I was sitting in church. The Bible reading was being delivered – a familiar passage. In my tired exhaustion I sat back presuming the words would just wash over me. My momentary interest was sparked as the reader read these three verses. I could hear the misplaced translation over and over again in my head. It wasn’t small. It was huge. Can I show you what’s wrong with the new NIV?
When culture trumps originality
So, we have been here before right? We have seen how important it is for a translation to capture the original text alongside cultural accessibility. The translation can’t be so wooden that we can barely understand the sentence structure because the translators are scared of forsaking the original. But on the other hand, they can’t try to be so accessible to culture that translations become mere paraphrasing.
In this case, the intention of being fairly close to the original and culturally accessible is in line with the heritage of the NIV translation as a good option. But, the latest update of the NIV has allowed the culture of the day to dictate so much that it has ended up distorting truth.
The drive for gender neutral translations has led the new version to lose the truth of God’s word.
Look at how it goes horribly wrong
So, gender neutral debate aside, because the issue is about whether culture should trump translation, let’s see how it can go horribly wrong.
“It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking.
6 But there is a place where someone has testified:
“What is mankind that you are mindful of them,
a son of man that you care for him?
7 You made them a little lower than the angels;
you crowned them with glory and honor
8 and put everything under their feet.”
In putting everything under them,God left nothing that is not subject to them.
Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them.”
The new translation chose to replace the word “him” for “them” so that we lose the masculine-heavy laden text and replaced it for a gender neutral term. But the reality is this text is talking about Jesus’ authority. It is supposed to read:
“you made him a little lower”
“You crowned him with glory and honour”
“And put everything under his feet”
God placed everything under Jesus, and nothing is not subject to him. Not us! This distorts a significant truth about who Jesus is and who we are. That could be very dangerous. It is not a light matter to alter the word of God.
So once again, what translation we read really, really matters. Be vigilant. Be mindful. Be a conscious reader.
We must not choose based on convenience, easy reading or culturally heavy translations. We choose what will help us grasp the God of the universe in all his fullness.