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Saturday, 15 April 2006

The TNIV in John 15:26

"When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me."

The TNIV breaks from the KJV/NIV in this verse to identify Jesus' name for the Holy Spirit as "Advocate" rather than "Comforter." While this would seem a better translation into standard English of the Greek word 'parakletos,' I can't help but comment on how this verse nonetheless points out an inconsistency in the TNIV's treatment of grammatical gender.

Promotors of the TNIV would assure us that they have not, like some gender-corrected translators, given us a bible that at all diminishes God's masculinity. To quote John Kohlenburger III:

"Gender inclusive translations like the TNIV do not dabble with God language. When God describes himself as a Father or husband--or even compares himself to a comforting mother in Isaiah 66--these images are retained."

But is God exclusively masculine?

The TNIV gender-sensitizes Genesis 1:27 as follows:

So God created human beings [KJV, NIV 'man'] in his own image, in the image of God he created them [KJV, NIV 'him']; male and female he created them.

So, more blatantly than does the NIV (which is exactly the same as the NKJV here), the TNIV states that God's image was reflected in both the male AND the female that He created. So if God's image is feminine as well as masculine, what's wrong with using feminine language for God?

Obviously the Father and Son always take masculine singular modifiers in Scripture, but how about the Spirit? As the TNIV advocates point out, the Holy Spirit is grammatically feminine in the OT and neuter in the NT, yet they criticize the KJV for using neuter language in the NT for the Holy Spirit. But why in the name of gender accuracy does the TNIV translate as if the Holy Spirit is masculine instead? They would have been no less accurate in using feminine language for the Holy Spirit in the NT; even more accurate in the OT, except that there don't appear to be any OT passages where the gender of the Holy Spirit would come through in English translation.

By using masculine language in John 15:26, the TNIV makes no improvement on the KJV. And in Acts 11:15, it perpetuates the error of the NIV by inserting masculine language in reference to the Holy Spirit where the KJV has none!

The TNIV translators have tried both to produce a more accurate translation, and to avoid assigning male gender to their translation of Greek words that don't require it, but here they have once again failed at both.

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