What's Wrong with Gender-Neutral Bible Translations? (W. Grudem, 1997) (page 3)

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Author's Bias | Interpretation: conservative | Inclination: convenant

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Has English changed that much? Some may object that our language has changed so much that even the uses of the words he, him, his in generic statements, or the use of man to refer to the human race, would not be proper in English today. We have no choice, they would argue, but to use alternative expressions.

But this is not true. Consider the following examples from standard, contemporary English:

Examples of generic "he"

A student who pays his own way gets the tax credit. (USA TODAY, July 30, 1997, p. 3B, discussing the 1997 tax bill and its tax credits for college tuition.)

"Or is it when someone with a heavy accent calls up (a news organization), he tends to be dismissed more readily than someone who speaks standard English?" (USA TODAY, Aug. 21, 1997, page 3D, quoting Ted Koppel who was preparing a Nightline broadcast on claims of police brutality in New York City.)

Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment. (Reader's Digest, Sept., 1997, page 61, quoting Robert Benchley.)

If a worker tells the boss he needs time off because he is "depressed and stressed," then a "reasonable accommodation" should be made. (Reader's Digest, Sept., 1997, p. 126, quoting James Brady's summary of government regulations in Crain's New York Business.)

Wages are flat, hours are up, bosses are morons and everyone's stuffed into a cubicle -- if he's lucky enough to have a job. (Newsweek, Aug. 12, 1996, p. 3.)

During the 22 minutes an average person spends grocery shopping each week, 70 percent of his purchasing decisions are made in the store (Chicago Tribune, July 29, 1996, Sec. 4, p. 1, italics added).

A reverse mortgage can allow a senior citizen to remain in familiar surroundings for the rest of his life. (Chicago Tribune, Oct. 31, 1996, sec. 6, p. 3.)

...even if a person has gotten enough sleep, he is likely to be irritable or blue if his waking hours center on a time when his biological clock tells him he 'should' be asleep. Conversely, even if a person stays awake 36 hours straight, he may say he feels terrific if you ask him about his mood at an hour when his biological clock tells him he is supposed to be awake, findings suggest" (Associated Press dispatch downloaded from America Online, Feb 12, 1997). (There are twelve uses of generic "he-him-his" in those two sentences.)

...every college professor doesn't need to put his main energy into expanding the frontiers of knowledge. (US News and World Report, Dec. 30, 1996, pp. 45-47.)

If the person involved thinks the code has been misapplied, or that the code itself is defective, he goes to the courts for relief. (Christianity Today, May 19, 1997, p. 28, quoting Robert Bork on the American legal system.)

"If a timid person who wants to be more assertive at work takes Prozac without dealing with the issues that make him timid, the message becomes the opposite of what we try to do with therapy..." (Christianity Today, Aug. 14, 1995, p. 36, quoting Wheaton psychologist Karen Maudlin.) whom much is given, from him that much more shall be expected... (U.S. News & World Report, May 19, 1997, p. 30, in a column by Arianna Huffington.) now enables physicians to watch a patient's condition almost as if they'd shriveled themselves up ant traveled inside his body. (Chicago Tribune, Aug. 17, 1997, sec. 5, p. 1.)

...the first evidence of whether or not a person has a 'politically correct' attitude is often his use of politically correct or incorrect language... there is considerable resistance to [PC language], a good deal of it taking the form of humor or mocking.... For example, a high school student calls one of his friends who is rather short in stature 'vertically challenged'... ("Correctness in Language: Political and Otherwise," the 1996 Presidential Address of the Linguistic Association of Canada and the U.S., by Valerie Becker Makkai, published in The Twenty-third LACUS Forum 1996, ed. Alan K. Melby (Chapel Hill, NC: The Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States, 1997), pp. 5-6.)

The Cardmember agrees to use the service only for his benefit and for the benefit of members of his immediate family. ("Your Personal Benefits Guide," a terms of service brochure received from Discover Card Aug. 8, 1997, p. 14).

For example, a patient who has stabilized on an antidepressant can take months to adjust to a new medication, or he may fail completely and revert to a suicidal state. (US News and World Report, Sept. 1, 1997, p. 73.)

The latest PBM strategy is to woo the pharmacist himself -- a practice that druggists fear could undermine confidence in their profession. (US News and World Report, Sept. 1, 1997, p. 71.)

A student should also make a habit of coming home, emptying his backpack in a certain location and figuring out exactly what schoolwork has to get done that night. (Chicago Tribune, Sept. 7, 1997, Sec. 13, p. 8).

"...when you buy a new customer with a check, you've bought a temporary customer who will jump when he gets another check from someone else." (Chicago Tribune, Sept. 9, 1997, Sec. 3, p. 3.)

Even The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual (1994) directs, "use the pronoun his when an indefinite antecedent may be male or female: A reporter attempts to protect his sources. (Not his or her sources...)" (p. 94).

Major dictionaries all recognize generic "he," not as archaic but as current English. The definition of "he" as a pronoun that is "used to refer to a person whose gender is unspecified or unknown" is given in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, third edition (1992), p. 831. Similar definitions are found in Webster's New World Dictionary, third college edition (1994), p. 820; the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, second edition, revised (1993), p. 879; Webster's Third New International Dictionary, unabridged edition (1981), p. 1041, and Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, tenth edition (1995), p. 534. Sample sentences include, "He who hesitates is lost," "No one seems to take pride in his work anymore," and "One should do the best he can." There is no dispute over whether such generic usage is understandable in ordinary English today.

When we come to recommendations for how people should speak and write today, there is simply no consensus. The American Heritage Dictionary (1992) polled the 173 members of its Usage Panel of experts in the English language on how to complete a series of sentences such as, "A patient who doesn't accurately report ____ sexual history to the doctor runs the risk of misdiagnosis." In their responses, an average of 46% of panel members used forms such as "his or her" or "her/his" (this statistic combines several forms), 37% used "his," 3% used "their," 2% used "her," 2% used "a" or "the," and 7% gave no response or felt no pronoun was needed, and a few gave other responses. But if 37% of these experts (the largest for any one specific response) continued to use "his" as their most preferred word in these sentences (and many more would have said it is acceptable but not preferred), then no one can rightly claim that generic "he, him, his" is improper English today. In spite of about 30 years of discussion, no substitutes have gained general acceptance.

Examples of "man" used to designate the human race, or human nature generally

When we turn to the question of "man" used to designate the human race, or human nature in general, again there are many examples in current written and spoken English:

For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad. (Reader's Digest, Sept., 1997, p. 61.)

"Early Man's Journey out of Africa" (U.S. News & World Report, Nov. 27, 1995, p. 18, headline).

[Jewish talk show host Laura Schlessinger was] "reading in Genesis about the covenant between God and man." (U.S. News and World Report, July 14, 1997, p. 51.)

After showing how a new navigational system lets a driver avoid a traffic jam caused by turtle migration, the commercial says that "man has finally caught up with nature" (October 12, 1997, television commercial for new car navigation system from Phillips.)

"In the future, the greatest threat to our survival will not come from man....." (camera shows giant insects invading the earth). (August, 1997 movie preview for the movie Starship Troopers.)

"Somewhere between the law of the wild and the nature of man lies... The Edge." (August, 1997, movie preview for the movie The Edge (starring Anthony Hopkins as billionaire lost in frozen wilderness.)

Clean air and ozone obey no man made boundaries. (Chicago Tribune, May 12, 1997, p. 1 headline.)

[vitamin deficiencies] can be remedied by replacing the dwindling bodily resources with man made substitutes. (Chicago Tribune, May 19, 1997, sec. 1, p. 8.)

The contest for supremacy between man and machine may in fact be the dominant struggle for the Air Force in coming years. (US News and World Report, Sept. 29, 1997, p. 24).

The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual (1994) says of the terms "man, mankind" that "Either may be used when both men and women are involved and no other term is convenient" (p. 120).

Once again current dictionaries support this as a current meaning. The American Heritage Dictionary (1992) gives the meaning "the human race; mankind," and says, for example, that 81% of its usage panel of experts approved the sentence, If early man suffered from a lack of information, modern man is tyrannized by an excess of it, and 86% approved the use of the word "man" in the sentence, The Great Wall is the only man-made structure visible from space. Similar definitions of "man" to mean "the human race" are found in the Random House Unabridged Dictionary (1993), p. 1116, Webster's New World Dictionary, third college edition (1994), p. 820, and Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, tenth edition (1995), p. 705.

Someone may object, "But these are not very common anymore." I agree that such expressions are somewhat less common than they used to be, but that does not mean we should avoid them in translation. All major English Bibles use numerous expressions that are much less common than these, but understandable, and necessary for accurate translation. The question is, "Does the English language today, as understood by the vast majority of its adult speakers, have "he-him-his" as a generic pronoun? And does it have the word 'man' to designate the human race?" The answer to both questions is clearly and certainly yes.

What if some women feel excluded? Another objection is, "Some women Bible readers feel excluded by such generic uses of she, him, his' and by the use of man' to name the human race, etc." Here we have two alternatives: (a) we can change the translation to something less accurate in response to these women's feelings, or (b) we can retain the accurate translation and explain that such language in fact is not exclusive if understood correctly -- to say it is exclusive is to misunderstand it.

How do we know such expressions do not have an "exclusive" meaning? Because the original author did not intend such an exclusive meaning, the translators did not intend such a meaning, and that is not the meaning the words have when interpreted rightly in their contexts, contexts which give abundant clues that broader senses are intended. This is just another instance of something Christians do all the time -- explain the meaning of the text to those who are misunderstanding it. We must not choose alternative (a), however (changing the translation to something less accurate), because it distorts the translation, and because once we do this there will be hundreds of others who will say they feel excluded by calling God "Father" and calling Christ "Son." Will we change the translation again because of these objections?

Now someone might respond that some readers will misunderstand or be confused by generic "he." But this possibility does not compare with the certainty that all readers will misunderstand the meaning if "he" is changed to "you" or "we" or "they" where the original Greek or Hebrew text does not have those words or convey those meanings.

Of course, we must admit frankly that there are powerful forces in the larger culture (including style manuals imposed on students in various universities) that are saying "he, him, his" and "man" cannot have those inclusive senses. They tell us we cannot use these words in ways they have previously been used, even if we want to. However, we must not give in to such pressures in Bible translation, for the ability to translate God's Word accurately is at stake.

Moreover, we must remember that modern style manuals give recommendations for writing our own new compositions, an activity different from the translation of ancient documents that already exist. In accurate translation, I am not at liberty to rewrite what another person said. For example, in my own writing I may decide to say, "If people are sick they should call for the elders," but when I find that James said, "Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him" (Jas. 5:14), I am not at liberty to change his singulars to plurals and say, "Let them call for the elders of the church and let them pray over them." I may not even like the fact that James used singular pronouns, but that makes no difference whatsoever to my task of translation. The fundamental question here is honesty in translation. If the sentence we are translating cannot be expressed accurately in English without using singular pronouns in a generic way, then we must still use he, him, his in translating Scripture.

But shouldn't we let Bible scholars decide this question? Some people may think that this whole matter is a technical question that we should let Bible scholars argue about, not a question Christian lay people should be involved in. I disagree with this idea. In most of the verses I have discussed, Bible scholars agree on the meaning of the Hebrew or Greek texts. In no verse quoted above does the discussion turn on intricate and highly advanced details of Hebrew and Greek. Rather, the question is really about English. Which English expressions best translate the meaning that is there in the original? Is generic "he" understandable and proper English today (as in the examples above)? Is the word "man" an understandable and proper name for the human race (as in the examples above)? Does a change from "he" to "you" or "we" or "they" distort the meaning or not? Everyone who speaks and writes English can contribute legitimately to that discussion, and can come to an informed decision on it. That is why the decisions of whole churches and whole denominations are significant in this matter: these are people who speak and write English, and many of them understand very well what the issues are, and consider this an important issue for preserving accurate translations of the Word of God. Individual Christians, along with individual churches and denominations, will ultimately decide this issue, because they will decide which Bible translations they will buy and use. Scholars of course should have a role in the discussion, but it is also possible for scholars to become too isolated in the academic world and lose a "large picture" perspective, even on the state of the English language itself.

Are most Bibles today gender-neutral? It is important that the larger Christian public not be misled into thinking that gender-neutral Bibles are "inevitable" or are "the wave of the future." Some incautious statements have implied just this. For example, one article said, "Most Bibles today render gender-specific terms such as he or men with more accurate terms, such as they and human beings, when translators believe the text warrants it" (Christianity Today, July 14, 1997, page 62).

At a very strict level of interpretation, this sentence is true but affirms nothing. By adding the phrase "when translators believe the text warrants it," the writer has qualified the sentence in such a way that it of course cannot be contradicted. The sentence would be true of the King James Version, the New American Standard Version, the New King James Version, the Revised Standard Version, or the present NIV. It is true that translators of those versions changed "he" or "men" to "they" or "human beings" whenever they "believed the text warranted it," which was never. But the sentence is still true, because it said they did it when they believed the text warranted it.

In this way, the sentence is similar to the sentence, "Most Bibles today call God Mother when translators believe the text warrants it." The sentence is not false, but it fails to mention that the translators never in fact think that the text warrants it.

But that is not the level at which most readers will understand the sentence, or in fact the level at which the sentence was probably intended. Read more quickly, the sentence simply affirms that "most Bibles today" replace "he" and "men" with the gender-neutral terms "they" and "human beings." If the sentence is taken in that way, it is difficult to understand how such an assertion could be substantiated.

Recent Bible sales figures show that the NIV is the largest selling English Bible, with 35%-45% of the market, and it is not gender-neutral. In approximate numbers, the KJV accounts for another 25% of the market, and the NKJV another 10%, and they are not gender-neutral. When we add the substantial sales of the NASB, along with the New American Bible (a Roman Catholic version that accounts for 6%-10% of the market), Bibles that are not gender-neutral have over 80% of the market for English Bibles sold today. As this current controversy over gender-neutral Bibles becomes more broadly known to the Christian public, I believe most Christians and most churches will decide not to accept gender-neutral Bibles, and then the market share held by Bibles that are not gender-neutral may well reach over 90%. In any case, it is simply not true that most Bibles sold today use gender-neutral language.

Should we translate according to how we predict the language will change? At this point someone may agree that English has not changed that much yet, but may say, "The language is changing whether we like it or not, and generic he-him-his' will not exist in 5 or 10 more years." This claim should be recognized for what it is: an unsubstantiated prediction of the future which cannot be proven. In fact, several factors argue against this prediction. English stylist William Zinsser, in On Writing Well, fifth edition (1994), says, "let's face it: the English language is stuck with the generic masculine" (p. 123). The current American Heritage Dictionary (1992), concludes a long discussion on generic "he" with this prediction: "The entire question is unlikely to be resolved in the near future" (p. 831).

The reason that people who speak and write English resist abolishing generic he, him, his is that there are times when clear and accurate writing requires the use of a third-person singular pronoun with the person's sex unspecified or unknown. Zinsser says, "A style that converts every 'he' into a 'they' will quickly turn to mush.... I don't like plurals; they weaken writing because they are less specific than the singular, less easy to visualize" (pp. 122-123). And the American Heritage Dictionary speaks of "a persistent intuition that expressions such as everyone and each student should in fact be treated as grammatically singular" (p. 831).

Three professional linguists have told me they knew of no human language that lacked a singular pronoun that was used generically (in some languages it is a masculine singular pronoun; in others, a neuter singular pronoun). Therefore, people who predict that English will soon relinquish generic "he, him, his," when there is no commonly agreed singular substitute, are predicting that English -- perhaps the most versatile language in history -- will lose a capability possessed by all major languages in the world. This is highly unlikely.

In fact, people who predict that English will lose generic "he" need to explain why they think English will become different from all other human languages that have a singular pronoun (not just a plural one like "they") that is used generically.

In any case, we should not base present translations on uncertain predictions of what the language will be in the future. Predictions of the future have a surprising way of turning out to be wrong.


I have talked to several people who worked on translating some of these gender-neutral versions, and I realize that many of them do not have "feminist" convictions or share the goals of "egalitarians" or "evangelical feminists." However, I am not sure if people realize how much our language itself has been under pressure to conform to "politically correct" patterns of speech that were first demanded by feminists in the 1960s and are now demanded by other interest groups as well. Moreover, the preface to the NRSV explains exactly what led to these changes: It was a requirement from the National Council of Churches to eliminate "masculine-oriented language." And the preface to the NIVI explains that they thought it appropriate at times "to mute the patriarchalism of the culture of the biblical writers." Those who protest that these gender-neutral changes in Bible translation are only for purposes of clarity and proper use of English today have not fully taken into account these fundamental statements of translation goals expressed in prefaces of these translations. Certainly there was some desire to mute the masculine-oriented language of the Bible as originally written in Hebrew and Greek, if these sentences have any meaning at all.

But we should all agree that another factor was also involved, the desire to use contemporary English that is clear and understandable to readers in general. As I have noted throughout this paper, not all of the changes due to perceived changes in English have been objectionable, and some (such as saying "any one" instead of "any man" where the original is not gender-specific) have been improvements.

However, we should not assume that modern language trends are always morally and spiritually neutral, so that Christians should meekly follow these trends or even try to keep one step ahead of the latest fad. The attempt to eliminate "man" as a name for the human race is not neutral, but conflicts with the male-oriented name 'adam that God gave the race in Genesis 1:27 and 5:2. And the attempt to do away with "he" as a generic pronoun -- especially if no other singular pronoun is widely accepted -- would make the accurate translation of most generic singular statements in Scripture impossible.

Some style manuals imposed on students today tell them to avoid generic "he" and rewrite their sentences in other ways. Of course people can rewrite their sentences with plurals, or change to the second person, or clutter them with "he or she," but then the sentences say something different and they sound different and their meaning is different. But if the author does not want to say the "something different," but wants to use a pronoun to say something that is brief, uncluttered, specific and individualized, then a generic third person singular pronoun is needed. Since "he" is the only recognized English word that functions that way, if "he" is ruled out, the result will be that the would-be rulers of the language will have told us that there are certain things that we cannot say. We are permitted by them to say something similar, something related, something that sounds nearly the same, but we cannot say precisely what we want to say. It is not surprising that wise writers have resisted such a mandate, for if this kind of rule should ever prevail, the English language would be impoverished, and our thought would be impoverished.

The pressure to conform to "politically correct" speech is primarily a pressure not to use certain expressions. But when our freedom to use certain expressions is taken away, then our ability to think in certain ways is also curtailed. For example, if all generic singular statements are removed from the Bible, then the ability to think of a representative individual who stands for a whole group will have been removed -- for we will have no words in which to formulate our thought. There will be no way to say, "If any one loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him" (John 14:23), and thus there will be no way to think of that precise idea. Restricting certain types of expression is restricting certain types of thought.

George Orwell understood this well in his novel 1984. One of the government functionaries who is rewriting the dictionary explains what is really happening when he revises English into the Newspeak that is required by Big Brother:

You think, I dare say, that our chief job is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We're destroying words -- scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We're cutting the language down to the bone.... It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well... Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thought crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.... Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller.... (pp. 45-46).

We must not quietly acquiesce to every modern trend in language, nor should we feel powerless before these trends. The evangelical world as a whole also has an influence on the language. Bible translations in particular have historically had a major impact on their own languages, and still have much influence today. The Bible is still the most widely read book in the English language, and retaining generic "he" in Bible translations will also help protect our ability to use this precise translation in future generations.

This will not be the last time that trends in the culture bring pressure to bear on the language and pressure to bear on Bible translation. Already the CEV has removed another supposed source of modern "offense," because it changes "the Jews" to "the people" or "the crowd" in passages where they oppose Jesus, as Matt. 28:15; John 10:19, 31; 18:31; 19:7, 12. And one prominent reviewer of the NRSV complained that it had not gone far enough, because it "makes not the slightest gesture toward minimizing masculine pronouns for God," and he calls this "the single deficiency of the NRSV which is of such magnitude as will render it in its present form unusable for many believers" (Burton H. Throckmorton, Jr., "The NRSV and the REB: a New Testament Critique," Theology Today 47:3 (Oct., 1990), p. 286).

We must realize that such pressure to change the text of Scripture to conform to certain trends in the culture will be relentless, and it will be applied to every Bible translation, and it will not be satisfied merely with the kinds of changes in the NRSV. If evangelical translators and publishers give in to the principle of sacrificing accuracy because certain expressions are thought to be offensive to the dominant culture, this altering of the text of Scripture will never end. And then readers will never know at any verse whether what they have is the Bible or the translator's own ideas.


I realize that some Christians will object to the fact that I have even written this pamphlet or raised this issue. Isn't this just "fighting over all the wrong issues"? Why do Christians have to differ with each other over these matters?

I have written this because I do not think this is an issue that should be swept under the rug. The Southern Baptist Convention, the Presbyterian Church in America, and the Conservative Congregational Christian Churches passed resolutions this summer (1997) opposing "inclusive language" Bibles, because they knew this was an important issue. The accuracy and integrity of many words of Scripture are at stake, and these are the very words of God.

When I read the NRSV, I wonder what has happened to the reverence for every word of Scripture that was so common in the church in previous generations. The words of Scripture are not ours to tamper with as we please. In the second century, Marcion tried to remove from Scripture all the sections he disagreed with. The Jehovah's Witnesses have a special translation that changes a few key words to suit their doctrine. Now we have an NRSV that does a very similar thing in order to eliminate "masculine language" from thousands of verses of Scripture. When it does this, it unnecessarily distorts the meaning of the Word of God. And so do the other gender-neutral versions (CEV, NCV, NIVI, and NLT) that follow its precedent.

Dr. Wayne Grudem is professor of Biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois, President of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and Vice President of the Evangelical Theological Society. He has a B.A. from Harvard, an M.Div. from Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, and a Ph.D. in New Testament from Cambridge University, England. Appendix: Colorado Springs Guidelines

In recent controversies over gender-neutral Bibles, Christians have begun to wonder which Bibles they can trust to translate gender-related language accurately.

Here are some guidelines recently endorsed by Christian leaders who agreed that "it is inappropriate to use gender-neutral language when it diminishes accuracy in the translation of the Bible." These guidelines were written at a meeting convened by Dr. James Dobson in Colorado Springs on May 27, 1997.

If you want to know what Bible translations you can trust, one place to start is to ask your Christian book dealer or your pastor if your translation meets these guidelines. Several widely-used translations already meet these guidelines, including the NIV, NASB, RSV, KJV, and NKJV.


A. Gender-related renderings of Biblical language which we affirm:

1. The generic use of "he, him, his, himself" should be employed to translate generic 3rd person masculine singular pronouns in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. However, substantial participles such as ho pisteuon can often be rendered in inclusive ways, such as "the one who believes" rather than "he who believes."

2. Person and number should be retained in translation so that singulars are not changed to plurals and third person statements are not changed to second or first person statements, with only rare exceptions required in unusual cases.

3. "Man" should ordinarily be used to designate the human race, for example in Genesis 1:26-27; 5:2; Ezekiel 29:11; and John 2:25.

4. Hebrew 'ish should ordinarily be translated "man" and "men," and Greek aner should almost always be so translated.

5. In many cases, anthropoi refers to people in general, and can be translated "people" rather than "men." The singular anthropos should ordinarily be translated "man" when it refers to a male human being.

6. Indefinite pronouns such as tis can be translated "anyone" rather than "any man."

7. In many cases, pronouns such as oudeis can be translated "no one" rather than "no man."

8. When pas is used as a substantive it can be translated with terms such as "all people" or "everyone."

9. The phrase "son of man" should ordinarily be preserved to retain intracanonical connections.

10. Masculine references to God should be retained.

B. Gender-related renderings which we will generally avoid, though there may be unusual exceptions in certain contexts:

1. "Brother" (adelphos) should not be changed to "brother or sister"; however, the plural adelphoi can be translated "brothers and sisters" where the context makes clear that the author is referring to both men and women.

2. "Son" (huios, ben) should not be changed to "child," or "sons" (huioi) to "children" or "sons and daughters." (However, Hebrew banim often means "children.")

3. "Father" (pater, 'ab) should not be changed to "parent," or "fathers" to "parents" or "ancestors."

C. We understand these guidelines to be representative and not exhaustive, and that some details may need further refinement.


The following verses illustrate the guidelines for translation of gender-related language in Scripture. For Guideline A1 (first sentence): John 14:23; Rev. 3:20; (second sentence): John 3:18. A2: Psalm 1:2; 34:20; Gal. 6:7; James 5:14-15. A3: See guidelines for examples; also Psalm 90:3. A4: Hebrew: Psalm 1:1; Greek: Acts 20:30; 1 Cor. 13:11. A5 (first sentence): Matt. 12:36; (second sentence): 1 Cor. 15:21; 1 Tim. 2:5. A6: Matt. 16:24. A7: Gal. 3:11. A8: John 12:32. A9: Psalm 8:4; Dan. 7:13. A10: Matt. 6:9; John 3:16. B1: Matt. 18:15. B2 (first sentence): Gal. 4:7; (second sentence): Exod. 19:6. B3: Gen. 48:21. (This list of verses was not part of the original signed statement.)

Affirmed at a meeting at Focus on the Family Headquarters, May 27, 1997 (and revised Sept. 9, 1997), by:

Ken Barker, Secretary, Committee on Bible Translation; Member, Executive Committee of Committee on Bible Translation

Timothy Bayly, Executive Director, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood; Pastor, Church of the Good Shepherd, Bloomington, Indiana

Joel Belz, Publisher, God's World Publications

James Dobson, President, Focus on the Family

Wayne Grudem, President, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood; Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Charles Jarvis, Executive Vice President, Focus on the Family

John Piper, Member, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood; Senior Pastor, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Vern S. Poythress, Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Westminster Theological Seminary

R. C. Sproul, Chairman, Ligonier Ministries

Ron Youngblood, Member, Committee on Bible Translation; Professor of Old Testament, Bethel Theological Seminary West

These guidelines have also been endorsed by Gleason Archer, Hudson Armerding, Clinton E. Arnold, S. M. Baugh, Alistair Begg, James Montgomery Boice, James Borland, Bill Bright, Vonette Bright, Harold O. J. Brown, Bryan Chapell, Edmund Clowney, Robert Coleman, Charles Colson, Jack Cottrell, Jerry Falwell, John Frame, W. Robert Godfrey, Jack Hayford, H. Wayne House, Elliott Johnson, Peter Jones, Mary Kassian, D. James Kennedy, George W. Knight III, Andreas Kostenberger, Beverly LaHaye, Tim LaHaye, Gordon R. Lewis, Robert Lewis, Erwin Lutzer, Richard L. Mayhue, R. Albert Mohler, Jr., J. P. Moreland, Joel Nederhood, J. Stanley Oakes, Stephen Olford, J. I. Packer, Dorothy Patterson, Paige Patterson, Dennis Rainey, Pat Robertson, Adrian Rogers, Paul Sailhamer, Robert Saucy, Jerry Vines, John Walvoord, Bruce Ware, Stu Weber, William Weinrich, David Wells, John Wimber

Resolutions opposing "gender-inclusive" Bible translations were also passed in the summer of 1997 by the Southern Baptist Convention, the Presbyterian Church in America, and the Conservative Congregational Christian Churches.

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