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.
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.
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”.
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:
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).
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.