NIV 2011: Gender-inclusive language in Matthew 18:15-17

I am happy how it handles gender-inclusive language in using singular (“The one who. . . ,” “the person who. . . ,” “‟whoever. . . ,” and the like) instead of the awkward plurals (“they, their, etc.”).  The Committee’s translators’ notes says:

While the Greek word anēr (‟man” or ‟person”) was frequently translated with masculine forms in English, it is clear in several contexts that the word refers to men and women equally (an option endorsed by major dictionaries of the Greek NT).

Being contextual is not for the sake of trying to be gender-inclusive.  We need to look at facts when the writer or the speaker being quoted is intentionally speaking to both men and women. This is the way most of us speak in real life anyway, isn’t it?  In our everyday speech, how many of us direct our speech only to men?  Maybe some times but for the most part, I think I speak to both men and women when I preach and teach.

Let’s take a look at Matthew 18:15-17 to see a difference between the NIV 1984 and NIV 2011.

NIV 1984:

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

NIV 2011:

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Was Jesus speaking only to men or to both men and women?  Is gender-inclusiveness only for the sake of being gender-inclusive?  Or is gender-inclusive because Jesus, the speaker being quoted, was directing his teaching to the entire group of listeners?  If we are being gender-inclusive only for the sake of being neutral even if the speaker’s intention was directed to men, then I want nothing of it.  But if it was the speaker’s original intention to speak to both men and women, then “Yes!  I’m all for the changes in the updated NIV 2011.

I’m liking the updated NIV 2011

I’ve just been informed that the Updated NIV 2011 is now available on for preview. Thanks to fellow blogger TC Robinson for informing me. I think the news was released when I was out of the loop. In the mean time, it looks like others have also started blogging about the updated NIV of 2011 too: TC Robinson (here, here, here), Suzanne McCarthy (here, here, here, Iver Larsen (and here), Bill MounceJoel Hoffman, John Hobbins, Rick Mansfield, David Ker, Peter Kirk, and Brian Fulthorp. Comparison charts by Robert Slowly and John Dyer (and here) (HT: Wayne Leman).

Well, I’m glad the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) got past the bumps of the rough ride concerning the debacle of gender-inclusive language.  When pro-ESVers got on the anti-TNIV bandwagon and ignorantly trashed it, many of us bibliobloggers weren’t too happy about it, especially when gender-inclusive translations like the NLT got away without any lumps. It was a classic case of bullying.  When CBT trashed the TNIV, I remember I wasn’t too happy about that (here, here & here), but I’m glad the CBT took responsibility to back up its previous revision, the TNIV.  The translators’ notes states:

“As stated in the September 1, 2009, announcement regarding the planned update, every single change introduced into the committee’s last major revision (the TNIV) relating to inclusive language for humanity was reconsidered…. Nowhere in the updated NIV (nor in the TNIV, nor in any of the committee discussions leading up to either version) is there even the remotest hint of any inclusive language for God.” (see translators’ notes…)

And I’m glad that changes to the NIV do not happen haphazardly:

“Therefore a change is introduced into the text only if at least 70 percent of the committee members present at the time of the voting agree to it.

The changes to gender-inclusive language was intentional and so I think we need to support what CBT has done to bring these improvements into the NIV 2001.  In my eyes, CBT has redeemed itself.  Who cares what the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood thinks (here)!  I’m looking forward to reading more of the Updated NIV 2011.