TNIV gets canned, NIV updated


Biblica, the newly renamed owner of the NIV and TNIV, announced today that it would update the New International Version of the Bible.

Christianity Today reported that Biblica CEO Keith Danby said the 2002 revision of the translation, Today’s New International Version (TNIV) was a mistake.

It appears that Biblica and its publisher Zondervan realized they goofed when they focused their resources in the TNIV rather than the NIV. As the best-selling Bible version today, the latter will now get their undivided attention, while the TNIV gets thrown under the bus.

The NIV was revised in 1978 and 1984. In 2005 they tried again. And met disaster.

Obama should learn from the TNIV experience. The people responsible goofed badly when they thought they could ram through gender-free language and make everybody like it. It didn’t happen. The TNIV was going to be the new NIV. With an uproar from the evangelical community and others interested in proper translation, they backed off and called the gender-tweaked edition the TNIV.

The question now is, what direction will Biblica and Zondervan take the NIV? There are some serious issues with it that need to be taken into account.

My first suggestion: restore the 1978 rendering of Acts 2:38: “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'”

It would seem that the purpose of immersion was a bit too clear, so they fell back to the phrase, “for the forgiveness of sins.” The 1978 rendering didn’t leave room for the faith-only crowd to split hairs.

When the entire NIV Bible was released in 1978, my sister worked in a bookstore back home, and I was in college at Freed-Hardeman. She sent me a copy, and it turned out I was apparently the first one on campus to have it. Fellow students streamed into my dorm room to take a peek. I typed in the verse above from that edition, now in pieces from long use.

One would hope that the NIV revision, slated for 2011, would reflect responsible scholarship and respect for the biblical text. I use the Portuguese Bible for most of what I do. But when I use an English text, it depends on the need of the moment. Lately, I’ve turned often to the NET Bible, a very respectable alternative.

With this new revision, the NIV might again become a favorite to turn to. Or it may be one I turn against.

UPDATE: See also this USA Today article with quotes from Danby and the president of Zondervan.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

7 thoughts on “TNIV gets canned, NIV updated

  1. The rendering of Acts 2:38 could be improved even further by TRANSLATING rather than TRANSLITERATING:

    “Change your mindset, and be immersed …”.

    And in the Tanakh (improperly known as the “Old Testament” to most of us), the translators should cease corrupting the text by substituting “the LORD” for the actual letters “YHWH” which God Himself provided. Who gave humans the right to change the text, even if for a noble reason (*cough*) such as “reverence for God’s name”?

  2. “Obama should learn from the TNIV experience.”

    Get over yourself. Why in the world would you bring your political views into a blog about a biblical translation?

  3. Hello, Dave, thanks for commenting. I just happened to see a parallel there, and thought it appropriate to mention. Political views are independent of the Obama approach to government, which is to shove it all down our throats. Neither Republicans, nor Democrats, nor independents are enjoying that approach.

    I pray you benefited in some way from the post, which has hundreds of words besides the seven you focused on.

  4. Brother Randal,

    I did enjoy your post, being a conservative FHU Bible major myself. I also appreciate that you are in SE Brazil, the birth place of one of my children.

    Nevertheless, the personal political views of the current US government are completely irrelevant to the topic discussed. Seriously, brother, but the following statement is just out of line: “Political views are independent of the Obama approach to government, which is to shove it all down our throats. Neither Republicans, nor Democrats, nor independents are enjoying that approach.”

    Many Christians around the world have no idea about Obama politics (nor do they care), not to mention that many Christians in the US are in approval of our current president. Point is this: Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what belongs to God. You are a good and reasonable man, I hope you can see this.

    PS. Lets hope Massa can get better 🙂

    Your brother in Christ,

  5. To “Chyntt” …. Puhleeze!!!! There is no W in the Hebrew alphabet. There is not even a corresponding letter. The V is the closest equivalent. Anyone who actually tries to read and write Hebrew will realize the impracticality given the frequency and usage of the “vav” in Hebrew (note the prefix denoting “and”). Kevin

What do you think?