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.[3] 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.[4] 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. The same goes for The Voice, an equally awful “translation” that doesn’t live up to its aims. The First Nations Version (FNV), “an indigenous translation of the New Testament” published by InterVarsity Press in 2021, is an interesting but imprecise translation. A few verses are rendered with a patriarchal bent. (I’ve made some observations about the FNV in the comments section below.)  On the other hand, the online NET Bible, despite a slight gender bias, is a good Bible for reading and 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 the highlighted Bible citations on my website, but there is some bias against female ministers.[5] 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?


[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.

[3] 1 Peter 3:6 in the CEB is poorly translated, in my opinion.

[4] I don’t like that the verb sigaō (“be silent”), which occurs three times in 1 Corinthians 14:26–40, is translated three different ways in this passage in the NIV; it makes it easy to miss that Paul is silencing three groups of disorderly speakers here. And I’m disappointed that the NIV 2011 has added the word “man” in the phrase about believing children in Titus 1:6.

[5] Here’s a sample of verses in the CSB that show a bias against women ministers:
Romans 16:1: “servant” (I prefer “minister”)
Romans 16:7: “noteworthy in the eyes of the apostles” cf. Rom. 16:7 NIV
1 Timothy 3:11: “wives” ( I prefer “women”)
2 Timothy 2:2: “men” (I prefer “people”)
2 Peter 1:21: “man” and “men” cf. 2 Pet. 1:21 NIV
James 3:1: “brothers” (I prefer “brother and sisters”, or “siblings”).
I wish the CSB had “humanity” or “humankind” instead of “man” in Genesis 1:26 and 27. And I wish autos (“this one is my …’) had been translated in Matthew 12:50b, rather than be left untranslated.
Also “guy” in 1 Sam. 10:27, 1 Kings 22:27 and 2 Chron. 18:26, while not wrong, sounds a bit too casual to me.

© Margaret Mowczko 2016
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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 that 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 Peter 3:6 is unchanged from the previous 1995 edition and is still awful, but at least they’ve italised “since she is” to show that this is not in the Greek: “… live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman …” (I have more on 1 Peter 3:6 and “weaker vessel” here.)

~ That the Greek word prostatis is still translated as “helper” in Romans 16:2 NASB 2020 to describe Phoebe’s ministry is inexcusable, in my opinion. “Helper,” combined with “servant” (as a translation of diakonos) in 16:1,  misrepresents Phoebe’s ministry and status in her church at Cenchrea. Phoebe was a minister and a patron.

~ 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 previous editions of the NASB, the translators of the 2020 edition have included the words “man” and “office” in 1 Timothy 3:1: “if any man aspires to the office of overseer …” There is no Greek word that means “man” in this verse, however. And, if we assume that 1 Timothy was written before AD 75, calling the function of being an overseer an “office” is probably anachronistic. The church office of being an overseer was a later development. The CSB translation of this phrase is more accurate with their word “anyone”: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer …”
And 1 Timothy 3:8 is rendered, “A deacon must be men …” and in verse 10, “these men must also be tested” even though there is no Greek word for “men” in this verse. However, to be fair, they seem to be distinguishing between male deacons and female deacons (“women”) who are mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:11. (I’ve written about 1 Timothy 3 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

Take a look at this chart on Bible.org on how different English translations of the New Testament have rendered anthrōpos in passages that could reasonably have both men and women in view.
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.

Explore more

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
A Review of The Inclusive Bible

137 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. What about the Inclusive Bible- The First Egalitarian Translation – A Sheed & Ward Book- Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc?

        1. Hi Carrie, I don’t like The Inclusive Bible. It is not gender accurate.

          I’ve written about The Inclusive Bible here:

    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.

      1. you said you missed the storm over the TNIV – well by now, i would hope you have more awareness of what happened?

        1. Yes, but only after it was well and truly over.

          I watched the storm over the NIV 2011 occur as it unfolded and occasionally commented on it.
          For example: https://margmowczko.com/mary-kassian-niv2011/
          Thankfully, the silly storm over the NIV 2011 has dissipated.

    3. Since it is merely a past iteration of the NIV, the controversy is probably similar to the current NIV, which is probably slightly better. But I haven’t done a comparison and was never a big NIV user.

  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. For a few reasons, I don’t like the HCSB at all.

      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.

      I really like the CSB. It’s a huge improvement on the HCSB. But I don’t recommend the study Bible’s I’ve seen that use the CSB or HSCB.

      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.

    2. Paula, what a delight to find your work. I was also thrilled to see you had an esword module. Do you have/can you make an esword module of the interlinear as well? And where can I get a copy of your book All of You are One? This is an emphasis of my ministry also and few talk about it. Thanks!
      I am currently finishing a project to review all major general study Bibles for what they say about women and hierarchy.

  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.


    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.

            “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

            “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.


    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.


        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/

      1. I kind of automatically read “LORD” as “YHWH” or even “I AM” when I’m reading Scripture.

        1. I do the same. 🙂

  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.

    2. Dave—I agree. I preach through Psalms every summer and consult a number of translations. CSB always feels dry. NIV2011 does the Psalms incredibly well. They are beautiful, accurate, worshipful. Overall, I think NIV2011 is my favorite English translation of the Psalms. It’s what I’ve used most as I preach them. But, like you, I’m checking out CSB more!

  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)

  28. Hi Marg,

    I just got the ‘Fire Bible’ any thoughts on this ? It’s from a AG press I think. I’m guessing the tone would be egal….

    1. Hi Traci, FireBible is a Study Bible written from a Pentecostal perspective. It is not a translation as such. FireBible is an update of the Full Life Study Bible which was first published in 1991 by Zondervan.

      FireBible published by Life Publishers is available in English translations I like the least: KJV, MEV, NLT, and ESV. These translations are not at all egalitarian. It is also available in translations of other languages. Life Publishers, in Springfield Missouri, is connected with the Assemblies of God.
      More information here: https://www.firebible.org/why-firebible/

      Then there’s FireBible which is available in the NIV and KJV translations and published by Hendrickson. There’s more information here: https://biblebuyingguide.com/hendrickson-kjv-fire-bible-review/

      Which translation did you get?

      1. What a shame that a supposedly egalitarian denomination — the AG — would choose patriarchal translations for their study Bible.

    2. On another forum we have been discussing how many of the more egalitarian groups like the Assemblies and Foursquare, have “backslidden” into soft complementarianism. They still believe in women in ministry but may argue for limitations, or have radical views about “authority” and “spiritual covering” by men or husbands. I’m working on a project of reviewing study Bibles for what the notes say about women, but I haven’t gotten a hold of the Fire Bible yet, which I am HIGHLY interested in because I went to an AG Bible College. (Someone has promised to send me a copy.) And because I found the Spirit Filled Life Bible to be atrocious, which was both shocking and disappointing! (But Grudem was a co-editor.)

      These are the places that I check and comment on, so you might want to do this and form your own opinion about how it scores. (I haven’t found any study Bibles yet without howlers, although some do better than others.) Some of the passages are about authority, because I think the demonic spiritual covering doctrine and weird views on the authority of clergy factor into peoples views on women, especially the idea that women can’t have “authority over” men in the church. (According to Jesus, none of us has “authority over” others in the church! That includes men. And apostles. ) Heb 13:17 is usually mistranslated by inserting the word “obey” in the verse when it means “allow yourself to be persuaded by.” Etc…

      Gen 3:16
      Mat 20:25
      Mat 23:8
      Acts 22:9
      Rom. 16
      1 Cor. 11
      1 Cor. 14:34
      Eph. 5
      Col 3:18
      1 Tim 2:12
      Titus 2:5
      Heb 13:17
      1 Pet 3: 1-7
      1 Pet 5:5

      Huldah- 2 Kings 22

      1. I’ve been part of, or associated with, the Assemblies of God in Australia for about 35 years. My husband has been part of the AG since he was a small child. I’ve only seen egalitarian churches in the AG, now called Australian Christian Churches in Australia. Most hold to a form a male headship. In many AG churches, this male headship is relatively benign, but in others, it is potent.

    3. In my review of the Fire Bible it did quite well, and much better than most on equality of all believers and what it said about women. However I assume it quite follows Assembly of God doctrine, including typical Pentecostal beliefs on speaking in tongues as the initial evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and dispensationalism views of eschatology, so be aware of that, and that there are plenty of more nuanced views on such things. But at least it talks about the gifts of the Spirit being for today. My reviews are mostly confined to how a study Bible speaks about women and about submission and authority in general.

    4. This is my review of the Fire Bible from an equality perspective.

      The Fire Study Bible-ESV
      Larger print study Bible, has black and white in-text maps, less extensive notes, cross references in a column in the ditch. Pentecostal and dispensational. This Bible comes in many different versions. It is a solid option for those who agree with or are open to the theological presuppositions, because there isn’t any women bashing and there is support for women in ministry. Also strongly against authoritarianism.

      Gen 3:16 “Desire” interpreted to mean Eve’s stronger desire to please her husband, not to control him. Nothing said about “he will rule over you.”
      Miriam: In Ex 15 “Miriam is called a ‘prophetess’ because she was directed by God’s Spirit to deliver a message from God to the people.”
      Deborah: “Deborah was a prophetess, gifted with the ability to hear messages from God. She served God by communicating his desires and instructions to the people.” No discussion of her as a judge.
      Huldah: She is barely mentioned in the notes.
      Esther: No blame on Vashti, nothing creepy about Esther.
      Mat 20:25 “In God’s kingdom greatness is not measured by authority over others, but by serving people.”
      Mat 23:8 no notes

      Mark 10:42 “True greatness is not a matter of leadership, authority, ability or high personal achievement.”

      Luke 22:25 Most extensive discussion of these or related verses that I have seen in a study Bible. All good, including that true greatness is being great in faith, humility, godly character, self-control. No specific mention of not exercising authority over others, though.

      Acts 18:26 no notes

      Act 21:9 no notes

      Rom. 16 Note on Phoebe said she probably delivered the letter and was “a deacon –an assistant to the minister.” There was no “the minister” (i.e. “pastor”) in the early church. It goes on to say she ministered to the poor, sick, and needy; indeed probably what “deacons” did, but how do you know that definitely from this verse? She probably carried the letter and read it to the church. Goes on to say that women filled “important roles of service” in the churches. No other notes about the people greeted.

      1 Cor. 11 Lots of notes but no careful exegesis of the text, just general ones about tradition, modesty, following cultural differences between men and women. Defines ‘head’ in terms of proper relationship between men and women “as established by God.” But is careful to emphasize women’s equality, honor, and respect, and that submission does not imply control or oppression. “The husband must recognize the worth God places on the woman, and he is to take responsibility to protect and lead in such a way as to allow his wife to fulfill her God-given roles and responsibilities in the home, the church and all of life.” Goes on to talk about Christ not being inferior to the Father and servanthood being key to greatness in the Kingdom. “Leadership is never connected to being greater.”

      1 Cor. 14:34 Ties the interpretation to women being uneducated and needing to not be disruptive. Says Paul is not forbidding them to pray or prophesy (and refers to Chapter 11) or to teach that they cannot be ministers or “hold positions of authority in the church.” It doesn’t explain how that conclusion was arrived at. Even if we agree with you, that doesn’t mean you get to just make pronouncements about your opinion! This was a common egalitarian interpretation in times past, supported by experiences on the mission field in cultures with uneducated women, but there are other more probable interpretations now, such as that Paul was quoting the Corinthian letter to him and then negating their opinion of women.

      Eph. 5 “Head” is interpreted to mean leader, but this Bible has more extensive notes on mutual submission in the church and home and more emphasis on the husband’s duties to love and care than any other Bible I’ve seen. “Every family must have a leader” ignores the stats that show that mutual decision- making leads to much less divorce than when the man is expected to make the final decision or be the tie-breaker. Happy marriages are almost always functionally egalitarian ones.

      Col 3:18 Notes just refer you to Ephesians 5.

      1 Tim 2:12 Previous to this is a huge long section of notes about sexual modesty in dress, showing a total lack of awareness that the passage is about economic modesty – not being ostentatious with wealth, except for a short note at the end. Ignores vs 12 but tackles vs 13 as “Paul’s argument for man’s responsibility as head and spiritual leader in the home and church. based on God’s purpose in creation.” But mutual submission is also mentioned again. Then long notes about how woman’s highest fulfillment is motherhood, but the last note points out unmarried women can devote themselves more fully to God’s purposes. Good point, but it kind of negates your odes to marriage and family.

      Titus 2:5 No mention of older women (or woman elders) teaching what is good, but more long notes on how being a good homemaker is God’s plan for women.

      Heb 13:17 The ESV wrongly says to “obey your leaders.” The notes say your loyalty is first to God in personal relationship, then to the local church if it is faithful, last to any leaders as long as they are faithful. Which is much more balanced notes than most Bibles have here.

      1 Pet 3: 1-7 Wives must submit, influence and remain loyal to their husbands. Extensive notes also on the husband respecting and sacrificing for his wife, and must never abuse her physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Clearest denunciation of abuse I have ever seen in interpretive notes, and avoids the common nonsense about ‘physical abuse is the only real abuse.’

      1 Pet 5:5 No notes on being subject to elders, but long note on being clothed in humility. Previous notes emphasize not being power-hungry.

      1. Pheobe was an assistant to the minister? And what word do they think Paul would use for the minister? Diakonos means “minister.” It’s Paul’s favourite word for a minister; he is the only New Testament author to use the word this way and he is consistent with its use.

        More precisely, a diakonos in Paul’s letters is “an agent with a sacred commission” and Paul applies this word to several ministers. As well as Phoebe, Paul applies the word to himself (Rom. 15:25; 1 Cor. 3:5; Eph. 3:7; Col. 1:23, etc), Timothy (1 Tim. 4:6), Epaphras (Col. 1:7), Tychicus (Eph. 6:21–22; Col. 4:7–9), Apollos (1 Cor. 3:5), and even Jesus Christ (Rom. 15:8).

        “Deacon” is a later, narrower, sense of the word.

        More here: https://margmowczko.com/was-phoebe-a-deacon-of-the-church-in-cenchrea-part-1/

  29. I’m surprised that you prefer CSB to NIV2011. I’ve recently really warmed up to NIV2011. Even though I do find CSB to be a bit more accurate/literal and there’s a lot that I like *about* it, something about it hasn’t quite captured me. I really respect and appreciate your insight here, though. Thank you!

    1. I like the NIV 2011, but I definitely prefer the CSB. There are a few passages where the NIV just doesn’t cut it. One passage that really disappoints me is 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. Paul uses the same Greek verb three times here to silence three groups of people, but the NIV translates this same verb three different ways so that the similarity and connection between the three groups of people is lost.

      I read the New Testament in Greek, but I need to quote it in English in my articles. So I look for the translation of a verse I’ve quoted that most closely says how I read the Greek. Once the CSB was included on Bible Gateway and Bible Hub, I discovered that the CSB consistently matches how I read the Greek, more so than other translations. Often it matches word for word how I read and translate a particular verse. I feel like a kindred spirit has translated the CSB, apart from a few verses. I’ve never felt this about the NIV. So now I use the CSB for the automatically higlighted texts on my website. That’s how much I like it. But I strongly dislike the CSB Study Bible.

      1. I appreciate you pointing out the verb in 1 Cor 14. I have found this to be true in other passages as well. CSB is more formally equivalent than NIV and therefore makes it easier to spot these kinds of parallels and repetitions (which can be very important!).

        My primary hesitation about using CSB has been what you pointed out. Most of their study resources are complementarian and theologically limiting. I worry that recommending the translation may lead folks to these resources. (On a side note, have you looked at the Fully Updated and Revised NIV Study Bible? It is an excellent resource! I’ve recommended it to a few people.)

        Alas, as you’ve mentioned, there is no perfect translation. I will likely continue to ping-pong between NRSV, NIV2011, and continue dipping my toes into CSB all while consulting the Greek and Hebrew. I’m grateful for your insights!

        1. The NRSV has been my favorite translation for the last few years and I use it in partnership with the NIV 11. Recently I’ve been disappointed to find that the NIV translates Yahweh Sabaoth as Lord Almighty instead of Lord of Hosts or God of Heavenly Armies like every other translation. I also Don’t like that the NIV often translates Chesed (the covenantal love of God) as simply “love” when most translations translate it as “steadfast love”. The NIV also doesn’t use the word “soul” very often but instead uses “life or body”. Again I love The NIV but those are some of my chagrin’s.

        2. I’ve been reviewing study Bibles for what they say about women. The new NIV study Bible and the CEB study Bible says some pretty bad and inaccurate things at Gen 3:16 that the old HCSB study Bible does not. I’m sure the reverse is true in other passages. So the divide between egalitarian and complementarian when looking at actual study Bible notes is far from cut and dried. Some you would expect to have a more egalitarian bias have real howlers, and the vanguard complementarians can sometimes be surprisingly gracious. Also the notes frequently contradict each other in the same study Bible, I guess because each book and article is farmed out to a different scholar. I haven’t found a study Bible yet that was 100% good or 100% awful, and the more notes there are, the more likely to be problems, but they all do seem to be trending towards more sensitivity towards women, with even the complementarian ones stating flat out that Paul was not “silencing ” women. I hope to live long enough to see a study Bible that gets all the clobber passages right.

        3. Thanks, Drew. I haven’t seen the new NIV Study Bible. I like the CEB Study Bible and stay clear of the CSB Study Bible. 😉

  30. So I really fell in love with the HCSB after only using the NKJV for years. The flow of language choice spoke to me. (I never liked the NIV because of too loose dynamic translation.) I loved that they used Yahweh in the OT sometimes.

    So how different is the update to CSB, really? It made me so angry that they ditched Yahweh that I haven’t even touched it. And I bought a couple more HSCB’s on clearance. But I read recently that they actually quietly made it more gender accurate and inclusive where appropriate, after howling at others like the NIV for doing that years ago. (LOL!) Should I let go of my prejudice and try it? After all, no other major printed translation has God’s name either…maybe someday…I don’t know why we can’t at least just print YHWH in the OT. Tradition is so dumb sometimes…sigh.

    1. The HCSB is an improvement on the NKJV in terms of gender inclusivity, but I just don’t like it for some reason, whereas I love the CSB.

      I’ve already made a few comments about the HSCB above: a couple in response to your previous comments, one in response to Russ’s comment, and one in response to Ashley’s.

      I don’t know enough to say any more on this, but I’ll repeat this point: The HCSB rendered YHWH as “Yahweh” in only 656 of 6,000+ occurrences of YHWH in the Hebrew Bible.

  31. Would you mind explaining your problems with The Voice? I only recently became aware of it, and thought the aims were nice, so how do you think they missed the mark? I respect your knowledge and opinion. Thanks.

    1. Hi Angela, maybe I’ve been a bit too tough. The people who produced The Voice were clear with their aims and have achieved them. So I appreciate their integrity.

      The Voice just doesn’t appeal to me and a few lines really irk me. Jesus’s words to the Samaritan woman, for example, sound curt and cold. He sounds unlikeable! And the nuance in this comment about her makes me angry: “Meanwhile, because one woman shared with her neighbors how Jesus exposed her past and present …”

      As another example, there are too many extra and unnecessary words in the first few verses of Romans 16. Why even mention tent-making here? Paul doesn’t mention it. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+16%3A1-5&version=VOICE

      The Voice is not for me.

    2. Yeah, I have noticed some too traditional commentary at times. Sigh.

  32. Hi Marg,

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on N.T. Wright’s Kingdom New Testament, if you’ve read that. I haven’t read it yet. I’m curious to know how he translates the passages that patriarchists misuse to restrict women in ministry and marriage. God bless.

    1. Hi Jenna, I have The Bible for Everyone (N.T. Wright translated the New Testament) but I’ve been using it mostly for the Old Testament.

      The New Testament from this book is available on Bible Gateway. I don’t know how different it is from his earlier “Kingdom” translation. But I will say that I’m disappointed with his interpretation and rendering of 1 Timothy 2:11-15. I strongly dislike it! I much prefer the more literal CSB.

      1. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge, Marg!

  33. Your addendum critique of the NASB 2020 regarding Junia needs to also be recognized and critiqued in the CSB. It is a clear place where the all-complementarian translation team show their hand

    1. Hi Danny, It’s nice to hear from you.

      I’ve just edited this comment about the CSB in the article: “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, 7; 2 Tim. 2:2; 2 Pet. 1:21; Jas 3:1).” (I added a 7.)

      I think this suffices for now, though I might change my mind later. As I keep using the CSB, I’ve noticed that it uses the word “man/men” a few times when “person” or something similar would have been fine.

      What annoys me about the NASB is that they had “outstanding among the apostles” when Junia was a guy, but they changed it when they corrected her gender. I used the previous edition of the NASB for my reftagger, but changed it to the CSB when the new edition of the NASB came out.

      I believe the inclusive (“among”) sense fits Paul’s context best in Romans 16:7. (I’ve written about this here.)


    I’ve heard some good things about the First Nations Version which was published by Intervarsity Press in 2021 and touted as “A New Testament in English by Native North Americans for Native North Americans and All English-Speaking Peoples.” From the little I’ve seen, it has an interesting and compelling style, and it has been recommended by some people I admire. However, some verses have a patriarchal bent. And it’s far from a precise translation. Here’s a small sample of verses with my comments.


    Wives, listen to and follow the loving guidance of your husbands, for this is a good thing in Creator’s sight. [20 words]

    Compare the padded, and paternalistic, words of the FNV with this accurate translation.

    Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. [12 words]

    There is no phrase in the entire Bible that says wifely submission is a good thing. Let alone, a good thing in God’s sight! Wifely submission was a concession to Greco-Roman culture with mutual submission being the ideal.

    In Colossians 3:18 a Christian wife’s submission is limited; she does not need to do things that are unfitting as a Christian.

    On the other hand, when it comes to the obedience of (grown) children, Paul says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right/ just (dikaios)” (Eph. 6:1). In Colossians 3:20 he adds, “… for this pleases the Lord.” Nothing like this is said about wifely submission in the Bible!
    More here:https://margmowczko.com/household-codes-power-not-gender/

    1 CORINTHIANS 14:34-35 FNV

    During our sacred gatherings, wives should remain silent, for they are not permitted to speak out of place. They should remain under the guidance of their husbands, as our Sacred Teachings tell us. So then, if they have any questions, they should ask their husbands at home, for it is a shameful thing for a married woman to speak out of place during our sacred gatherings.

    I dislike that the Greek word nomos is translated as “Sacred Teachings” here when it may simply refer to a custom or perhaps a Roman regulation. There is no sacred teaching in the Hebrew Bible (or early Greek translation) that says women are not permitted to speak but should be in submission (1 Cor. 14:35). The Hebrew Bible contains no instructions, or even encouragements, for women to be silent or submissive.
    More here: https://margmowczko.com/interpretations-applications-1-cor-14_34-35/

    And there is nothing in the New Testament about women being under the guidance of husbands. Husbands aren’t even mentioned in 1 Corinthians 14:34. (They are mentioned in the next verse.) Verse 34 simply says that wives should “be submissive,” meaning they shouldn’t be unruly or disorderly. But the FNV make it sound as though wives being under the guidance of husbands is, or should be, a Christian norm.

    1 TIMOTHY 2:15 FNV

    But women will be kept safe through the pain and labor of childbirth if they keep walking a sacred path of trust, love, and self-control.

    The mistranslation of 1 Timothy 2:15 is one of my pet peeves, and here the plural “women” is incorrect. As mentioned in the article, the verb is singular: “she will be saved.”

    Here is a more accurate translation:

    “Yet she [a woman] will be saved through childbearing if they [probably a married couple] continue in faith, and love, and holiness with moderation (1 Timothy 2:15).

    I doubt the pain of labour in childbirth is what Paul was referring to. And I don’t like how the FNV has handled hagiasmō (“holiness”) which they translate as “sacred.” Holiness is one element in a list of three that includes faith and love. It’s not an element that governs faith and love and self-control/ moderation which is what the FNV has.
    More on this verse here: https://margmowczko.com/chastity-salvation-1-timothy-215/

    ROMANS 16:7 FNV

    I send greetings also to Victory Man (Andronicus) and Younger One (Junia), my fellow Tribal Members and fellow prisoners, who have a good reputation as message bearers. They walked with the Chosen One before I did.

    Andronicus and Junia are renamed in the FNV according to the etymology of their names. However, Greco-Romans, like most modern westerners, didn’t usually think of a name as significantly representing the character of a person.

    Andronicus is called “Victory Man” (even though “Andronicus” was usually a slave name), and Junia is called “Younger One” (even though “Junia” indicates she may have been a freedwoman from the gens Iunia). The disparity of meaning between “Victory Man” and “Younger One” is striking.

    What their names might actually indicate is that both Andronicus and Junia may have been freed slaves of the imperial household.

    Also, Paul didn’t say “I send greetings.” Rather, he seems to be asking the different Christian factions in Rome to greet each other, perhaps for his sake. (The “greet” verb is second person plural aorist imperative middle.)

    Romans 16.1ff FNV

    In this screenshot of Romans 16:1-4a we see that both Phoebe and Prisca and Aquila are called “sacred servants” even though different Greek words meaning “minister” (diakonos) and “coworkers” (synergoi) are used. And “Priscilla” is the nickname, not “Prisca.” The etymology of the names that I’ve seen are fairly accurate. Poor Paul is continually called “Small Man.”

    1 TIMOTHY 2:9 FNV

    In the same way, I want the women who pray in the sacred family gathering to wear clothes that represent them well. They should dress in a modest and respectful manner. There is no need to try to look better than others with fancy hair, or with gold, pearls, or clothes that cost too much.

    I’m not sure about the expression “to wear clothes that represent them well” but I do like that this translation mentions prayer.
    I’ve written about the inclusion of the idea of prayer in 1 Timothy 2:9 here:

    1 TIMOTHY 3:1-5 FNV

    “Guidelines for Spiritual Leaders”
    1 It is a true saying that anyone who desires the solemn task of watching over the sacred family desires a good thing. 2 Elders like this must be free from accusation, faithful in marriage, clear-minded, self-controlled, honorable, welcoming to strangers, and able to teach others. 3 They must not be heavy drinkers, nor given to violence, but gentle peacemakers who are free from the love of possessions. 4 These elders must guide their own families in a good way, having children who are respectful and well-behaved. 5 For if they cannot guide their own families, how will they take care of Creator’s sacred family?

    This passage is rendered in a completely gender-inclusive way.
    I have more on this passage here.

    Joseph Wartick has done a review on the FNV and he tells me there are lengthy explanatory notes on 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 about how they are traditions “most likely not for all times, cultures, and places.” Joseph’s review is here: https://jwwartick.com/2022/01/17/fnv/

  35. Thanks!

  36. Any thoughts about children’s bibles? I was given a children’s Living Translation as a child which was very readable, but I have discovered is terrible just looking at Genesis. I recently purchased a copy of the NIrV, but I’ve never found the NIV easy to read. It definitely tries to bring some things down to teh child’s level, but I think it adds too much in spots. As far as I can tell it doe clean more egalitarian, but in other verses it adds a little too much explanation of that make sense. I see CBE lists the children’s CEB version and the children’s NRSV. The fact that the CEB says it was put together by individuals from 24 different faith traditions give me pause-does it include LDS, Jehovah’s Whitnesses? it’s not clear.

    1. Hi Elizabeth, I don’t know about Children’s Bibles. However, it is highly unlikely that the CEB Children’s Bible used people from fringe Christian movements. I have the CEB Study Bible, and all the translators and contributors are from mainstream and evangelical traditions. I trust it.

  37. Hi Marg: I appreciated your review of Bible translations, and have moved to the NRSV and CEB over the last few years. The church I am currently going to uses the CEB, and I was glad to see that you trust this version. I agree with your assessment that the ESV has a gender bias, and this is why I don’t use it, although a lot of people in my former church seemed pretty smitten with it. One of the verses that rankled in the ESV for me was Genesis 3:16, where their main translation choice says, “Your desire shall be CONTRARY to your husband … ” In checking on Bible Gateway, there is no other version that translates this verse that way; they all use words like “for your husband.” This sounds like overt anti-female editorializing to me, but I don’t think I’ve seen anyone else address this. At any rate, thank you for your blog–I always learn something when I read it.

    1. Hi Donna. Yes, the ESV’s translation of Genesis 3:16b is pretty bad.

      ESV: “… Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”

      I also dislike the NET and NLT.

      NET: “… You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you.”
      NLT: “… And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.”

      These translations have been influenced by Susan Foh’s paper “What is the Woman’s Desire?”, The Westminster Theological Journal 37 (1974/75): 376-383. I critique some of her ideas directly and indirectly in a few articles. https://margmowczko.com/tag/susan-foh/

  38. Since the ESV is a hot topic now, I thought I’d share this article by Sam Perry with you. https://academic.oup.com/jaar/article/89/2/612/6308111

    It’s obvious that slavery was perfectly fine in the Old and New Testaments. Gentiles could be traded like cattle and be passed on as property with no rights. Even Jesus assumes disobedient slaves are physically beaten (Luke 12:47–48) and obedient slaves should expect no thanks for rendering their forced service (Luke 17:7–10). Isn’t that sinful exploitation? Paul never once said Christian masters shouldn’t have slaves, never called it sin either, instead he tells slaves to submit to brutes. And yet you’re pretending that Paul doesn’t approve of slavery and patriarchy? Stopping slavery and patriarchy and ensuring human rights was never a top priority in God’s nation, neither is it now, so it’s silly to say women are free now: egalitarianism has no grounds, you’re whitewashing the text.

    1. Hello, Robert. I read this paper for the first time only a couple of days ago. It astonished me that the ESV makes a point of softening and obfuscating the word “slave/s” in their translation.

      I don’t pretend, but I do see things in the Bible that you perhaps haven’t. Here are some things I’ve seen.

      Regarding human rights, a repeated message in the Bible is justice and care for the disadvantaged. Here is a small sample of relevant passages: Exodus 22:21-23; Deuteronomy 10:17-19; 15:1-11; Psalm 68:5-6; Jeremiah 7:5-7; Zechariah 7:9-10; Malachi 3:5; 1 Timothy 5:3-4; James 1:27. And there are stern, even terrifying, warnings for people who do not care for oppressed and poor people.

      Here is a small sample of verses that specifically refer to slaves and their treatment: Exodus 21; Leviticus 25:35-55; Deuteronomy 5:14-15; 12:12, 18; 15:12-18; 23:15-16; 24:72 Kings 14:25-27; Jeremiah 34:8-10 (cf. Jeremiah 34:11, 16); 1 Corinthians 7:21-23, 12:13; Galatians 3:27-29; Ephesians 6:5-8; Eph. 6:9; Colossians 3:11; 22-25; Col. 4:1; Phlm. 1:14-18 (cf. Matthew 10:24-25, Matthew 20:26-28).

      Note that Paul uses the Greek word isotēs in Colossians 4:1. The 1881 Revised Version of this verse reads: “Masters render to your servants what is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.”

      A couple of verses addressed directly to slaves in the New Testament occur in passages where various groups of Christians are asked to abide by first-century Roman norms for the sake of the reputation and message of the fledgling church (e.g., 1 Tim. 6:1; Tit. 2:8-10; 1 Pet. 2:18-25).

      And Paul includes “slave-traders” in one of his vice lists (1 Tim. 1:9-11 cf. Exod. 21:16).

      Jesus taught using illustrations and parables that his first-century audience could relate to. And a few times he mentions slaves. It is estimated that as many as one-third of the first-century Roman Empire, which included Judea and Galilee, was made up of slaves. Jesus assumes disobedient slaves are physically beaten and that slaves weren’t usually thanked for their service because that was the grim reality. That’s how it was. And yes, it is sinful exploitation. (We should note that Jesus was often provocative and used hyperbole in his teaching.)

      Slavery, like warfare, polygamy, and patriarchy, are far from ideal, but they were a fact of life in the ancient world. The Bible regulates against the worse excesses of these social dynamics. Today, we are better able to act collectively to abolish these things as well as hunger, poverty, and corruption which often leads to slavery, warfare, and polygamy.

      The Bible sees slavery as a bad thing, and in Deuteronomy, there is a repeated reminder to the Israelites to remember the sorrow and hardship of their slavery in Egypt so that they will not treat other people the same way. See here: Bible Gateway. This kind of reminder also occurs occasionally in other books of the Hebrew Bible.

      Christianity is about freedom for captives and all oppressed people trapped in darkness. This includes slaves.

      “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
      because he has anointed me
      to proclaim good news to the poor.
      He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
      and recovery of sight for the blind,
      to set the oppressed free,
      to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
      Luke 4:16-21 cf. Isaiah 61.

      I don’t pretend, but I do acknowledge that there are people intent on keeping other people down. This is not God’s way.

      1. Only the Israelites mattered, Gentiles didn’t. Kidnapping was banned, but not gentile slave-trade. Israel could kill and conquer and enslave gentiles like David. Israel was just saved from Egypt but now gentile slavery cannot be stopped? Beating slaves was allowed in the OT. ALL slavery is bad so what is the worst excess? God saved Israel so they were equipped to stop it, just like stopping child sacrifice. The funny thing is that if you delete this comment, you’re doing more to stop something than the law did to stop slavery, but you can go ahead, perhaps I’m wrong.

        1. Robert, I don’t know you and you don’t know me. The disrespect you are showing me is uncalled for. I have a different take on the scriptures than you, but I’ve replied to you in good faith and with civility.

          I agree that all slavery is bad. We are in agreement here. And I had no intention of deleting your previous comment, but the way you’ve raised this idea is petty and manipulative.

          If you read the links I shared, you’ll see that resident aliens and runaway slaves, that is Gentiles, mattered and were not to be abused. However, the Israelites did take gentile prisoners of war as slaves. But, again, there were laws regulating against the worst excesses.

          David is hardly the poster boy for good or just behaviour. David’s raids and his treachery towards Achish, who was protecting him, are particularly appalling (1 Samuel 27). There’s a reason God didn’t want David to build the temple.

          Some of the verses I shared should answer your other questions. And I’m not going to deal with hypotheticals.

          If your intention is to rant about the evils of slavery and show disrespect, you’ve come to the wrong place. Please keep any further comments on-topic and polite, or, as is the usual practice on blogs, they will be deleted. People coming to this page, come because they are interested in reading about English Bible translations. They are not interested in mean-spirited, angry comments about slavery which help no one.

          1. It’s strange that someone can murder innocent people and the only punishment is not building a temple. Strange how christians are shocked that Americans used the Bible to enslave us when Israel did it also. The same zionist mentality is killing innocent Palestinians, but at least international laws exist now to protect them from the Christians who fund the murderers.

          2. Robert, I hope you find a productive way to channel your passion for this justice.
            Venting your anger and being disrespectful on someone else’s blog is not the way to go about it. It’s counterproductive.
            Goodbye, Robert.

  39. A quick question: How does the CSB handle the pronouns and probable idioms in the “elders qualifications” passages in 1 Tim. 3 and Tit. 1, particularly in comparison to, e.g., the CEB and CEV?

    1. Here’s 1 Timothy 3:1-7 for comparison.

      CSB: … “If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.” 2 An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not an excessive drinker, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy. 4 He must manage his own household competently and have his children under control with all dignity. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and incur the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the devil’s trap.

      CEB: … if anyone has a goal to be a supervisor in the church, they want a good thing. 2 So the church’s supervisor must be without fault. They should be faithful to their spouse, sober, modest, and honest. They should show hospitality and be skilled at teaching. 3 They shouldn’t be addicted to alcohol or be a bully. Instead, they should be gentle, peaceable, and not greedy. 4 They should manage their own household well—they should see that their children are obedient with complete respect, 5 because if they don’t know how to manage their own household, how can they take care of God’s church? 6 They shouldn’t be new believers so that they won’t become proud and fall under the devil’s spell. 7 They should also have a good reputation with those outside the church so that they won’t be embarrassed and fall into the devil’s trap.

      The CEV is similar to the CEB with plural pronouns and “faithful in marriage/ faithful to their spouse” for the husband-of-one-wife idiom. (I think the NRSV captures the meaning of “husband-of-one-wife/ wife-of-one-husband” best.)

      All three English translations have made compromises. In the oldest surviving Greek manuscripts, there are no personal pronouns in this passage. This is fine for Greek–that’s how Greek works–but we need pronouns for natural-sounding English. Since, in this passage, “anyone” (tis) and “overseer” (episkopos) are singular, and since the verbs and participles are singular, it is fair and reasonable that the CSB uses singular pronouns. Unfortunately, English doesn’t have non-gendered singular pronouns when speaking about people, so it has gone with masculine pronouns.

  40. Hello Marg, thank you for all your attention and thoughtfulness. I’ve read your blog and comments dating back to 2016 (WOW!!!)… Two questions:

    1. Are you still most in favor of CSB or does the sometimes, awkwardly inclusive language of 2021 NSRV work just as well now. ASIDE: I guess I need to determine what matters more to me right now: Having a gender-neutral or feminine inclusivity or every Bible word accuracy?

    2. What are you thoughts on the Holy Bible Feminine Translation Version (FTV)? This is a write-up I’m reading: https://religionnews.com/2021/11/11/the-holy-bible-feminine-translation-version-seeks-to-end-biblical-misogyny/

    1. Hi Roz, the CSB is still one of my very favourite English translations. The NRSV is a respected translation but I don’t like the style. I rarely use it. And I don’t think the updated NRSV is an improvement overall.

      For example, the last phrase of Ephesians 5:23 is awkward: “for the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” And I dislike that that the NRSV continues to use the words “be subject,” rather than “be submissive,” in some verses about Christian relationships (e.g., Eph. 5:21-24 NRSV). I actually dislike how the NRSV translate several verses.

      But, thankfully, they now have the word “not” in the correct place in 1 Timothy 2:12. The previous NRSV rendering of 1 Timothy 2:12 was terrible!

      To clarify, I’m not interested in gender-neutral or feminine-inclusive translations. I want gender-accurate translations of the Bible.
      And so, I’m not interested in the FTV.

  41. Hi Marg,

    I was just wondering how you feel about this article, because to me this woman is saying that the Bibles you say have more accurate translations are more in the middle category and not as accurate. https://www.chapter3min.org/bible-translations-comparison-charts/

    Please let me know what you think.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Megan, The author of this article seems to think that “word-for-word” translations, which she describes as “essentially literal translations,” are more accurate than “thought-for-thought” translations. I think this distinction between “word-for-word” and “thought-for-thought” is mostly unhelpful.

      Word order in Greek and Hebrew works differently than word order in English, and there are many phrases in the Hebrew Bible and Greek New Testament where the meaning suffers if we try and force them into a “word-for-word” English translation.

      Apart from the CEB, which is only depicted in one graph, and midway between “thought-for-thought” and “paraphrase,” the others I recommend are roughly midway between “thought-for thought” and “word-for-word.” This is a good place to sit. (I think the CEB has been situated too far right in the graph. I love the way it expresses some meanings and breaks free of less-accurate traditional readings.)

      The ultimate goal of any translation, but especially the Bible, is to convey meaning accurately in a way that can be readily understood by the majority of readers.

      The four translations the author recommends, the NASB (especially the recent edition), ESV, KJV, and NKJV, I do not recommend as a person’s main Bible. The author of the article states, “These four versions do the best job of accurately translating the words and meaning of the original languages.” My observation, however, is that these four versions are not the most accurate when it comes to translating the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek texts into comprehensible contemporary English.

      But like her, I do not recommend The Passion Translation (which is too weird) or the Amplified Bible (which is misleading). The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson is fine as long as people treat it like a paraphrase and don’t use it for their every-day Bible.

      1. Thank you for the response, Marg. I’ve been going through a really rough patch of trying to figure out what to believe. I was raised Lutheran, but I either wasn’t taking the actual Bible seriously or I just didn’t understand it as a kid. I say this because in my junior/senior years of high school we began having more in depth bible studies and I started realizing how much the actual Bible scared me and there were so many things that I couldn’t face. It made me angry at God and terrified, so my brilliant solution was to just avoid God and religion for as long as possible. I thought as long as my family loves God, it will be okay because then I knew even while I struggled with faith (to the point of pretend agnosticism) that they would be okay and eventually I’d come back to God. This wasn’t really the best long term plan especially since I felt like God was stalking me for several years. But I adjusted to this weird worldview I had until 2020 when I sort of fell into a type of secular legalism. That’s a whole other story, but it basically ended up with me trying to figure out my relationship with God and religion again. Spoiler alert: it didn’t go well and I ended up shutting down for another couple of years until a few months ago when I just couldn’t take it anymore. Since then I’ve pretty much just been in an obsessive loop of misery. My point being that my default is to read the Bible like how I would imagine someone in the handmaidens tale would read it and all of the different opinions on the internet haven’t exactly helped because it’s either people acting like God is your little pocket buddy or it’s people saying any diversion from a “literal” reading is distorting the word of God etc. Basically the more extreme it is, the more I believe it to be true because that’s how the Bible sounds to me. The translation definitely matters. I apologize, I’m having a hard time explaining things and I’m rambling, but thank you for doing so much research and thank you for responding.

        1. Hi Megan. Accurate English Bible translations is a subject I’m passionate about. It definitely matters! And that’s why I don’t recommend the ESV and the other 3 versions recommended in that article. They are no more “literal” that the CSB, for example. And the ESV is just terrible in some verses, as I’ve shown in the article.

          How we approach the Bible matters too. We need to recognise that it is made up of ancient documents written to ancient communities that are utterly unlike ours: they had different cultures, different politics, and different values and customs. These ancient documents were written for a variety of reasons for various audiences who were experiencing issues that are often different from ours.

          It can be difficult, but we need to try and understand what each book or letter meant to the original audience before we try to apply verses to our lives in the 21st-century.

          The Bible is a treasure and, guided by the Holy Spirit, we sometimes need to dig before we can work out what bits are timeless truths and principles and what bits were addressing local customs and concerns. I actually love this about the Bible. I love thinking deeply and wrestling with scripture and theology.

          We need the Holy Spirit, but we also need to read and apply the Bible with kindness and commonsense. This means being kind to ourselves as well. God is love, after all.

  42. Oh dear one, start by getting the Big Picture overview and meditate on the fact that God loves us as a Father and wants a close loving realtionship with us, and for us to love each other well. Like a good Father, He gets angry when someone hurts and abuses another person, or abuses people in His name. The “greatest commandments” are Love God, love your neighbor.

    Try the Bema Podcast, the book From Eternity to Here by Frank Viola, and his podcast Christ is All, and blog Beyond Evangelical. A really encouraging grace filled devotional might be good too. Focus on His love for you.

    I probably wouldn’t even read the Bible alone right now in the state you seem to be in, except Ps 23, which you can try turning into prayer in your own words. But you can look things up in your Bible that are referenced in the above resources. The Lord led me to read only Psalms for a LONG time while I was de-toxing from legalism and an abusive marriage. I benefited greatly and now I can study again without it being toxic.

    1. Thank you, Angela. I appreciate you providing those resources and giving me some comfort. I’m so sorry you had to go through what you did, but I am very glad to hear that you’re in a better place now in your journey. Again, thank you.

      1. You are very welcome. I hang out in a lot of survivor spaces and try to encourage people and undo some of the damage I participated in promoting out of ignorance.

  43. Hi, I’m Charlene. I grew up in a pseudo-Christian “bible-based” cult so I have experienced misuse and abuse of the bible. A wonderful resource for those recovering from spiritual, religious, and/or bible abuse is BeEmboldened.com and Reclamation podcast, founded by Naomi Wright, a licensed counselor, who grew up in a polygamous pseudo-Christian cult. She is definitely gospel-centered and God has given her a lot of wisdom, gentleness and understanding. I participate in her mentoring program and it is helping significantly. She has articles on her website and offers mentoring or counseling, individually or in groups. I am praying for you both, Megan and Angela.

  44. I’m looking for a new every day reading study Bible. Currently have an older NIV (from 90s) Ryrie Study Bible and reading the notes on 1 Tim 2:8 recently made me want to throw up. (Women have to be silent because eve ate the fruit, dontcha know)

    So from what I’m reading from your comments- you like the CSB but not the study Bible, but you like the CEB study Bible? I am most familiar with NIV, so if there was 2011 study version that wasn’t so patriarchal? Suggestions?

    For the last 10+ years I’ve landed in egalitarian churches, but still didn’t like the women preaching really, mainly because that’s what I was always taught. Now I’m learning some things and rethinking everything related to gender hierarchy etc.

    Sort of blowing my mind reading your blog and Beth Allison Barrs new book.

    Thank you for all your research !

    1. Hi Susannah, I’ve heard the CSB Study Bible published by Baker is good and not patriarchal, and I’ve seen some excerpts from it that look good.

      If you want to stick with the NIV, the editors of the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible are egalitarian and/or egalitarian-friendly.

      I hope having your mind-blown is a mostly positive and happy experience. Shalom!

  45. Marg, this is terrific information. Thank you for sharing it with us. I am amazed at your patience in responding to comments. I would love to hear your thoughts on the Berean Standard Bible. It appears to be an intriguing mix of retaining the tradition male pronouns while taking a mutualistic approach to passages the directly address women in ministry or in the home.

    1. Hi Don, I use Bible Hub quite often, so I’ve seen how the Berean Standard Bible translates certain verses, but nothing has really stood out one way or the other. I’ve never chosen to cite a verse in the BSB because I thought it was well-rendered. Rather, the translation seems mediocre.

      Just now I looked at 1 Timothy chapter 2 and there are few verses I think could be translated better.

      In 1 Timothy 2:5, a verse which I look at in the article, the BSB has “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” even though it translated the previous occurence of anthrōpos, with the adjective pas (exact forms: πάντας ἀνθρώπους), inclusively as “everyone” in the previous verse, 1 Timothy 2:4.

      The BSB acknowledges in a footnote that the man and woman in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 may be husband and wife, which I believe is likely, but it translates authentein as “to exercise authority over” which is an inadequate translation. (I’ve written about authentein here.)

      In verse 15 it adds the plural word “women” to the singular verb which means “she will be saved.” This is a huge no-no for me! The BSB acknowledges in a footnote that it should read literally as “She, however, will be saved,” not “Women, however, will be saved” which is what they have in the main text.

      The BSB seems to me to be lacklustre English translation.

      1. Thanks for the reply and for your insights.

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