The Surprise End of the TNIV


If you’ve been following the Christian circles of the blogosphere, you’ve no doubt heard that Biblica (formerly the International Bible Society), copyright holders of the NIV and TNIV translations, would discontinue the publication of the TNIV Bible. The TNIV, an update of the bestselling NIV, has been at the center of controversy since it’s release in 2002, for it’s use of gender-inclusive language, among other issues.

Recently, in an article on Christianity Today, Biblica CEO Keith Danby offered the following statements:

“In 1997, IBS announced that it was forgoing all plans to publish an updated NIV following criticism of the NIV inclusive language edition (NIVi) published in the United Kingdom. Quite frankly, some of the criticism was justified and we need to be brutally honest about the mistakes that were made,” Danby said. “We fell short of the trust that was placed in us. We failed to make the case for revisions and we made some important errors in the way we brought the translation to publication. We also underestimated the scale of the public affection for the NIV and failed to communicate the rationale for change in a manner that reflected that affection.”

Douglas Moo, chairman of the Committee for Bible Translation (the body responsible for both the NIV and TNIV), offered some additional comments:

“We felt certainly at the time it was the right thing to do, that the language was moving in that direction,” Moo said. “All that is back on the table as we reevaluate things this year. This has been a time over the last 15 to 20 years in which the issue of the way to handle gender in English has been very much in flux, in process, in development. And things are changing quickly and so we are going to look at all of that again as we produce the 2011 NIV.”

I’ll admit, I was actually quite surprised at this announcement. As I wrote about a couple weeks ago, I used to use the TNIV before switching to the ESV, and I still occasionally refer back to it (and the NIV) when I want to compare against the ESV. I’ve known about some of the controversy surrounding the translation, but I honestly didn’t think it would ever come to the point where the entire thing was scrapped (phased out over the next several years, of course).

What I greatly appreciate about how this debate has concluded is the tremendous amount of humility exhibited.

Both Danby and Moo have admitted that there are important errors in the translation, and therefore it needs to be reevaluated. Danby’s comments, in particular, greatly impressed me. Frankly, if it were me in his position, I don’t know if I have the character it requires to be as forthright as he has been in the short comment above.

It takes a great deal of humility to say, “We made a mistake.”

I think that’s an important lesson for a guy like me.

Second, from what I’ve seen from those who are opposed to the TNIV so far, there’s also a tremendous amount of humility being exhibited in their responses. I have yet to see something with a feel of “We won!” and for that I am truly grateful.

Just as it takes a great deal of humility to admit a mistake, it also requires a great deal to not lord it over those who’ve done so.

So what are your thoughts on this?

Does this announcement come as a surprise?

Does it affect you or your church?

Are you excited/curious to see what the next iteration of the NIV will be?

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