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Today's New International Version

Today's New International Version is an English translation of the Bible developed by the Committee on Bible Translation, or CBT. The CBT is the same organization that translated the New International Version (NIV) in the 1970s. The TNIV is a new translation based on the NIV. It is explicitly Protestant like its predecessor; the deuterocanonical books are not part of the translation. The TNIV New Testament was published in March 2002. The complete Bible was published in February 2005. The rights to the text are owned by the International Bible Society (IBS), a non-profit ministry that uses revenue gained from bible sales to translate and distribute bibles in indigenous languages all over the world. Zondervan, an evangelical Christian communications company, publishes the TNIV in North America. Hodder & Stoughton publish the TNIV in the UK and European Union.

The translation took more than ten years to complete. Thirteen evangelical scholars were dedicated to doing the translation; Dr. Ronald Youngblood, Dr. Kenneth Barker, Professor John H. Stek, Dr. Donald H. Madvig, Dr. Richard T. France, Dr. Gordon Fee, Dr. Karen H. Jobes, Dr. Walter Liefeld, Dr. Douglas J. Moo, Dr. Bruce K. Waltke, Dr. Larry L. Walker, Dr. Herbert M. Wolf and Dr. Martin Selman. Forty other scholars, many of them experts on specific books of the Bible, reviewed the translations teams work. They all came from a range of conservative denominational backgrounds.

Translation Philosophy

It was felt by the translators that many passages in older translations are misleading to contemporary readers. The intent of the TNIV translators was to produce an accurate and readable translation in contemporary language. The Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) wanted to build a new version on the heritage of the NIV and make it a balanced, mediating version, one that would fall in-between the most literal translation and the most free; word-for-word (Formal Equivalence) and thought-for-thought (Dynamic Equivalence).

For translation a wide range of manuscripts were reviewed. The Masoretic text, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Greek Septuagint or (LXX), the Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion, the Latin Vulgate, the Syriac Peshitta, the Aramaic Targums, and for the Psalms the Juxta Hebraica of Jerome were all consulted for the Old Testament. The Dead Sea Scrolls were occasionally followed where the Masoretic Text seemed inconsistent. The United Bible Societies Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament text was used for the New Testament.

TNIV Differences

There are a number of changes in the TNIV. Dr. Craig Blomberg stated in a 2003 paper titled, The Untold Story of a Good Translation, that 70% of the changes in the TNIV move in a "more literal direction three times more often than not". Dr. Mark Strauss has stated that the majority of changes are, "based on advances in biblical scholarship, linguistics, and archaeology".

In Matthew 1:18, where the NIV says that Mary was “with child”, The TNIV simply says Mary was “pregnant”.

In Luke 12:38, the phrase “fourth watch of the night” employed in the NIV is changed to “shortly before dawn” (Luke 12:38) in the TNIV.

The TNIV translators have, at times, opted for more traditional Anglo-Saxon or poetic renderings than those found in the NIV. For example, “the heavens” is sometimes chosen to replace the “the sky,” as is the case in Isaiah 50:3: "I clothe the heavens with darkness and make sackcloth its covering."

At times the TNIV offers a different or nuanced understanding of a passage. For example, in the NIV, Psalm 26:3 reads, “For your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.” The TNIV reads, “For I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.”

There are a number of changes in this one verse, but of special note is the TNIV’s translation of the Hebrew word ’emet. The TNIV translators took this word to mean more than simple honesty in Psalm 26:3, referring more specifically to reliability or trustworthiness.

Examples of other changes are “truly I tell you” becomes “I tell you the truth”; “fellow workers” becomes “coworkers”; “the Jews,” particularly in John's Gospel, often becomes “Jewish leaders” when the context makes it apparent what the statement's real meaning is; “miracles,” especially in John, become the more literal “signs”, “miraculous signs”, or “works”. The word for “spirit”, where there is a good chance it means the Holy Spirit, is now capitalized, “Peter” is rendered “Cephas” when the Greek merely transliterates the Hebrew name.

Other notable changes are that “Christ” has regularly been rendered as “Messiah”, “saints” has often been replaced with terms such as “God's people” or “believers”.

Gender language and the TNIV

Among other differences from the NIV, the TNIV uses gender inclusive language to refer to people, but not God. Confessional terms for this kind of language are also used: "gender accurate" (pro) or "gender neutral" (con). Two straight-forward examples of this kind of translation decision are found in Genesis and Matthew. Genesis 1:27 reads: "So God created human beings in his own image." Other translations use the word "man" to translate the word `adam employed in the original Hebrew—the same word used as the proper name of the first man married to the first woman, Eve. Matthew 5:9 reads: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." Here, the Greek word huioi is translated "children" rather than "sons" as found in other versions. Masculine references to God, such as "Father" and "Son" are not modified in the TNIV.

Opponents of this approach point out that many of the terms in question carry male denotations and connotations in the original Hebrew and Greek. Some Bible translators argue that, while there are passages in the text that lend themselves to inclusive language, other changes are unfaithful to the original Hebrew and Greek. Critics of inclusive language claim that inclusive language, can provide incorrect translations in various instances. Three examples of the kind of observations made by the critics come from Psalm 1, John's Gospel and from Revelation.

The original Hebrew of Psalm 1:1 has the word `ish (man). This is removed in the TNIV, by rendering the verse in the plural to be inclusive: "Blessed are those who do not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers". The singular in the original highlights the struggle of the individual against the wicked masses. The TNIV renders Revelation 3:20: "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me." The masculine singular in the original Greek depicts Jesus eating with an individual at a private home, not attending a dinner party with a plurality of guests. The use of them and they in the TNIV appears to be plural to some English readers. John 6:44 in the TNIV reads: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day". Again, the masculine singular in the original depicts Father and Son drawing and raising each individual personally, rather than dealing with people as a group, as some may read it

Proponents of inclusive language translations of Scripture argue that the grammatical gender of a word has no bearing on its meaning. (For example, in Spanish the word for a table, mesa, is grammatically feminine, but that does not mean tables are female.) The two main arguments in favor of inclusive language are:

  • Some believe that male nuances did not attach to some kinds of words in various passages; therefore translations like the TNIV could more accurately communicate the meaning of the text. For example, words like adelphoi often translated "brothers", was understood in some Greek contexts in a gender inclusive way. With the shift of time and customs, "brothers" in English is thought by many to be an inappropriate word to denote a mixed-sex group. On this view, a large number of passages would be better using "brothers and sisters" to avoid miscommunication.
  • Traditional forms of English, in which words like man and he applied to both genders, are falling out of everyday use and are likely to be misinterpreted, especially by younger readers. Also, it is argued, that use of what is termed the "singular" they does not obscure the individual application of passages like Revelation 3:20, because such use is increasingly common in the English language and is understood by most readers.

Less than 30% of the changes in the TNIV involve the use of inclusive language. The TNIV's approach to gender inclusive language is similar to that of the New International Version Inclusive Language Edition (NIVI), New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), the New Living Translation (NLT), the New Century Version (NCV), and the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

The TNIV and hoi ioudaioi

In the TNIV some original Greek text references to hoi ioudaioi (literally, the Jews), are changed from the original English translation of "the Jews" to "Jewish leaders", or simply "they" (e.g. John 18:36). This change has been called for by Jewish leaders as a way of avoiding wording in the Gospel of John being misunderstood and a number of evangelical scholars agree with this change. The TNIV is not alone among English Bible versions in following recent biblical scholarship on this matter.

Circulation

  • In 2002, Zondervan published the TNIV New Testament.
  • In 2005, Zondervan planned to advertise the TNIV in Rolling Stone as part of its campaign to launch the full TNIV Bible to “spiritually intrigued 18 to 34 year olds.” Just weeks before the ad’s scheduled run date, Rolling Stone pulled the ad, citing a policy against religious advertisements in its magazine. Beginning with a story in USA Today, media frenzy ensued and two weeks later, Rolling Stone reversed its position and published the ad.
  • In 2006, Zondervan announced the production of The Bible Experience, an audio recording of the TNIV featuring performances by Angela Bassett, Cuba Gooding Jr., Blair Underwood, Denzel Washington and several other leading celebrities. The Bible Experience New Testament was released in October 2006. It has since become a best seller. The planned launch for the complete TNIV audio bible is October 2007.
  • In 2006, Zondervan launched the TNIV Study Bible with study notes and a 700 page topical index.
  • In 2007, the International Bible Society released The Books of the Bible which makes several changes in formatting of the text. The TNIV text is used without chapter-verse divisions, all headings removed, and footnotes moved to the end of each book. The books are also arranged in a different order, and some books are combined into a single volume as they were originally written. (Example: 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings were originally a single book. They are recombined in The Books of the Bible as Samuel-Kings.)
  • In 2008, Zondervan released the TNIV Reference Bible. University teacher Rick Mansfield stated in an online review of a preview copy that it's, “the edition of the TNIV I wish I had been using from the very beginning.”

Supporters and Critics

Denominations supportive of the TNIV include the Christian Reformed Church (CRC), which officially endorsed the TNIV as an acceptable translation for use, the Evangelical Covenant Church and the Free Methodist Church of North America. Scholars from the Free Methodist Church of North America had a varied response from it "constitutes no threat" to "most accurate ever".

Evangelical leaders supportive of the TNIV include: Ronald F. Youngblood, Herbert M. Wolf, Mark L. Strauss, Tremper Longman III, Alan Johnson, Dennis Okholm, Gilbert Bilezikian, Paul E. Koptak, Linda Belleville, John Ortberg, Robert C. Andringa, John Armstrong, Adam Hamilton, John Stek, Emeritus Bates, Donald H. Madvig, Kenneth L. Barker, Gordon Fee, Richard T. France, Karen H. Jobes, Walter Liefeld, Douglas Moo, Martin J. Selman, Rob Bell, Bruce K. Waltke, Craig Blomberg, Darrell Bock, Don Carson, Jim Cymbala, Peter Furler, Bill Hybels, Tremper Longman, Erwin McManus, Ben Patterson, Ben Witherington III, Terry C. Muck and others.

Authors supportive of the TNIV include: Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ; John R. W. Stott; Philip Yancey; Rob Lacey, author of The Word on the Street; Diane Komp, M.D., author of A Window to Heaven; Dan Kimball, author of The Emerging Church and Emerging Worship; Terri Blackstock; Ken Davis and Scott Evans.

In June, 2002, over 100 evangelical leaders signed a 'Statement of Concern' opposing the TNIV. The Presbyterian Church in America and the Southern Baptist Convention passed resolutions opposing the TNIV and other inclusive language translations.

Evangelical scholars and pastoral leaders critical of the TNIV include: J. I. Packer, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Wayne Grudem, Mary Kassian, D. James Kennedy, Josh McDowell, Albert Mohler, John Piper, Dennis Rainey, Pat Robertson, R.C. Sproul, Joni Eareckson Tada and others.

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