I will not dispute their stats. I don't doubt the Greek is singular and that the TNIV is translated in the plural those times. If I understand the basic complaint with it, other than changing a masculine singular into a neuter plural, is that readers might miss personal application in some passages by mistakenly taking such passages to be applicable to a group setting. Take for example Wayne Grudem's comment on Revelation 3:20 . . .
VERSE: Revelation 3:20
NIV: I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
TNIV (2005): I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.
CHANGE IN MEANING: The idea of Christ coming into an individual person's life is lost; Christ no longer eats with “him” but with “them.” Readers may well understand “them” to refer to the plural group “those whom I love” in the previous verse, so the TNIV now pictures Christ coming into a church and eating among a group of people. The clear teaching on individual fellowship with Christ is blurred.
I like Wayne Grudem. But I think he's overstating his case. I looked up these plural pronouns in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed. MW allows for this translation of the TNIV . . .
This is the way people in the 21st century speak. I was born in 1971. As far back as I can remember, people have been using these plural pronouns in reference to individuals. It's the course that English has gone. If an antecedent is singular, the plural pronoun is acceptable in the consequent or predicate or what have you.usage They, their, them, themselves: English lacks a common-gender third person singular pronoun that can be used to refer to indefinite pronouns (as everyone, anyone, someone). Writers and speakers have supplied this lack by using the plural pronouns 〈and every one to rest themselves betake —Shakespeare〉 〈I would have everybody marry if they can do it properly —Jane Austen〉 〈it is too hideous for anyone in their senses to buy —W. H. Auden〉. The plural pronouns have also been put to use as pronouns of indefinite number to refer to singular nouns that stand for many persons 〈’tis meet that some more audience than a mother, since nature makes them partial, should o’erhear the speech —Shakespeare〉 〈a person can’t help their birth —W. M. Thackeray〉 〈no man goes to battle to be killed. — But they do get killed —G. B. Shaw〉. The use of they, their, them, and themselves as pronouns of indefinite gender and indefinite number is well established in speech and writing, even in literary and formal contexts. This gives you the option of using the plural pronouns where you think they sound best, and of using the singular pronouns (as he, she, he or she, and their inflected forms) where you think they sound best.
Merriam-Webster, Inc. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. 10th ed. Springfield, Mass., U.S.A.: Merriam-Webster, 1996, c1993.
Besides it being acceptable English in the 21st century and thus an exceptable translation, the Bible has cases even in formal translating where a plural referent is meant to be applied on an individual basis. Take the Beatitudes (from the ESV - the preferred translation of the CBMW) - emphases mine . . .
Should we conclude that none of these are applicable on an individual basis but only in a group setting because of the use of they and theirs? I don't think so and you probably don't either (and I doubt Dr. Grudem does either).4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Now while I think the TNIV did fine in Revelation 3:20, I'm not saying every time is perfect. Revelation 3:20 was fine to me because the antecedent was singular which interprets them and they as singular also in the context based on MW. In Matthew 10:24, I think the TNIV could have represented the singular more clearly. Here is the NIV . . . And here is the TNIV trying to remove the masculine term his . . .
24 "Students are not above their teacher, nor servants above their master."The subject and predicate are both plural in the TNIV. I don't know why they didn't do something like this. . .
A student is not above their teacher, nor a servant above their master.This would have done away with a masculine gendered pronoun in a teaching that obviously applies to women also, yet it would have retained some of the singleness of the Greek by basically doing the same thing that was done in Revelation 3:20, i.e. having a singular antecedent. The NRSV and the NLT handled it more the way I just suggested by removing the pronoun and replacing it with a definite article . . .
The Message (which doesn't even pretend to be a translation - it's an extreme paraphrase) made one feminine and one masculine . . .
24 “A student is not greater than the teacher. A servant is not greater than the master.NLT 24 “A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master;NRSV
24 “A student doesn’t get a better desk than her teacher. A laborer doesn’t make more money than his boss.I would recommend that option the least. Because surely students can be male and laborers can be female, correct? And sometimes laborers do make more than the boss. Eugene Peterson could have done better on this. But let's not sidetrack . . .
However, even with the TNIV as is, I don't see any grievous crime. Whether students and servants are represented singularly or in the plural, no theology is changed by the TNIV's rendering of Matthew 10:24. I don't see any change in meaning whether we have one laborer or multiple laborers or one student or multiple students. Perhaps in other passages, theology is changed. I have yet to run across that and I would be glad to look at any that you may think change theology by doing so. I don't think Grudem's comments on Revelation 3:20 are convincing.
Bottom line . . .
- Be informed.
- Look at the issue -- from both sides.
- Both sides have multiple people who are Bible believing conservatives and complementarians (people who hold to traditional roles of men & women).
- Don't make a reactionary/hasty conclusion.
- Don't accuse either side of bad motives.
Maybe that will change. If so, I need to hear better arguments from those who have problems with the TNIV. Meanwhile, I will keep carrying around the TNIV along with my ESV (and my NIV, NASB, KJV & NKJV) as I listen to pastors and read through the Bible and compare how the TNIV reads and what impact all these points make or do not make.