The Common Good

Lost in Translation? More Inclusive TNIV Dropped in Favor of Newer NIV

Let me begin by asking a simple question: What Bible translation do you use and why?

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As a pastor and wannabe theologian, I have, read, and use countless Bibles and various translations in my bookshelves. A 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 of 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 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 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 criticism, and now their "exit strategy," which sends some awful, mixed messages. Having said that and despite being disappointed with the unplugging of the TNIV, I am eager to check out the 2011 NIV

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