Zondervan Publishing has been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism in recent years over its attempt to address some long overdue issues in its most popular English translation of the Bible, the NIV. The Southern Baptist Convention called a special session in 20o2 just to publicly express and codify their rejection of it. It is also rumored that some angry Bible blasters fired a shotgun at a copy of the TNIV (Today’s New International Version) and sent the remnants to Zondervan in some sort of morbid, ransom-like message to the publisher. Not only is this immature, but it is downright embarrassing for the Christian community (PS: the world loves it when we fight).
For my part, I am confident that the team that has labored on the TNIV is full of passionate Jesus followers who only want to honor the text’s meaning by improving upon the unfortunate glosses of the previous, 1984 version of the NIV. In fact, it is difficult to relate how much I appreciate the well-done translation that is the TNIV. Like the NIV, the TNIV does not aim for a literal, word for word translation from the Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek ancient texts, but rather tries to get at the heart of the meaning behind those words. Good translations that shoot for a more literal, word-for-word approach include the NASB (New American Standard Bible), and a very good compromise between the NASB and the TNIV is the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version). All three are quite excellent and trustworthy, but they take slightly different approaches in communicating these ancient texts to contemporary English readers.
That being said, the TNIV takes all of the scholarship and hard work that went into the regular NIV, and made it even more accurate in communicating the original texts’ meaning. This is most obvious in its use of gender inclusive language. For example, it oftentimes takes the gender-exclusive term like “men” and re-casts it as “people,” or interprets the Greek word for “brothers” as “brothers and sisters.” This would be a serious grievance if the original texts (in these instances) had specifically intended the male gender only, but that is not the case within the TNIV. This translation does quite well in keeping specific references to males as “men” or females as “women” when appropriate but takes great care to accurately communicate gender-inclusive terms when the biblical texts meant to include both genders. One specific example can be found in Genesis 1:27 “So God created HUMAN BEINGS in his own image…” Rather than the NIV’s “So God created MAN in his own image… .” If interpreting this as “human beings” is offensive, it’s because we aren’t paying enough attention (or worse).
Contrary to popular but misguided caricatures, the TNIV does NOT eviscerate biblical imagery for Jesus as a man, nor does it eliminate the anthropomorphism of God as “Father.” These images, literary devices and analogical representations are maintained and deeply respected by the TNIV. This translation was long overdue, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Thanks for reading,