TYLER, TX (KLTV) - It's the world's most popular version of the best selling book and it's changing...again.
"Leave it alone," said Pastor Jerome Milton, a church leader for 23 years. "Stay where you're strong. Stay where the word of God is."
Today's NIV or TNIV translation, published in 2005 tried to update the current NIV translation. But, gender changes weren't welcomed by evangelicals. For example, verse 1:26 in Genesis reads, "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image,' in the NIV. The TNIV replaces it with, "Then God said, 'Let us make human beings in our own image.'" It's a one word change, some say is too much.
"When you start changing words and you start generalizing man and women and you start generalizing gender, it changes everything...God is trying to say in his word," said Milton, who has relied on the NIV to give his congregation the clearest message.
"If you change that, you change the whole meaning of the text," said Milton. "You change the whole meaning of the passage."
Bible publisher Zondervan says bible translators have proposed 1,200 changes drawing from the accepted 1984 NIV and more recent TNIV translation. They are revisions they hope make an older text easier to understand, rather than mislead.
"The NIV that people love and they should love is a wonderful Bible but it's 25 years old and, quite frankly, we don't talk to the way we used to," said James Vine, with Zondervan. "Most of the changes that will be made have nothing to do with gender they're passages where in the old version it said Paul got stoned, well Paul wasn't smoking marijuana. In today's language that's what it means. They're changing those type of passages."
"We might be in the 21st century, but the same God of the 1st century is the same God of the 21st century and we should not give ourselves license to reinterpret it," said Milton.
Not hitting shelves for at least another year, publishers say 90% of the 1984 version will remain, leaving church leaders hoping and praying.
"I feel good about what I'm hearing but I will tell you my biblical theological jury is still out," said Milton.
It's a change of words that hopefully avoids a change of heart. The Committee on Bible Translation says its revision of the updated NIV should be complete by late next year. The updated NIV will hit shelves in 2011, marking the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.
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