When I saw this headline at Christianity Today Breaking: Translators Regret TNIV, Will Overhaul NIV I thought my buddy Ted Olsen was making a joke. But it’s true! Zondervan, the worlds biggest Bible publisher, admits it made a mistake:
“Some of the criticism was justified,” Danby said. “We fell short of the trust that was placed in us and we made some important errors on the way. . . . We let down our partners.”
“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.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the problems with (and controversy surrounding) the TNIV, I recommend this brief explanation by Fr. Neuhaus in the May 2002 issue of First Things :
The best-selling Bible translation in the English-speaking world is the New International Version (NIV). It is the overwhelming favorite among evangelical Protestants. In 1997 there was a very big fuss when it was reported that the International Bible Society, which holds the copyright, and Zondervan, the exclusive publisher, contemplated a gender inclusive version of the NIV. As a result of the ruckus, they agreed to cease and desist. But now, lo and behold, Today’s New International Version . Many evangelical leaders are furious. Here is a statement of protest noting that evangelical Christians confess the plenary, verbal inspiration of Scripture. Plenary means every,’ verbal means word.’ Thus God inspired each of the words of the original text of the Bible, not simply the concepts behind those words. Never mind that plenary actually means full, or that many evangelicals and most other Christians do not subscribe to a dictation theory of divine inspiration. TNIV, like some other contemporary translations, does have big problems. For instance, Hebrews 2:6, echoing Psalm 8 and other Old Testament passages, has it, What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? TNIV has this: What are mere mortals that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Apart from the clumsy language, there is a theological distortion in that son of man has been understood, from the apostolic era to the present, to be a messianic reference to Christ. Revelation 3:20: 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: 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. The latter is simply grammatically wrong. And what’s the point? Does anyone seriously fear that people will think that Jesus does not eat with women? There are numerous other such examples. One need not get worked up to a high dudgeon over theories of biblical inspiration to find repugnant this incessant meddling with texts, aimed at pandering to people who are too sensitive for decent company. And, of course, aimed at selling new, improved Bibles that nobody needs.