Gender in the Updated NIV
According to the translators’ notes for the updated (“2011”) NIV, “every single change introduced into the committee’s last major revision (the TNIV) relating to inclusive language for humanity was reconsidered.” This is in keeping with an announcement the translators made in 2009.
Some people were concerned about this, because they were afraid the translation committee might reverse some of the progress the TNIV made in preserving gender accuracy.
From the quick look I took today, it seems that the gender-neutral translations for humanity have largely been preserved.
For example, the phrase ashrei adam appears six times. In all six places, the TNIV had “those” for adam, an update from the 1984 “man” in five out of six of the instances.
In half of those cases (Psalm 32:2, Psalm 84:16, and Proverbs 28:14), the NIV2011 changes “those” to “the one,” while in the other half (Psalm 84:6(5), Proverbs 3:13(12), and Proverbs 8:34) the newer version retains “those.” I think it’s unfortunate that ashrei adam now enjoys two translations in English, but I think the more important point is that the gender neutrality was preserved in the new NIV.
Likewise, Psalm 1:1 with its similar asrei ha-ish is now “one.” It was “those” in the TNIV, and “man” in the older NIV84.
In Psalm 147:10, surprisingly, the NIV translators chose “warrior” for ha-ish. I think it’s a mistake, but it still demonstrates a commitment to gender accuracy in translation.
On the other hand, for Matthew 4:4 (ouk ep’ arto zisetai o anthropos), the NIV2011 reverses a decision made by the TNIV, reverting to “man” (which is what NIV84 had) for anthropos: “Man shall not live on bread alone.”
This is confusing. Unless the translators think that “man” is gender inclusive, the translation is wrong. But if they do think that “man” is inclusive, it’s not clear why they didn’t use it elsewhere.
We find the same thing in Matthew 12:35: “A good man [anthropos] brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man [anthropos] brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” The TNIV had “people … them.” Perhaps the new translators, having abandoned “people” for the singular anthropos, didn’t know what to do with “him” here. After all, a lot of people don’t like the “someone … them” construction. But the translators specicially claim that “them” would be the best option after “someone” (page 5 of this PDF):
The gender-neutral pronoun “they” (“them”/”their”) is by far the most common way that English-language speakers and writers today refer back to singular antecedents such as “whoever,” “anyone,” “somebody,” “a person,” “no one,” and the like.
So “a good person brings good things out of the good stored up in them” seems more consistent with the published goals of the NIV. And, indeed, this is the sort of solution they offer in Matthew 16:26: “What good will it be for someone [anthropos] to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul…?”
In Matthew 12:10-13 (which is tricky, as I describe here), we find “person” in verse 12 for anthropos, (the TNIV had “human being”; the NIV84 had “man”), even though in verse 10 it’s still “man.”
In Colossians 3:23, we see “human masters” for the plural anthroposes Again, I disagree with the editorial addition “masters,” but the translation demonstrates a willingness to leave the now-outdated translation “men” behind.
So it seems that the new NIV translation tries to preserve gender accuracy in its translation, even if in practice the translation is inconsistent and falls short in places.