Let's examine what the TNIV actually says to see if it can be used to teach complementarianism. We'll compare what the TNIV says to the ESV. Some complementarians claim that the ESV promotes a biblical view of manhood and womanhood while the TNIV does not. Following are some key tenets of complementarianism, with Bible passages typically used to support them:
1. A husband is the head of his wife (Eph. 5:23):
For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. (TNIV)The TNIV and ESV teach headship of the husband identically in Eph. 5:23.
For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. (ESV)
In 1 Cor. 11:3 the TNIV actually translates about headship of a woman more strongly than does the ESV:
But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. (TNIV)The TNIV translates the Greek words gunaikos and aner of this verse as "woman" and "man," respectively. This is more literal and a broader (stronger) translation than the ESV which translates these Greek words as "wife" and "husband," respectively. The more restrictive translation of "[the head] of the wife is her husband" is footnoted in the TNIV but not found in the translated text itself.
But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. (ESV)
2. A wife is to submit to her husband as to the Lord (Eph. 5:22):
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. (TNIV)The TNIV and ESV teach the same thing about submission.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (ESV)
3. Woman is the glory of man (1 Cor. 11:7):
A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. (TNIV)
For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. (ESV)The TNIV and ESV not only have identical teaching in this verse, but identical wordings of "but woman is the glory of man."
4. Women are to be silent in church (1 Cor. 14:34-35):
Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. (TNIV)Again, the teaching is identical between the TNIV and ESV, and the wordings are nearly so. Neither is stronger than the other in what it states.
the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. (ESV)
5. Women are not to exercise ecclesiastical authority over men or to teach men (1 Tim. 2:12):
I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. (TNIV)Again, the meaning of the translation wordings from these two versions is identical, as far as I can tell. I don't think a case can be made for any significant difference in meaning between the two wordings "assume authority" or "exercise authority."
I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. (ESV)
The TNIV and ESV both make it clear that Jesus was a male, not some androgynous human. Both versions refer to God with masculine pronouns. Both versions retain the biblical language text wording of God the Father, rather than as generic God the Parent.
As far as I know, those who accuse the TNIV of being a feminist translation or being influenced by feminism cannot support that claim from how passages traditionally used to teach complementarianism are worded. The TNIV is an accurate translation and does not deserve the criticism it has received from its opponents. It does not deserve to be boycotted by Christian booksellers who seem to believe its critics rather than being Bereans (Acts 17:11) who study the Bible (or any translation of it) carefully for themselves to find out if what people claim about it are true or not.
Categories: TNIV, complementarian