Monday, June 05, 2006

Why use TNIV?

Some readers may have been interested, possibly even some offended, at my choice of TNIV (Today's New International Version) as my preferred Bible version for this blog. This version has been highly controversial, especially in the USA, for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood has been running a vitriolic (and in my opinion quite un-Christian in tone) campaign against TNIV, accusing it quite unjustifiably of thousands of "inaccuracies".

Why did I chose TNIV myself? I have used NIV as my main Bible for personal use for more than 20 years. But there were several things about it which I had become not entirely happy with, for example its treatment of gender issues and the way in which it read the New Testament back into the Old Testament. See the quoted comment below on the latter point; I may come back to the gender issues at another time. When the TNIV New Testament came out in 2001 I saw that this was a significant improvement in several ways. Last year my church was looking to buy new "pew" Bibles (we don't have pews, which actually gives us a problem as we have nowhere to leave them out). The original intention was to buy NIV, but at my suggestion we waited for the then imminent publication of TNIV and then ordered it, at a bargain price direct from the International Bible Society. When at last I saw the full Bible, I was glad to see also to see some improvement on how the Old Testament depends on the New Testament, although the changes are not as complete as I might have liked. But I am not sure I would actually want to change Psalm 51:11 - see below.

I will not attempt a fuller review of TNIV because Rick Mansfield has just written an excellent one. Here are the comments on it which I just submitted:
Thanks for the excellent review. At least it was excellent once I had increased the font size twice so that it was large enough to read (on my high resolution laptop screen) - although still smaller than the Better Bibles Blog.

You mention the change in Philippians 3:8 from "rubbish" to "garbage". Here in England "rubbish" is the normal word and "garbage", although understood, is considered an Americanism. Sadly, perhaps, the people who prepared the British edition of TNIV did not change back to "rubbish" here, although they still change "rooster" to the normal word used in Britain as well as in KJV.

You mention the issue of keeping OT Messianic prophecies in a form which more directly applies them to Christ, for example at Psalm 34:20. It is worth noting that this is a change between NIV and TNIV which goes beyond the gender issues. NIV has been widely criticised for reading the NT back into the OT, for example in using capital letters for "Son" in Psalm 2:7,12 and "Holy Spirit" in Psalm 51:11, and for the rendering "virgin" in Isaiah 7:14. TNIV has backed down on capitalising "son" in Psalm 2, although it retains "Holy Spirit" and "virgin" - but for the latter has added a footnote "Or young woman". These changes, as well as the rendering of Psalm 34:20, suggest a policy change, welcome to me, of translating the Hebrew Bible as a Hebrew work from the BC period, and not imposing on it interpretations, even those inspired by the Holy Spirit, from centuries later and a very different cultural and theological context. But I am aware that not everyone agrees with me on this one.


At Saturday, June 10, 2006 9:54:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,

it's James again. I'd never heard of the TNIV but on reading the quotes from it you have made from this blog I have been quite impressed with it.

I don't want to risk offence to anyone by naming particular translations but there have been certain translations I have read that I have just felt lacked the spirit with which they were written and therefore have not had the usual effect of Yah's spirit acting upon me when reading them.

The language used in the quotes you have given seems to both capture natural English usage, show an extraordinary faithfulness to the original text and the words are filled with spirit and fire. I am quite impressed with it. A fine choice.


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