The TNIV: still timeless truth in today’s language?

I was informed about a new blog that calls itself the TNIV Truth. The blogger, who we now know is Wayne Leman, is hoping that the truth about the TNIV gets out there because there has been a lot of criticism about the translation. Like him and others, I also feel that the TNIV has taken overly heavy criticism from other “brothers and sisters.” Why can’t we all get along? I do feel bad about the onslaught of critique toward the TNIV. Its translators are accused of embarking on a liberal social agenda of feminizing the bible, which I am sure does not exist. Both the TNIV and NLT translation teams are still conservative. The names on the translation teams and where they are associated are evangelical. It is difficult to accuse the TNIV of having a left-leaning social agenda. It still renders some definitions of terms in a traditional way. Here is an example where the TNIV has continued using a traditional translation. The TNIV’s use arsenokoitai (Greek: “lying with men”) is rendered in a traditional non-gender neutral way. Note: the Greek use of arsenokoitai in 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10 is can be translated as “lying with men” (from Scott-Liddell lexicon); but if we use a gender-neutral approach, one could translate this as “lying with men and women”. Both the TNIV and NLT have kept the use of the term “homosexuality” rather than using it in a gender-neutral term like “sodomite” (RE: 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10). If we assume a gender-neutral approach, then the NRSV’s translation of “sodomite” might also be the gender-accurate translation because it is not necessarily a male-on-male act of sodomy. This is only one example where the TNIV and NLT have continued using a traditional approach in translation.

2 thoughts on “The TNIV: still timeless truth in today’s language?

  1. Rick, I just read your previous post on 1Cor.6:9. I did not know that arsenokoitai meant the more dominant male partner of a homosexual relationship. That was a good explanation on this. Then I was wrong about it being a gender-neutral word. Also, to translate it to mean “men and women who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex” is still inaccurate. Since this is the case, the NRSV’s rendering of “sodomite” also seems inaccurate. Then they seemed to have missed it. (I guess it all goes to show the weak in the English language’s inability to express precise meanings.) This is where the T/NIV has done a good job. It makes me wonder what was in the minds of the NRSV translators. Thanks for pointing out the BDAG’s entry on arsenokoitai.


  2. It’s difficult to translate arsenokoitai directly into English. It’s clearly dealing with male homosexual behavior, but is in reference to the dominant partner of a homesexual relationship. The Greek language had separate words for both the dominant and passive partners. Both words occur in 1 Cor 6:9. I wrote on this a while back, specifically in regard to the way Peterson’s Message handles this verse:

    incidentally, the English word “homosexual” is inclusive by itself as it can mean both male and females who practice same sex relations. The change from “homosexuals” to “sodomites” is interesting. I can only guess it was in reference to an article I haven’t read, but is referred to in the BDAG entry on arsenokoitai. The statement reads: “on the impropriety of RSV’s ‘homosexuals’ [altered to ‘sodomites’ NRSV] s. WPetersen, VigChr 40, ’86, 187–91; cp. DWright, ibid. 41, ’87, 396–98; REB’s rendering of μαλακοὶ οὔτε ἀρσενοκοῖται w. the single term ‘sexual pervert’ is lexically unacceptable.”

    I haven’t read any of those references though.


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