who is coming."

Likewise, in a reference to God in Rom. 9:12, both the NIV and TNIV translate "him who calls." The HCSB uses the gender-neutral "the One who calls." Similar translations can be found in Acts 22:9 and a number of texts in Revelation, including 2:1,8,12; 3:1,7; 4:9,10; 5:1,7,13 and several others.

Which version best represents the original meaning of the text? Each reader must answer that for (a) himself, (b) herself or (c) oneself.

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3/21/2002 11:00:00 PM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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