The TNIV is now officially a dead translation

Thanks to a commenter here I’ve just learned that the people at Zondervan have officially killed the Today’s New International Version (TNIV translation).  Christianity Today blog has just released news of this decision which had been brewing in the headquarters at Zondervan within the last ten days.  Zondervan’s past and present supporters of the TNIV have been sorely let down.  I am currently reeling from my deep disappointment with this decision.  At this point, I don’t really know what to think.  My emotions are going up and down as I am writing this blog post.

I suspect that Zondervan may have a strategic plan on the drawing board to rally support from the Christian community before they launch the new edition of the NIV in 2011.  Zondervan feels that how the TNIV was handled was a mistake.  Christianity Today’s blog post writes:

“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….

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.”

Well, was the TNIV a victim of division or a cause of division in the evangelical community?  I believe the TNIV was a victim of division rather than a cause of division.  The cause of division came from its critics who railed against gender-inclusive language but these are the same people who did not say a thing against the New Living Translation.  That was hypocritical.

Is Zondervan caving into the pressure of the bias against gender-inclusive language?  In my opinion, they are.  Perhaps there might be several spots in the TNIV where gender-inclusive language could be curbed, but on the whole, it is a very good translation.  People like me and many others who supported the TNIV will be disappointed upon hearing this sad news that came to my attention yesterday.

Douglas Moo, chair of the Committee on Bible Translation stated:

“I can predict that this is going to look 90 percent or more what the 1984 NIV looks like and 95 percent what the TNIV looks like,” he said. “The changes are going to be a very small portion of the whole Scripture package.”

Okay, so how much of the new NIV will actually contain gender-inclusive language?  95 percent?…75 percent?…50 percent?…25 percent?  Or God-forbid 10 percent?  I think the decision-makers at Zondervan are probably so dizzy trying to make sense of what happened that they have no idea what to do about the new NIV.

Will I trust Zondervan to make decisions on their future editions?  My trust has been betrayed.  What seems to be determining Zondervan’s business decisions is profit.  So the TNIV had not been selling well… so is it the almighty dollar that’s going to determine their publishing decisions in the future?

As far as I’m concerned, the only gender-inclusive translations I am going to read regularly at this point will be the NLT and NRSV.  My feelings toward Zondervan and the TNIV has turned from positive to negative.  For now, I am going to lay down my TNIV aside for now.  How ironic that I was just reading Deut. 31:12 from the TNIV earlier today in front of a group of thirteen parents and students.

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Author: Kevin S.

A follower of Jesus, a husband and a father. Hobbies include biking, keeping fish if they don't die on me, blogging when I can, theologizing and ministry, and pondering about world affairs.

14 thoughts on “The TNIV is now officially a dead translation”

  1. I believe the TNIV was a victim of division rather than a cause of division. The cause of division came from its critics who railed against gender-inclusive language but these are the same people who did not say a thing against the New Living Translation. That was hypocritical.

    The truth.

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  2. I’m disheartened that a superb translation is being abandoned. However, I’m cautiously optimistic about the 2011 NIV. I’m assuming the CBT will be basically the same as the TNIV team. I’m hoping that the final product (NNIV?) will incorporate the best aspects of the TNIV, while being more acceptable to the folks who were never going to give the TNIV a chance. If so, this could have the outcome of tempering the “Bible wars” and giving the English-speaking church an excellent translation. The NIV is outdated and has a needless masculine bias, yet still serves as the #1 English translation. If the 2011 NIV is as good as I pray it is, it could provide a true common English Bible (something that has been lacking for several decades), as well as perhaps temper some of the ESV-onlyism that seems to have (sadly) resulted from the TNIV backlash.

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  3. TC: Thanks.

    …as well as perhaps temper some of the ESV-onlyism that seems to have (sadly) resulted from the TNIV backlash.

    Tim: You make a really good point and I truly hope you’re right. The possible result of a common English Bible and a tempering of ESV-onlyism is the only reason I would consent to let the TNIV rest-in-peace. But if the new NIV fails to live up to their said expectations, I don’t think I will use the NIV in the future. I’m not going to consent to outdated scholarship for the sake of furthering the profit line of Zondervan (HarperCollins). It wouldn’t be right.

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  4. Kevin, I am quite certain that you have got the wrong end of the stick here, perhaps misled by a CT article which they have now admitted was factually incorrect, and have corrected. See my post for an explanation. TNIV is not dead, it is about to be resurrected.

    I agree with you that “I’m not going to consent to outdated scholarship for the sake of furthering the profit line of Zondervan (HarperCollins).” But the CBT is surely of the same mind. The worst that could happen is that Zondervan rejects what CBT comes up with and so nothing gets updated.

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  5. Peter, I hope you’re right. I admire your positive attitude about the resurrection of the TNIV in the new NIV but I think Douglas Moo, CBT and Zondervan are all in cahoots with each other because they are saying two things at the same time.

    1. “I can predict that this is going to look 90 percent or more what the 1984 NIV looks like and 95 percent what the TNIV looks like,” he said.

    2. He has also said somewhere that the new NIV may go back closer to the NIV.

    It’s clear they are trying to mend fences and rally opposing sides. But in my mind, I’ve lost confidence in Zondervan.

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  6. Stan, I have read Peter’s post you just mentioned but I still have my doubts about Moo’s and Zondervan’s intentions. Moo is trying to stop the onslaught and hemorrhaging but trying to please both sides but he’s not pleasing anyone. When Zondervan comes out with the new NIV, and see’s it still being much like the TNIV, they will continue their new NIV bashing. I think they should have just stuck to their guns but now it’s too late.

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  7. I expect the CBT will stick to their guns. After all, according to their rules they have to have a 75% majority for any change to the existing text, which is basically the TNIV, and they are not swayed by commercial considerations. There’s no way they will get that kind of majority for any large scale reversion to the old NIV text. So the new text will look much like TNIV.

    The main danger I would see is that Zondervan will get cold feet, give the new version only a half-hearted launch or none at all, and continue to sell the old NIVs. They probably have a contractual agreement to launch the new version in some way, but they can afford to buy themselves out of it if they don’t like the results of their continued investment in CBT.

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  8. Peter, I sure hope it won’t have loop holes and that you’re right about remaining mostly like the TNIV. But the corporate big whigs are definitely capable of scheming their way to keep the cash cow alive as long as they can.

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