"Gender Inclusive" – Is the KJV "Gender Inclusive"?

The KJVO supporters usually criticize the TNIV and NRSV on the grounds that they use ‘gender inclusive’ language – yet the KJV promoted that venue long before those versions were thought of. Granted, the KJVO does not go far enough in translating gender all that well, but it is interesting to note that they did allow for some less than literal translations. The goal of this article is to show that some of the criticisms leveled against the newer versions can be found to be equally leveled at the KJV.

“Gender Inclusive” Part 1
Is the KJV “Gender Inclusive”?

By: Brian Tegart


“Gender Inclusive” is the practice of translating some phrases and words, that in the original languages are gender specific, in a way that does not exclude the gender not mentioned, due mostly to context. It is NOT changing God into a she, or anything like that. It IS a form of “dynamic equivalence”. For example, in this verse the KJV is NOT using a gender inclusive approach:

Matthew 4:19 (KJV) “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

A gender inclusive translation of this verse might use the word “people” instead of “men”, due to the fact that women and children are not to be excluded from the apostles ministry, but rather included despite only men being mentioned.

If however, someone used the word “its” or “her” instead of “his” in the following verse, that is NOT an example of “gender inclusive”. Rather, it would be a severe twist on who God is, based on political agenda or something similar.

Matthew 6:33 (KJV) “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Personally, I can see the stregths and weaknesses of the “gender inclusive” approach. In the NIV’s proposed gender inclusive edition (which is available in Europe), there are many instances where I think they’ve taken it too far. But I also see many other instances where a gender inclusive change would be justified.

Is the KJV “Gender Inclusive”?

Is the KJV a “gender inclusive” translation? Generally, no. But are there any instances of “gender inclusive” translation in the KJV? Yes! Here’s one example (that is not footnoted in the original 1611, or any subsequent edition I’ve seen):

Matthew 5:9 (NIV) “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”

Matthew 5:9 (NASB) “Blessed are peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Matthew 5:9 (KJV) “Blessed are peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

The Greek word in this verse is “uioi”, which simply means “sons”. The KJV translators chose to remove the genderness of the word, and use the gender inclusive “children”. (TNIV side note: The TNIV has changed from the NIV’s “sons” to “children”. Ironically, this is one of the ‘example’ verses the vocal opponents of gender inclusivenss use to discredit the TNIV. Yet not a voice has been heard about the same rendering in the KJV! Why not? Are they simply unaware, or does it reveal a deeper, dishonest standpoint? I have pointed this verse out to a few authors who used this example against the TNIV, none of which have ever responded.) But either way, the meaning is not lost. Women who read the verse in the Greek, NIV, NASB, etc (except for some strong feminists, who likely would misinterpret scripture in general anyway) would not feel that the verse only applies to men. The KJV’s use of “children” in this verse – although perfectly acceptable – is simply an example of an “gender inclusive” translation, and even an example of the practice abhored by KJV-onlies: dynamic equivalence. I am not opposed to such examples – I just wonder how a KJV-only supporter would respond to such examples of gender inclusiveness in light of “preservation of words” – in other words, how is the word “sons” ‘preserved’ in the verse above in the KJV? Certainly not the way KJV-onlies define ‘preservation’!

The following list, which is not even complete, shows several examples. And what makes these particular examples even more interesting, is that each of them were found by examining the marginal notes of the KJV translators themselves. Some examples that are debateable (ie. non-human instances such as where the KJV says “owls” and the Hebrew says “daughters of the owl”) are not included below:

ReferenceActual KJV TextKJV Translators’ Note
How The Original
Languages Read
Gen 11:3“they said to one another”“a man said to his neighbor”
Exo 18:16“one and another”“a man and his fellow”
Lev 22:12“a stranger”“a man a stranger”
Num 22:11“I shall be able to overcome them”“I shall prevail in fighting against him
Num 26:54“give the more inheritance”“multiply his inheritance”
Num 26:54“give the less inheritance”“diminish his inheritance”
Num 33:54“give the more inheritance”“multiply his inheritance”
Num 33:54“give the less inheritance”“diminish his inheritance”
Deut 3:18“all that are meet for the war”“all that are sons of power”
Deut 32:5“They have corrupted themselves”He hath corrupted to himself
1 Sam 10:11“one to another”“a man to his neighbor”
1 Sam 11:7“with one consent”“as one man
1 Sam 26:16“ye are worthy to die”“ye are the sons of death”
1 Sam 30:22“those”men
1 Sam 31:3“archers”“shooters, men with bows”
2 Sam 2:7“be ye valiant”“be ye the sons of valour”
2 Sam 13:28“valiant”sons of valour”
2 Sam 22:45“strangers”sons of the stranger”
1 Chron 12:29“kindred”brethren
1 Chron 16:19“few”men of number”
2 Chron 2:17“the strangers”“the men the strangers”
Ezra 4:1“children of the captivity”sons of the transportation”
Job 19:19“my inward friends”“the men of my secret”
Psa 12:7“them”him
Psa 18:44“the strangers”“the sons of the stranger”
Psa 29:1“ye mighty”“ye sons of the mighty”
Psa 41:9“mine own familiar friend”“the man of my peace”
Psa 119:24“my counsellors”men of my counsel”
Psa 140:11“an evil speaker”“a man of tongue”
Prov 3:31“the oppressor”“a man of violence”
Prov 11:13“A tale-bearer”He that walketh being a talebearer”
Prov 22:7“lender”man that lendeth”
Prov 28:24“a destroyer”“a man destroying”
Prov 29:10“The bloodthirsty”“The men of blood”
Prov 31:5“any of the afflicted”“all the sons of the afflicted”
Prov 31:8“such as are appointed to destruction”“such as are the sons of destruction”
Ecc 2:7“servants born in my house”sons of my house”
Isa 12:6“inhabitant”“inhabitress”
Isa 13:8“one at another”“every man at his neighbor”
Isa 22:17“mighty captivity”“the captivity of a man
Isa 44:11“they”“the men
Isa 44:12“they”“the men
Isa 44:12“them”“the men
Jer 10:17“inhabitant”“inhabitress”
Jer 13:14“one against another”“a man against his brother
Jer 20:10“all my familiars”“every man of my peace”
Jer 21:13“inhabitant”“inhabitress”
Jer 22:23“inhabitant”“inhabitress”
Jer 26:23“common people”sons of the people”
Jer 38:22“friends”men of thy peace”
Jer 48:19“inhabitant”“inhabitress”
Dan 10:21“none that holdeth”“none that strengtheneth himself
Joel 3:6“Grecians”sons of the Grecians”
2 Pet 2:14“adultery”“adulteress”


Am I saying that the above examples in the KJV are mistakes? Not necessarily. Am I saying that using a “gender inclusive” approach is always acceptable? Not really. I am saying that those KJV-only supporters that are yelling loudest against the practice of “gender inclusive” translation need to have some more facts, like the ones above. Some of the “gender inclusive” examples being slammed in other versions are exactly like some of the KJV’s examples above.

“Gender Inclusive” Part 1 – Is the KJV “Gender Inclusive”?.

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