Marvin Olasky

"Person," "ancestor," and "they" are three of the gap-fillers, but this translation sometimes maintains the role of the individual (Psalm 1 begins "Blessed is the one," not "Blessed are they") and sometimes doesn't (Psalm 146:5). The most-criticized retranslated verse is 1 Timothy 2:12. The CMBW notes that virtually every translation, whether traditional or modern, has Paul writing that in church a woman is not to "have" or "exercise authority" over a man—but the new NIV has "assume authority." Critics argue that readers may conclude women can be pastors as long as they don't engage in a power grab.

A second set of critiques concerns tone-deafness: For example, the famous Psalm 23 metaphor about "the valley of the shadow of death" now reads, "Even though I walk through the darkest valley. . ." Ugh! In the new NIV "mankind" happily beats out "humankind," but the translation also mixes singulars and plurals, as in "Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect" (James 3:2b). The translators defend their choice by writing that many people use sentences like, "The person who eats too many hot dogs in too short a period of time is likely to become sick to their stomach." That sentence makes me sick to my stomach.

I'm not a fan of the new NIV but don't have room to mention some other beefs—and in fairness I should note some improvements. In Esther 5:14, Haman builds not a gallows but a pole on which to impale Mordecai—and that's indeed how Persians killed their enemies. Philippians 4:13 now reads, "I can do all this through him who gives me strength"—the "this" refers to contentment in all circumstances—rather than "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." And Zondervan CEO Moe Girkins deserves credit for an improved process—but she should now make sure that the old NIV stays in print so its fans can replace worn-out copies.

Marvin Olasky

Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief of the national news magazine World. For additional commentary by Marvin Olasky, visit
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