Let me begin by asking a simple question:
What Bible translation do you use and why?
As a pastor and wanna be theologian, I have, read, and use countless bibles and various translations in my bookshelves. Couple years ago, I made the switch to the TNIV as my primary devotional bible reading. Prior to that, I was using mostly the NIV and NRSV. Our pastoral staff (and even our denominational tribe, the ECC) also began teaching from the TNIV as part of our ongoing commitment to exegetical preaching.
I know that the TNIV is not a perfect translation. Regardless what folks may think, there is no perfect translation but like other translations I read and respect, the TNIV is a scholarly and faithful translation of the Holy Scriptures. And while no translation of the Scriptures should be held hostage to any particular agendas, I very much appreciated its willingness to take gender inclusivity as one of numerous important considerations.
Listen to what I’m saying carefully: The TNIV is not about gender inclusivity but sadly, it was pegged and even advertised as such. The TNIV is about the Holy Scriptures foremost. And while others will strongly disagree, I find it difficult for translations NOT to take into account for appropriate gender neutrality and inclusivity…which is why I was very disappointed to read yesterday that the TNIV will be abandoned and cited as a “mistake” by its publishers.
The cultural landscape of evangelicalism and mainstream Christianity can sometimes be schizophrenic. And as of late, with the increasing rise of the macho, masculine, and ultimate fighting Jesus presentation, the TNIV was immensely refreshing and encouraging – all while being scholarly faithful.
While I understand that there’s always more going on behind the scenes that contribute to the pulling of the plug, I see the following as some mistakes: Zondervan’s initial presentation of the TNIV to the public; the abysmal support from the publishers since its release and in the face of criticisms, and now, their “exit strategy” which sends some awful and mixed messages. Having said that and despite being disappointed with the unplugging of the TNIV, I am eager to check out the 2011 NIV…
In announcing a major revision of the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible, Biblica (formerly the International Bible Society and Send The Light, or IBS-STL) CEO Keith Danby said decisions surrounding the release of the NIV inclusive language edition and the 2002 revision, Today’s New International Version (TNIV), were mistakes.
“In 1997, IBS announced that it was forgoing all plans to publish an updated NIV following criticism of the NIV inclusive language edition (NIVi) published in the United Kingdom. Quite frankly, some of the criticism was justified and we need to be brutally honest about the mistakes that were made,” Danby said. “We fell short of the trust that was placed in us. We failed to make the case for revisions and we made some important errors in the way we brought the translation to publication. We also underestimated the scale of the public affection for the NIV and failed to communicate the rationale for change in a manner that reflected that affection.”
Danby said it was also a mistake to stop revisions on the NIV. “We shackled the NIV to the language and scholarship of a quarter century ago, thus limiting its value as a tool for ongoing outreach throughout the world,” he said.
“Whatever its strengths were, the TNIV divided the evangelical Christian community,” said Zondervan president Moe Girkins. “So as we launch this new NIV, we will discontinue putting out new products with the TNIV.”
Girkins expects the TNIV and the existing edition of the NIV to phase out over two years or so as products are replaced. “It will be several years before you won’t be able to buy the TNIV off a bookshelf,” she said.
“We are correcting the mistakes in the past,” Girkins said. “Being as transparent as possible is part of that. This decision was made by the board in the last 10 days.” She said the transparency is part of an effort to overhaul the NIV “in a way that unifies Christian evangelicalism.”
“The first mistake was the NIVi,” Danby said. “The second was freezing the NIV. The third was the process of handling the TNIV.”