In this study chart percentages indicate the degree to which that version used gender-inclusive language where it was possible to do so. For this quantified study I used many key passages in the current discussion about gender-language translation of different Hebrew and Greek terms. Here are how the different English versions rank in terms of gender-language usage in this study:
With data available only for the TNIV New Testament, the TNIV percentage was 78.4%. After including the Old Testament data the TNIV percentage moved slightly higher to 80.2%, just above the rankings for the TEV (GNT) and GW versions.
CEV 89.6% NRSV 87.7% NCV 83.0% NLT 82.1% TNIV 80.2% TEV 79.2% GW 79.2% NET 59.0% ISV 52.4% HCSB 33.0% ESV 27.4% NIV 20.8% NASB 17.1% NKJV 15.1% RSV 10.4% KJV 4.7%
Those who claim that the ESV uses less gender-inclusive language than other recently produced versions are correct. The ESV is nearly 7% higher in terms of gender-language usage than the NIV, representing translation wordings which are more accurate than those in the NIV, such as where the TNIV translates Greek tis as 'a man.' The ESV team would claim that each instance of usage of gender-inclusive language in the ESV represents gender-accurate translation. Of course, this is the same claim made by each translation team which has addressed the issue of gender-inclusive language. It is possible for someone to study each passage in my chart and decide if they agree with the gender language usage of a particular version wording for that passage.
There is an important note about translation accuracy at the top of my chart:
this study only surveys gender inclusive language usage in English English versions, not accuracy of such usage. Therefore it is not appropriate to use the results of this study as any measure of gender language accuracy in translation.Please do NOT use the results of this study to suggest that any version is more or less accurate than another. This study only measures degree of gender-inclusive language usage for the particular passages studied, and makes no statement about whether or not such usage is accurate. There is essentially 100% agreement among the versions with regard to gender language when the referent is masculine or feminine. In other words, when a specific man is referred to, he is referred to with masculine language in all versions. If a woman is referred to, she is referred to with feminine language in all versions. Differences occur when exegetes differ about whether a group composed of both males and females should be referred to with masculine (such as "sons" or "brothers") or gender-inclusive language (such as "children" or "siblings", the latter of which has not yet been used in any English versions that I know of). Differences also occur when there is potential indefinite reference in the biblical text which uses a masculine entity as a reference point, such as in the debate over whether "the man" of Psalm is:
1. literally a single masculine godly individual.Whether or not a specific passage translation wording that potentially involves gender-inclusive language is accurate or not has to be determined on a verse by verse basis, studying all the relevant facts of language usage in its context. And even then, there will be the inevitable subjectivity that comes with trying to assess whether one translation wording is more or less accurate than another. Such is the nature of human differences of opinion about exegetical decisions.
2. a single godly masculine individual who "represents" all godly inviduals
3. any godly individual, where the original text uses a masculine term for a generic reference
4. godly individuals, where the original text uses a masculine term for a generic reference
I would welcome questions, corrections, or any other comments about this study.
Categories: gender-inclusive, Bible translation, Bible versions