Exploring the biblical theology of Christian egalitarianism

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One question I frequently hear is, “Which Bible translation is the best?” The people asking this question are usually Christians who are dissatisfied with translations that seem biased towards men when, in fact, the intended meaning of many passages is gender-inclusive (i.e. the passages apply to men and to women).

Gender Inclusivity in Older Translations

Older English translations often use the words “man” or “men,” as well as masculine pronouns, in a generic way in verses that apply to both sexes. It was expected that readers would somehow know which verses were about, or applied to, men and women, and which verses were about, or applied to, only men. But this can be difficult to do.

For example, can you tell which of the following verses are addressed to men only (in the Greek text), and which verses are gender non-specific? The answer may surprise you. (I’ve underlined the masculine terms to highlight them.)

I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. 1 Timothy 2:8 (NIV 1984)

If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.  Romans 12:6-8 (NIV 1984)

The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:2 (NIV 1984) (More about this verse here.)

… if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 1 Timothy 3:1 (KJV) (More about this verse here.)

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature …  2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)

1 Timothy 2:8 is the only verse here about men. The other verses do not include gender-specific language in the Greek, but this is not readily apparent to the average reader of the older, as well as a few recent, English translations.

Gender Inclusivity in Recent Translations

Some recent translations are more gender-inclusive than others. It is often assumed that the ESV is one of the least gender-inclusive translations. The ESV is known for not including even one female scholar in their translation teams. Furthermore, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood have plainly stated that the ESV is an “unapologetically complementarian” translation. That is, they believe the ESV upholds distinct gender roles (i.e. a gender hierarchy). (More on gender bias in the ESV here.)

The 2011 edition of the NIV is a more gender-inclusive translation, but I am disappointed by some translation decisions. In my opinion, both the ESV and the NIV have poorly translated a couple of key passages about the humanity of Jesus Christ. These verses about Jesus have been translated in the past in ways that highlight his male sex. But in the Greek New Testament, Jesus is rarely referred to as an anēr (an adult male); rather, he is typically referred to as an anthrōpos (“human”). While Jesus came to earth as a male human being, it is the fact that he became human that makes him the saviour of humanity. Women and girls are equally included in the salvation offered through Jesus.

Philippians 2:7b-8

In the famous Christological passage in Philippians 2, Jesus’ humanity is referred to twice in the Greek, but the NIV and ESV, as well as the CSB, only refer to his “human-ness” once. The NASB 1995 and KJV (which are older translations) use the word “man/men” twice each. The NRSV and Common English Bible (CEB) don’t use “man/men” at all. Compare the following translations of Philippians 2:7b-8a (I have underlined the masculine words and I have italicised the gender-neutral, inclusive words):

… being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man … NASB 1995 cf. KJV
… being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form …  ESV
… being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man … NIV 2011
… taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man … CSB
… being born in human likeness. And being found in human form … NRSV
and by becoming like human beings. When he found himself in the form of a humanCEB

1 Timothy 2:3b-5

1 Timothy 2:3b-5 is another passage that I believe has been poorly translated in some Bibles. It contains the word anthrōpos (“human/humanity”) three times. The meaning is that God wants all people, not just men, to be saved, and that Jesus is the mediator between God and humanity, not just men.

The NIV 1984 edition translates all three occurrences of anthrōpos with “man/ men” words:

… God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:3b-5 (NIV 1984, underlines added).

The ESV has two “man/ men” words.

… God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus … (ESV, italics and underlines added).

The NIV 2011 translates it slightly more inclusively.

… God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus … (NIV 2011, italics and underlines added).

The CSB is still more inclusive.

… God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, the man Christ Jesus … (CSB, italics and underlines added).

1 Timothy 2:3b-5 is translated faithfully in the NRSV and CEB with inclusive words such as “people,” “humanity,” and “human” (instead of “man/ men”).

… God our savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. There is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, the human Christ Jesus …(CEB, italics added).

There are several other important verses where the NRSV and CEB translators have accurately translated from the original languages by not using gendered language.

Gender Inclusivity and Interpretation

Avoiding the use of gendered language in English translations of the Bible can sometimes be difficult. One reason why it is difficult is because referring to people as “humans” or even as “people” can sound odd in some verses. Another reason is because the original biblical languages were gendered. The masculine grammatical gender is typically the default gender in Greek and in Hebrew for a generic person or a group of people which may, or may not, include women. So, the question of when to use gender-inclusive pronouns and words usually involves interpretation. And interpretation can be subjective.

For instance, John 3:16 in the Greek contains three grammatically masculine words for “everyone who is believing”: πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων. It could be argued that these masculine words might be translated as “every man who is believing.” Thankfully, however, all English translations have translated John 3:16 inclusively. Nevertheless, other verses that use a similar masculine Greek construction, such as Romans 12:6-8, have not always been translated inclusively.

Romans 12:6-8

Romans 12:6-8 is a useful passage to gauge how translations deal with inclusive language. Comparing different translations of these verses demonstrates how context and one’s own doctrinal preference informs interpretation, which then determines whether these verses are translated inclusively. Romans 12:6-8 contains no masculine personal pronouns in the Greek and no word for “man,” yet the NIV 1984 contains 8 masculine personal pronouns and adds the word “man.”  Conversely, the CEB, CSB, NIV 2011, and NRSV contain zero masculine pronouns and no word for “man.”

While there are no pronouns in Romans 12:6-8, there are five masculine articles in the Greek which are translated as “he” in the NASB 1995;[1] this is not an inaccurate translation, but the NASB then adds a few more masculine pronouns. [Update: The NASB 2020 uses gender-neutral language in Romans 12:6-8.]

The ESV, however, reveals its bias in Romans 12:6-8. The ESV translators have chosen to insert the masculine pronoun “his” in regards to teaching and exhortation, but not for contributing, leading, and doing acts of mercy. This translation choice is not based on the Greek text.[1]

“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness” Romans 12:6-8 ESV (Italics added).

The CEB, CSB, NIV 2011, and NRSV translate Romans 12:6-8 as potentially applying to both men and women, with no trace of gender bias. The ESV translators seem to have decided that most of Romans 12:6-8 is gender-inclusive except for the ministries of teaching and exhortation.

As I said, interpretation can be subjective. Moreover, some verses are genuinely difficult to interpret. For these and other reasons, such as no inclusive singular third-person pronoun in English, it is impossible to produce a perfectly gender-accurate and gender-inclusive translation.

So what is the best English translation of the Bible?

From the few examples given, the NRSV and CEB have shown that they are committed to gender-accuracy, gender-inclusivity, and gender-clarity.[2] The style of the CEB, however, makes it much, much, easier to read than the NRSV. Both are excellent translations; nevertheless, it is beneficial to read from several recent translations if available, as no translation is perfect.

Our knowledge of biblical languages has improved immensely in past decades, so recent translations are to be preferred over ones dating before the 1990s. I often use the NIV 2011, despite what I consider to be some arbitrary translation decisions. But I can see where these are in the New Testament because I rely on the Nestle-Aland and SBL Greek New Testaments which I read pretty much every day.

I’ve only looked at a few translations for this post, but, before finishing, I want to point out that the New Living Translation (NLT) has a distinct gender bias, and the new Passion Translation is not really a translation or even a paraphrase. The Passion Translation is not a version to use for serious study. On the other hand, the online NET Bible, despite a slight gender bias, is a good Bible for study because of its helpful notes.

As for the Christian Standard Bible (CSB), it is an accurate translation and beautifully written. I love its accuracy and style so much that I have chosen this translation for linked Bible citations on my website, but there is some bias against female ministers (e.g., Rom. 16:1; 2 Tim. 2:2; 2 Pet. 1:21;  Jas 3:1). I use it for quotations where this bias doesn’t appear. The CSB is one of the few English Bibles that correctly translates the singular verb (= “she will be saved”) and the plural verb (= “they continue”) in 1 Timothy 2:15. And for that, I am grateful.

Which English translations and paraphrases do you prefer?

Which foreign language Bibles do you recommend for people wanting gender-inclusive verses to be translated in a gender-inclusive way?


Footnotes

[1] The five masculine articles in Romans 12:7b-8 are connected to five masculine participles. (John 3:16 similarly contains a masculine article and participle, as well as a masculine adjective.) The five masculine articles with the participles in the Greek of Romans 12:7b-8 are translated gender-neutrally and inclusively in the ESV (e.g., “the one who contributes”), but the masculine pronoun “his” has been inserted in the two phrases about teaching and exhorting. Masculine pronouns have not been inserted in the other phrases even though the grammatical construction of the three following phrases is almost identical to the teaching and exhorting phrases, and somewhat similar to the ministry/serving phrase (in that it includes ἐν τῇ) in Romans 12:7a.

[2] I use the term “gender-clarity” to refer to the helpful use of gendered language (e.g., masculine or feminine pronouns) in verses that are specifically about men or specifically about women. For example, some translations go too far and translate passages that clearly refer to men (e.g., 1 Tim. 2:8) or clearly refer to women (e.g., 1 Tim. 2:9-10) as though they are gender-inclusive.

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Postscript (October 24, 2020): The NASB 2020

I’m disappointed in the new NASB.

~ In previous editions of the NASB, Andronicus and Junias (both masculine names) were “outstanding among the apostles.” But now that they’ve fixed Junia’s gender and made her a woman, the couple is “outstanding in the view of the apostles” and so are not apostles themselves. (I discuss if Andronicus and Junia were among the apostles, or not, here.)

~ Previous editions often translated the word adelphoi as “brethren,” a word which many readers feel has an inclusive sense. In the 2020 edition, adelphoi is usually translated as “brothers and sisters” but with some notable exceptions which limit the inclusion of women.
For example, James 1:2 reads, “Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters (adelphoi), when you encounter various trials …” But two chapters later, sisters are not mentioned: “Do not become teachers in large numbers, my brothers (adelphoi), since you know that we who are teachers will incur a stricter judgment” (James 3:1). Here is the 1995 version for comparison: “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”

~ 1 Timothy 2:11 is unchanged from the previous edition and still sounds too passive: “A woman must quietly receive instruction …” This translation is not as accurate as it could be. The Greek verb used here means “to learn” and it is not passive. The CSB is more accurate: “A woman is to learn quietly …”

~ In 1 Timothy 2:15, “But women will be preserved” is unchanged from the previous edition, except that “women” was previously italicised to indicate the word was an addition. It is not italicised in the 2020 edition. Italicised or not, “women” (plural) is incorrect and it alters the meaning Paul intended. The CSB accurately translates the singular Greek verb with”she will be saved.”

~ As in the previous edition, the translators have used the words “man” and “office” in 1 Timothy 3:1: “if any man aspires to the office of overseer …” But there is no Greek word that means “man” in this verse, and being an overseer in Ephesus may not have been considered a church office until later. The CSB translation of this phrase is more accurate with their word “anyone”: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer …” (I’ve written about 1 Timothy 3:1 and “man” here.)

For the sake of comparison with other translations of 1 Timothy 2:3b-5 in the article above, here’s how the NASB 2020 translates this verse:
“God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.”

And here’s Philippians 2:7b-8:
“being born in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man …” NASB 2020.
“Being born” is different from “being made” in the previous edition. It’s difficult to see how any baby can be born in the likeness of men. Jesus was born in human likeness. The NASB has retained the masculine language used in the previous edition.

The translation of Romans 12:6-8 in the NASB 2020 is unmarked by gendered words. It uses the word “one”; previous editions of the NASB had the word “he.”

However, since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to use them properly: if prophecy, in proportion to one’s faith; if service, in the act of serving; or the one who teaches, in the act of teaching; or the one who exhorts, in the work of exhortation; the one who gives, with generosity; the one who is in leadership, with diligence; the one who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:6-8 NASB 2020


Further Reading

7 Places where Gender-Inclusive Bible Translation Really MattersPart One and Part Two, by Jeffrey D. Miller.
A short review of the CEB by Hebrew scholar Martin Shields is here.
An evaluation of passages in the NET Bible that affect the status and ministry of women by Laura Hunt is here.
What’s Wrong with the Passion ‘Translation’? by Andrew Wilson is here.
The Passion Translation: A Review of the Treatment of Hebrews by Philip Church is here.

A PDF of the TNIV is here.

Related Articles

Why masculine pronouns can be misleading in the Bible and in the church
Is God Male or Masculine?
Gender Bias in the NLT
The ESV-Bible’s Men-only Club
Manhood and Masculinity in the ESV
The Importance of Using Feminine Words and Images

73 thoughts on “Which Bible translation is best?

  1. What about the controversial TNIV?

    1. From what I understand, the TNIV is no longer being published, so I didn’t include it in my short investigation.

      1. Oh, sorry, I hadn’t heard. So is the TNIV a victim of vicious attacks from complementarians? The things I’ve heard said about it… A study of the short history of this translation might be worth the effort.

        1. I missed the storm about the TNIV, but I was very aware of the storm surrounding the NIV 2011. Most of the criticism of the NIV 2011 concerning gender-inclusive language was utterly unfounded.

          I think a history of Bible translation would be fascinating. Scot McKnight has an interesting blog post about the politics of Bible translations: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/10/01/the-politics-of-bible-translations/

          1. That’s too bad. I use the TNIV and really like it. When I compare it to the others in this article it stands up very well.

    2. Here’s what I’ve found out about the TNIV.

      ‘The TNIV (Today’s New International Version) was officially “folded into” the updated NIV in 2011. The TNIV, published in 2005 and produced by the same translation committee as the NIV, was essentially the third edition of the NIV, after the 1978 and 1984 editions. Previously Biblica and Zondervan were publishing the TNIV alongside the 1984 NIV, but now only a single edition of the translation, the 2011 update, is being published.’ (Source)

      I can’t find the TNIV online. Old links to the TNIV redirect to the NIV 2011.

      Update: a PDF of the TNIV is available here.

  2. What about the HCSB translation? How does that compare to NIV, CEB, and NRSV? Or is it better to just try to learn Greek and get a Greek Bible? And if so, what one would you recommend?

    1. I’ve just had a quick look at the HCSB. 1 Timothy 2:4-5 and Romans 12:6-8 contain non-gendered words (like the NRSV and CEB), but it uses “men” and “man” in Philippians 2:7-8. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 contains 8 masculine personal pronouns even though there are none in the Greek. Also, the second “she” is incorrect in 1 Timothy 2:15. If I have time, I may take a closer look at the HCSB.

      It would take more than a decade (at the very least) of consistent study and reading to reach the level of proficiency of the Greek and Hebrew translators of these Bibles. If you have the time, talent and desire, learning Greek and/or Hebrew is the way to go.

      I use the SBL Greek New Testament and the Nestle-Aland Greek Novum Testamentum Graece. They are available online here https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=%20%CE%9A%CE%91%CE%A4%CE%91%20%CE%9C%CE%91%CE%A4%CE%98%CE%91%CE%99%CE%9F%CE%9D+1&version=SBLGNT
      and here: http://www.nestle-aland.com/en/read-na28-online/

  3. Hi! I’m writing my undergraduate dissertation on the Gender of God, and will have a chapter on bible translations and their pronouns; can you recommend any books? What sources did you use for this? Great article, thank you! 🙂

    1. Hi Jenny,

      The statements in this post are based on my own observations. I’m sure there are books, etc, written about pronouns in Bible translations, but I haven’t come across them.

      Your dissertation topic is very interesting. I have an article on the gender of God that has a short bibliography of the sources I used, here.

  4. As always, I am blessed to have your thoughts and feelings regarding these immensely important issues to the children of God. The careful efforts you throw into your wonderful analyses are both apparent and obvious – and they help all of us – men and women. There is only one goal for both brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, and that is to love one another within frameworks and activities that are on our singular journeys – with the overarching purpose to bring honor and glory to our Father. Your tireless and compelling efforts on so many fronts and so many levels, help all of us to love each other more sincerely and deeply, increasing our understanding in areas we may (with gender-based vision) overlook, and these efforts certainly waif “as a sweet incense” to the Throne Room to delight Father. Bless you and thank you.

    1. Thank you, Ray. You say the loveliest things,

  5. Zondervans TNIV is freely available in S.A. wrt to NLT I see in a related article that you refer to NLT 2007. Is there not an updated newer translation perhaps?

    1. Thanks for letting us know about the availability of the TNIV in South Africa.

      The gender-biased choices made by NLT translators seem to be deliberate choices. They updated their copyright in 2015, but I can’t see significant differences in their translation. One difference is that the word “elder” has been changed to “church leader” in 1 Tim 3:2, but they have retained “must be a man”, a phrase which does not occur in the Greek texts. The NLT retains its bias.

      1. a church elder or “bishop” of that period would have been a man…fact.

        1. Hi Doug,

          I’m not sure what you base your fact on. The New Testament is sketchy on this kind of information. The most we can say is that men were more likely to be elders and bishops, particularly in the churches at Ephesus and Crete. Though I strongly suspect Priscilla was a leader in the house church she hosted with her husband in Ephesus and, later, in her house church in Rome. She was prominent in the Christian communities at Corinth, Ephesus and Rome.

          Furthermore, Priscilla, with her husbands, acts as a leader in Ephesus and appears to be regarded as a leader in Rome: in Ephesus, it is Priscilla and Aquila (and no one else) who corrects Apollos; in Romans 16, the couple are acknowledged first (and Priscilla’s name appears before Aquila’s) in Paul’s greetings to individuals in the church at Rome. Moreover, churches were grateful for the ministry of Priscilla and her husband (Romans 16:3-5).

          Women were ubiquitous in the missions of Paul, and he refers to these women with his favourite ministry terms: coworker, apostle (apostolos), minister/deacon (diakonos). Paul does not identify any of his male or female colleagues as elder, bishop (episkopos), or pastor. Nevertheless, I suspect women, as well as men, functioned as elders and bishops in a few New Testament congregations. It’s only later that women were discouraged, and then officially banned, from such roles.

          In a misguided move, the council at Laodicea (circa 360) banned women elders. Why ban something that did not exist?
          “It is not allowed for those women who are called ‘priests/elders’ (presbytides) or ‘those women presiding’(prokathēmenai) to be ordained (kathistasthai) in the churches.”
          Canon 11 of the Council of Laodicea

          It’s well past time for the church to take a reality check:
          ~ To acknowledge that women were leaders in the New Testament and valued by Paul.
          ~ To acknowledge that 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 addressed bad behaviour and were not meant to silence godly women and stifle their ministries.
          ~ To acknowledge that the various New Testament churches had differing and often fluid leadership and ministry “structures.”
          ~ To acknowledge that the church and the world is weaker for not allowing appropriately gifted Christian women (like Priscilla) to lead.

          More on the ministry of women in the first century church here. More on Priscilla here.
          More on the roles of episkopoi (bishops) here.

        2. I’m pretty sure you’re way over confident on that one, Doug. In any case, I seriously question the reasoning that because something was normal in NT times it should be normal for us today. How the Church (and society) was 2000 years ago is not the authoritative marker for how it should be for all time. Otherwise, where is the transforming power of the gospel in the world? The first century churches were not perfect!

  6. Which foreign language Bibles do you recommend for people wanting gender-inclusive verses to be translated in a gender-inclusive way?

    1. I don’t speak other modern languages other than English, so I’m leaving this question to others to answer.

    2. Among the French translations available online, I found both the Nouvelle Français courant and the La Nouvelle Bible Segond quite similar in the two texts I investigated. Both used gender neutral language for Mark 1,17. They both used some masculine pronouns in Romans 12, 6-8. There are a couple other translations that may more gender neutral but I don’t have them at hand.

      1. Thanks for this, Duncan!

  7. Thank you for this Margaret! Handled comprehensively and critically. We needed this rundown!!

    1. You’re very welcome.

  8. Hi Marg.
    I like the N.R.S.V. in a lot of places regarding gender equality and particularly the way they translate Rom 4:5,’But to one who without works trusts Him who justifies the ungodly,such faith is reckoned as righteousness’

    1. That is very nicely rendered in the NRSV. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Nice post. I’m still left wondering what the original Greek is of the verses regarding the gender-inclusive or gender-neutral pronouns? God Bless

    1. Hi CT,

      Most of the verses I’ve quoted contain no personal pronouns in the Greek. But even verses that contain masculine pronouns can be gender-inclusive depending on certain factors.

      To understand the grammar and all the nuances that need to be considered when translating Greek into English, including the grammar concerning personal pronouns, cannot possibly be explained in a blog post.

  10. Thank you very much for your post reviewing different Bible translations. I hope you’ll comment on the Bible translation of Craig R. Smith.

  11. I like the Revised English Bible for the New Testament and the Jewish Publication Society translation for the Old.

  12. Hi Marg,
    I have read the KJV all my life. I am 60 now. Time is a factor. Does the Strong’s concordance help in any way for KJV? Thank you dear, very informative .

    1. Hi Charles,

      Strong’s concordance does help; however, Strong’s dictionary is not the best.

      Around the time Strong’s Concordance and Dictionary was first published, hundreds of papyrus documents written in Koine Greek, the language of the New Testament, were being discovered in Egypt and Qumran. Other Koine documents were discovered in the 1800s and 1900s in archives of monasteries, etc. Subsequent study of these documents has immensely improved our knowledge of Koine. Unfortunately, James Strong’s wonderful work did not benefit from this knowledge.

      The KJV is a good translation. If I had doubts about a verse or word, I would see how it is translated in a newer, better translation.

  13. Hi Marg, have you had any time to see my NT at http://bible.fether.net ?

    1. Hi Paula,

      Yes, I’ve looked at it several times.

      I can’t imagine doing something like that. It must have taken you ages. It’s an impressive amount of work for one person!

      1. Thx! Couldn’t have done it w/o the Spirit, of course. But I think a spot check of some of the passages you mentioned here seems to be accurate, I think.

  14. Thanks for this analysis, Marg. I’m looking for another translation to start my re-read of the Bible and think I’ll get a copy of the CEB for this read-through.

    Tim

    1. Great choice. Many of the translation decisions are refreshing in that the translators haven’t been bowed to traditional terminology, and have several translated key terms authentically. I have a few quibbles over other decisions.

  15. While I use various Bible “translations”, it appears that the KJV is indeed superior and that can be proven with just one word…pride. Jeremiah 13:15 clearly states “Be not proud…” And other verses state how God opposes those who are prideful. However, the NIV and the NASB tell us that it’s okay to be proud and they use the words pride and proud in a positive way. They CONTRADICT what the word of God tells us specifically not to do. On the other hand, the KJV uses the words pride and proud 102 times, and never contradicts itself…not once are the words pride or proud used in a positive reference. Thus, the NASB and the NIV are not really translations at all, because they have proven themselves to be incorrect. At best, it would seem they are merely commentaries. I occasionally use them because the KJV can sometimes be difficult to understand. But by making such an obvious error, they have shown that they are not the Word Of God.

    Today, Satan has deceived virtually the entire world into believing that the very thing that he fell from can actually be a good thing, and people, even Christians, speak of it in positive ways. But God has clearly told us that pride is never good. Unfortunately, there are Bible “translators” who have fallen for Satan’s lie. What better way to deceive people and to keep them from seeing the pride in their lives, than to confuse the meaning of the word.

    1. Really? The NIV and NASB say it’s okay to be proud?
      You need to read these translations, and in context, even if it’s just to get your “facts” straight and provide some citations, before making unfounded, ridiculous claims.

      God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. James 4:6b NIV
      God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6b NASB

      Hear and pay attention, do not be arrogant, for the LORD has spoken. Jeremiah 13:15 NIV
      Listen and give heed, do not be haughty, For the LORD has spoken. Jeremiah 13:15 NASB

      “Arrogant”, “haughty”, and “proud” are synonyms. These words convey the same idea of a negative kind of pride.

      1. As I mentioned above, I occasionally use the NIV and NASB. But I view them as commentaries, rather than the Word of God, for God’s Word does not contradict itself. Here are a few examples of contradictions in the NIV and NASB.

        In the NASB it states…A man’s pride will bring him low… Proverbs 29:23 and Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. Proverbs 16:18 And yet in 2 Chronicles 17:6 it states, He (Jehoshaphat) took great pride in the ways of the Lord…Did Jehoshaphat take great pride in the ways of the Lord? No. He was deeply committed to the ways of the Lord. The translation is contradictory and incorrect.

        Also consider the following:
        2 Corinthians 1:12 For our proud confidence is this…

        2 Corinthians 1:14 just as you also partially did understand us, that WE ARE YOUR REASON TO BE PROUD as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus.

        2 Corinthians 5:12 We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us

        2 Thessalonians 1:4 therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you

        So on the one hand, God opposes the proud and yet the NASB would have us believe that it’s okay to speak proudly, be proud, and have a proud confidence as long as it’s all for a good reason.

        But the truth is, it’s not okay for any reason. The KJV translators knew this and that’s why they never used the words pride or proud in a positive way. They always have a negative reference.

        Now let’s take a look at the NIV

        Proverbs 8:13 To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance… Now that’s pretty clear. And yet in Isaiah 60:15, the NIV would apparently have us believe that God really doesn’t mean what he says about pride because it states that in reference to Jerusalem, God says that “Although you have been forsaken and hated, with no one traveling through, I will make you the everlasting pride and the joy of all generations. So God says that he hates pride but yet he is going to make Jerusalem the EVERLASTING PRIDE. God does not contradict himself but the NIV does.

        Also consider…

        Romans 11:13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry.

        2 Corinthians 5:12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart

        2 Corinthians 7:4 I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you….

        2 Corinthians 8:24 Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the REASON FOR OUR PRIDE in you, so that the churches can see it.

        Galatians 6:4 Each one should test their own actions. Then THEY CAN TAKE PRIDE IN THEMSELVES alone, without comparing themselves to someone else

        James 1:9 Believers in humble circumstances OUGHT TO TAKE PRIDE in their high position

        All these verses about being proud and taking pride and yet in Romans 12:16 it states, Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud…

        As mentioned above, the NASB and the NIV contradict themselves and are in error and therefore are not the WORD of God. I personally find them to be very helpful, but realize that commentaries, while helpful, are not always correct.

        Our society has been deceived by Satan…pride is never a good thing, for any reason. Respect however, is always good. Have respect but do not have pride. To fully understand this, one would need to know God’s specific definition of pride, which cannot be found in the Bible. I cannot go into it here, except to say that arrogance and haughtiness are not synonyms of pride. They are attitudes which develop out of pride. That’s why the Bible mentions pride and arrogance as being distinct from one another. For pride is much deeper than arrogance or haughtiness, and far more consuming. Satan wasn’t arrogant until after his pride consumed him, and the fact is, all of society’s evils, stem from pride. Unfortunately, most people think it can be a good thing.

        1. The NASB translates the Greek word that means “boast” as “proud confidence”, etc. Perhaps it’s not the best translation, but it is not a misleading translation.

          Paul did a lot of boasting in his letters. He uses the verb kaucháomai 36 times and the noun kaúchēma 10 times!

          I have baulked at Paul’s boasts, but I appreciate it better now that I understand the highly competitive honour-shame pecking order that was a prominent dynamic in the culture of that time. Nevertheless, it still sits uncomfortably with me.

          Do Paul’s statements mean that it’s okay to boast or to glory in a situation? It’s important to look at what Paul is boasting about, or, “taking pride” in. It’s the same for James (James 1:9; 4:16). Context is always key.

          What is Paul boasting about? What is he “taking pride” in? He is boasting about counter-cultural things (e.g., tribulations). And he is boasting about God. In regards to other things, he denounces boasting and pride.

          The KJV translates the noun kaúchēma inconsistently: often as “glory”, sometimes as “boast”, sometimes as “rejoice”, etc. “Rejoice”. does not adequately convey the sense Paul intended (2 Cor 1:14 KJV; Gal. 6:4 KJV; Phil 1:26 KJV; Phil. 2:16 KJV; cf. Heb. 3:6 KJV).

          The KJV also translated the verb kaucháomai inconsistently: often as “boast”, sometimes as “glory”, sometimes as “rejoice” or “joy” (See here for examples). Again, “rejoice” or “joy” is not an adequate translation. “Exult”, however conveys a correct nuance as it involves victorious, glorious rejoicing (Romans 5:2, 3, 11 NASB).

          I think the NASB should have stuck with the word “boast” when translating the kauch– words, but it is a stretch to say that the NASB says it’s okay to be proud, especially in an arrogant manner.

          I also think the KJV should have stuck with the word “boast” when translating the kauch– words!

          1. I agree, I don’t think the NASB is saying it’s okay to be proud in an arrogant, negative manner. But it appears to be saying that it’s okay to be proud in a good way. However, what the translators of the NASB and NIV apparently didn’t realize, is that there is no good way to be proud. Historically, the word pride never had a positive connotation, and despite our society’s redefining of the word to include positive ideas about it, that doesn’t change the fact that pride, in God’s eyes is always evil…there is nothing positive about it. That’s one of the biggest lies that Satan has presented, and the world bought it. In fact, if you ask people what pride is, many now tend to think of it primarily in a positive way. Pride is quite often no longer seen as evil, and Satan is delighted, because pride is what keeps people from Christ and it takes them to Hell. Pride is what breaks up families, it causes nations to fall and it’s the reason why there are fallen angels in chains.

            It’s interesting, that the King James points out that pride has been the cause of EVERY argument since the beginning of time. Proverb 13:10…Only by pride cometh contention… We have been deceived, for there is nothing good about it.

          2. As I said, I think the NASB and the KJV should have translated the “boasting” words more consistently.

            Another question is what the Hebrew words translated as “pride”, or “insolence” or “arrogance” are in Proverbs 13:10 and other Old Testament verses. And I don’t have time for that right now.

            Whatever the case, the NASB or the NIV does not say it’s okay to be proud in an arrogant, insolent or haughty manner. This is clear. No one is being deceived here.

            Paul, on the other hand, thinks it’s okay to boast in God and boast in troubles, etc. And this may indeed involve some kind of pride (or “glory” as the KJV puts it). Not all ideas in the Bible fall into two distinct categories of right and wrong. There are different kinds of pride.

            The NASB and the NIV, indeed all major English translations, translate Proverbs 13:10 with the same meaning whether they use they use the word “pride” or not. The meaning is clear: pride/arrogance/insolence and strife/contention/conflict go hand in hand. No one is being mislead here.

            Importantly, the meaning of words is shaped by its context. As long as people are reading scriptures in context, there is no problem. Problems occur when we single out verses, and words, and remove them from their context.

            I’m glad we agree on this: “I don’t think the NASB is saying it’s okay to be proud in an arrogant, negative manner. But it appears to be saying that it’s okay to be proud in a good way.”

            Furthermore, it doesn’t matter what “pride” meant historically. The NASB and NIV are translated for current readers with a knowledge of the current usage of the word “pride”. If anything, the NIV and NASB make it clearer if it’s a good “pride” (KJV: “glory”) or a bad “pride” (NASB, NIV, etc: “insolence/arrogance/haughtiness”).

            Bad pride is bad. No one disputes this.

          3. Can you help explain Isa.9:3?
            The kjv does not appear to sync with any other translation, and I’m wondering if I’m the only one that’s noticed it.

            KJV
            “Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.” Isa 9:3

            ISV
            “You have increased the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice in your presence as they rejoice at the harvest, as they are glad when they’re dividing the spoils of war.”  Isa 9:3

            Only the KJV maintains “have not increased the joy,”

            All other translations I checked said, “You have increased the joy.”

            Can you help me clarify this?

            Many thanks.

          4. Hi Tony,

            In some printings of the Aleppo Codex and the Westminster Leningrad Codex, as well as a Hebrew word meaning “not” there is also another Hebrew word given in round brackets: (לוֹ) (“its/his”). This is an alternate word to לא (“not”) proposed by the Masoretes.

            See here and here. On Bible Gateway the two words are put in single and double quotation marks respectively. See here.

            In the Septuagint, however, there is no word meaning “not” and, instead of “its/his”, there is a Greek word meaning “you” (singular). Compare the translation from Hebrew: “You have multiplied the nation. You have increased its joy”; with the translation from the Septuagint: “The multitude of people who you have led down in your joy . . .”

            It seems that most English Bible translators were guided by context in determining how to translate the pertinent phrase.

            OT professor Claude Marriotini explains this issue further here.

            Note that Isaiah 9:3 in English Bibles corresponds to Isaiah 9:2 in Hebrew and Greek Bibles.

  16. Hi Marg,

    Thanks for this article. For what it’s worth, I looked up a few of the passages above in the second edition of the NLT and it appears they have made some changes in a positive direction, so it may be worth a second look at some point. I do find it easy to read as well.

    Al

    1. Hi Al,

      I’ve had a few full days and have only been able to check these verses today.

      Here’s how the most recent edition of the NLT renders the verses, or pertinent phrases in the verses, mentioned above. I’ve italicised the problem words.

      1 Timothy 3:1-2 NLT: “. . . So a church leader must be a man . . . ”

      2 John 1:5 NLT: “I am writing to remind you, dear friends . . .”

      1 Timothy 2:11-15 NLT: Women should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. But women will be saved through childbearing, assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty.

      1 Corinthians 11:10 NLT: “For this reason, and because the angels are watching, a woman should wear a covering on her head to show she is under authority.”

      1 Peter 3:5-6 NLT: “They put their trust in God [They trusted God (2007)] and accepted the authority of their husbands. For instance, Sarah obeyed her husband, Abraham, and called him her master . . . ” (There is a slight difference in the wording in one phrase.)

      Ephesians 5:31-32: “. . . This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.”

      Genesis 3:16 NLT: “. . . And you will desire to control your husband . . .”

      Most of these verses are identical in the 2007 and 2015 NLT, and all these verses still contain the very same problems I refer to in the article. The only positive change that I can see is that the incorrect word “elder” has been replaced with a more correct word “church leader” in 1 Timothy 3:1.

      I’ve updated the article to include both versions of the NLT, the 2007 and 2015.

      What positive changes in the NLT 2015 have you seen?

      1. Hi again,

        Thanks for the time you have taken to look through so thoroughly.

        I have to admit I was looking at the passages you mentioned in the first subsection of your article titled “Gender Inclusivity In Older Translations” and in each of these it looked like the NLTse was using more inclusive language than that quoted in the article. I am new to all this and mistakenly assumed that this might also be reflected in other parts of the translation but clearly that is not the case.

        Thank you again for the very thorough analysis you have done on the merits of the various translations. It is very helpful.

        Al

        1. No worries. It was a good thing for me to update the article and refer to the most recent edition of the NLT.

  17. Great thread…!!! May I add that there is more to this than skewed pronouns in a slanted translation. Yes, translations do vary and bias is an art form, but the physical form in which we are confronted by God’s word makes a difference as well. The magazine, Christianity Today, in its Tuesday, August 27, 2019 edition, CT Women column, features an editorial by Kate Allnutt noting the first all female audio Bible, called the Courage for Life Bible. It has female narrators only. Intended for female inmates who had suffered abuse by men, the New Testament version has been well received by men as well… no surprise here… Work continues on the Old Testament. Check out Kate’s editorial and/or go here for a longer article: https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2019/august/prison-ministry-inspired-all-female-audio-bible.html

  18. I recently got a CSB, and I’m hoping to get a CEB soon. I’ve been enjoying the CSB, and I’m looking forward to having a more gender accurate CEB soon. I looked at some of the passages in the NET, and I was surprised by their notes. They do have many helpful notes that I like, but I noticed that a lot of their notes on certain verses have adamantly complementarian interpretations. Their complementarian bias also shows in some of their translations (Romans 16:7), but it seems okay for most. I’m glad about the way the NET translates Isaiah 3:12, but that made me even more surprised. It also made me remember how hard it can be to find a good translation that’s truly gender accurate and fair. (For reference, I looked at: 1 Timothy 2:11-15, 3:11; 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, 14:34-34; Romans 16:1-2, 7 in the NET).

    1. Your observation of the NET notes is the same as mine. I still look up the NET notes sometimes as they are mostly helpful.

  19. So I was wondering do you know anything about an inductive study Bible? Also I plan to read psalms and proverbs next month and I was wondering what is the best translation for understanding, knowledge and wisdom? Thank You.

    1. Hi Ron,

      I love the Common English Bible (CEB) Study Bible. I just used it for reading the book of Esther and have used it for other Bible books too.

      How someone approaches reading and thinking about the text largely determines if a study is inductive or not.

      Here is a short helpful article: https://www.navigators.org/resource/inductive-bible-study/

      Here is a longer one: https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/tips/the-inductive-method-of-bible-study-the-basics-11628183.html

  20. I grew up as United Methodist and am now newly Free Methodist. I have Always gone back and forth between using the NRSV and the NIV. I don’t like the lack of “Son of Man” in the OT in the NRSV. And i have read a number of comments people make of where the NRSV goes too far in gender neutral language. I have Not read too many specifics on issues with the NIV translation. So could you speak to some of the pros and cons to both the NRSV vs NIV? Also I have been told the CSB uses a lot more male pronouns unnecessarily than the NIV and thus it is far less gender neutral?

    1. Hi David,

      The NRSV is an accurate and quite literal translation, and it is the translation of choice in many theological colleges and universities in Australia, but I don’t like its style. I don’t enjoy reading it. I can see why some people might think the NRSV goes too far in gender-neutral language, but I don’t have a strong opinion on this.

      The NIV has got a good style and is easy to read, but there are more than a few translation choices that I disagree with and that, I think, spoil the translation (e.g., the handling of the verb sigaō, “be silent,” used three times in 1 Cor. 14:26-40). Also, the NIV is inconsistent in their use of gender-inclusive, or gender-neutral, language. It is much better than the NIV 1984, however.

      I really like the CSB. I love its style and its accuracy except for verses about women ministers. I have not at all noticed an unnecessary use of masculine pronouns in the CSB, and I wonder what verses they are referring to. Are they perhaps talking about the HCSB? I also like the CEB and some of their controversial renderings of verses, but a few verses are over-interpreted rather than translated.

      There is no English translation that is perfect, but I really like the CSB. The NIV 2011 isn’t a bad translation, and I do refer to it, but it’s not one of my favourites.

      1. Thanks for your response! Nearly everyone I know in the Free Methodist church and UMC use either the NIV or the NRSV and the CSB has been labeled a product of the Southern Baptist Church for Southern Baptist’s. BUT that being said I really like reading the CSB and I wanted To use it as my main bible translation all the while still affirming women as pastors and leaders HOWEVER it was an article on CBE international that made me feel the CSB shouldn’t be used in an egalitarian denomination and instead only the CEB, NRSV, or NIV 11 should be used. Thanks again for speaking positively of the CSB, I think I’ll give it another try

        1. Yes, a lot of my egalitarian friends have raised an eyebrow over my use of the CSB because it was produced by the Southern Baptists. But I can’t see that the CSB is any less gender-inclusive than the NIV 2011.

          This is how I came to prefer the CSB. I read the New Testament in Greek but when I quote a verse in my articles I need an English translation. So I compare English translations to see which most closely says what I think the Greek is saying. The CSB was only published in 2017, and I’m not sure how long it took to be included on Bible Gateway and Bible Hub, two websites I use to compare translations, but at some point I realised that the CSB was often the version that conveyed what I want to say. So now it’s the first translation I look at. I like it a lot with the exception of a few verses.

  21. what are your thoughts on the ESV

    1. Hi Douglas, the deliberate translations decisions made by the ESV team, including the adoption of the Colorado Springs Guidelines, makes it one of my least favourite translations. I’ve written a few articles that focus on the ESV. Here’s the link: https://margmowczko.com/tag/esv/

  22. I loved this article, only thing that makes me sad is that their is no fully accurate translation in this sense. I was excited about the CSB but it’s very bias still and inaccurate in certain ways. When will there be an accurate translation in this sense? It hurts when I read my bible sometimes lately because I feel vast aside even though I know that was not God’s intent

    1. All translation work requires interpretation. And understanding the books of the Bible, let alone succinctly translating them, is a difficult task. The biblical authors lived in societies with cultures and customs we are unfamiliar with and they wrote in ancient, now dead, languages. And there are words and concepts in the Hebrew and Greek that do not have an English word which adequately conveys the correct meaning.

      Bible translators have to make numerous decisions about words and phrases, and some of these decisions are influenced by theology and agendas. For all these reasons, there will never be a fully accurate translation of the Hebrew and Greek scriptures. Plus translating can be subjective. It’s not just a science; good translating is an art.

  23. So glad I found your blog; I am in heaven!! The only translation I have found that comes close to translating the ‘woman passages’ better than all the rest is the WEB translation, but curiously, only the version included in my favorite Bible app – MySword. Apparently someone has since edited WEB back to a more traditional interpretation. I constantly use the interlinear Bible in that app. So nice to have all the basic Greek and Hebrew resources in my pocket!

    I used the NKJV for years which was nice as I grew up on the KJV. Lately I am enjoying the HCSB for the same reasons you like it. It’s a shame it has the problems you point out. One of the reasons I like it is for having Yahweh occasionally in the OT. I would prefer, however, that it use Yawheh or Yehovah in every instance the Name occurs. Dumb tradition! I didn’t expect it to be particularly good on the woman passages since no one is, so I wasn’t surprised.

    1. Hi Angela.

      Just to clarify, I’m not a fan of the HCSB. I like the newer CSB.

      I wish more English translations used the word Yahweh or YHWH too.

  24. Marg et al… On the Yahweh–YHWH practice, might I call attention to the work of Mark L. Straus in “A Review of the Christian Standard Bible.” This is an extensive work and good reading for all. Mark Straus is University Professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary and well published. For his CV see: https://www.bethel.edu/academics/faculty/strauss-mark

    Here is a quote from the review mentioned above, (Sec.) 3.6.
    “Traditional Language. Although the gender language changes are perhaps the most significant in the revision of the HCSB, there are many others. In a good number of cases, the CSB reversed innovations made by the HCSB and returned to traditional language. Here are a few examples….” https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/themelios/article/a-review-of-the-christian-standard-bible/

    His is a good read… Russ

    1. This is a great read, Russ. Thanks! And it gives the reasons why I love the CSB so much. For one, they capture the meaning of idioms well. Though I wished the translators had used “Messiah” more.

      Here’s the paragraph where the reason are given for reverting back to “LORD” in the CSB:

      “Tom Schreiner gives four reasons for this change: (1) the inconsistency of usage in the HCSB; (2) fully consistent translation of יהוה as ‘Yahweh’ would overwhelm readers; (3) the unfamiliarity of Yahweh trips up readers; (4) the pattern of the New Testament, like the LXX, is to use the title κύριος (‘Lord’) rather than a personal name Yahweh.’”

      Reasons 2, 3 and 4 are fair.

      Also, I’ve just added some information from Strauss’s article to footnote 1 of this blog post about masculine language in the ESV: https://margmowczko.com/biblical-manhood-masculinity-esv/

  25. Thank you for your previous comments and your affirmation of the CSB. NIV 11 is still my all around favorite but I want to give the CSB more of a shot. What are your thoughts on the Psalms in the CSB as it seems many find it lacks elegance in comparison to the NIV Psalms? Also could you provide a list of the problem verses in the CSB? If it could be a pretty exhaustive list that’d be great so that I can Print that list out and keep it in my CSB so I know when I preach Or teach on one of those passages. Thanks for any info and help!

    1. Hi Dave, I use the CSB a lot but I haven’t really looked at the Psalms in the CSB. And at the moment, I can’t think of any other verses in the CSB I’m not in favour of.

      I don’t go looking for problematic verses. What usually happens is that I read a verse or passage in the Greek in the usual course of my reading, and then look for an English translation that matches how I read the Greek. Often the CSB best matches my understanding. If I come across any other verses that I think miss the mark, I may add them to the article.

  26. Hey Marg!
    I always Appreciate your thoughts on translations. So I have Asked other egalitarian friends and they seem convinced that the NASB 2020 is just as gender accurate as the CSB all the while holding that the CSB and NASB 2020 are not as gender accurate as NIV. I dont know Greek or Hebrew so that’s why I turn To the experts. So if NASB 2020 is just gender accurate as the CSB except in passages concerning women in leadership then couldn’t be justified to preach from except concerning those passages. Also although it is convenient to have gender accurate languages like the NRSV or NIV 11 for centuries there have been proponents of women being leaders in the church. If it wasn’t bible translation based I wonder What their scriptural arguments were for women in leadership based on the KJV which they probably had to use. Thanks!

    1. Hi David, I’ll answer your second question first. It wasn’t reading the Bible in a new English translation that persuaded me to become an egalitarian or mutualist, it was reading the New Testament in Greek and, to a much more limited extent, looking at Genesis 1-3 in Hebrew. Many other people have seen the issue of women ministers in a new light by reading the Bible in the original languages. However, many other people retain traditional ideas. I believe this is because their interpretation of the Bible is influenced by culture.

      The new NASB, overall, is more gender accurate than the previous edition, but I strongly dislike how they have added words to 1 Timothy 2:11 and 15 and 1 Timothy 3:1 that are misleading. I do not like the NASB 2020 and will not be recommending it.

  27. Would you say the CSB is a lot more formal than the NIV? ON many translation spectrums the CSB is shown as much more formal “word-for-word” than the NIV. Do you believe that is an accurate assessment?

    1. The CSB translation of the New Testament is remarkably “literal” or “word-for-word” while still having a great style. It is more accurate, word for word, than the NIV, but I wouldn’t say much more. I love the CSB.

      (I can’t comment on the translation of the Old Testament because I don’t know Hebrew that well.)

    2. I really like the HCSB for the Old Testament and for having “Yahweh” in many passages. Unfortunately they took that away for the update to the CSB. Its time for translations to stop the inaccurate misguided allergy to God’s Name.

      1. I wish all English translations consistently had YHWH, Yahweh, or even Jehovah for God’s name in the Old Testament. However, the HSCB was extremely inconsistent with translating God name. The HCSB rendered YHWH as “Yahweh” in only 656 of 6,000+ occurrences of YHWH. And overall, I don’t like the HSCB. (Source)

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