Monday, 30 March 2009

The TNIV and Bible Sales

Over at the Better Bibles Blog, they carry an interesting post regarding the latest Bible sales figures in the USA. What the Blog finds particularly of note is the absence of the TNIV in the top ten. There is some dismay in the comments section at the lack of support the TNIV seems to be receiving from both its publisher (Zondervan) and retail stores. I can't believe this situation. The TNIV has been bullied out of fashion.

I am convinced that gender neutral language with respect to translating pronouns is accurate. You won't hear many folk in the street using generic 'he' in conversation any more. Yet many scholars who should know better, have reacted furiously to the TNIV, accusing it of a politically correct or even feminist agenda. Ok, so when I refuse to use the word 'gay' to describe happy, am I bowing to linguistic pressure from pink-pressure groups? No, I'm merely using common sense. Sure, homosexual pressure groups have commandeered the word and the meaning has changed. But to accuse someone, who verbally adapts to the new change, of succumbing to political pressure is nonsense. I believe the same is the case with masculine pronouns. Go to the TNIV website and you will find a sound linguistic rationale for each and every change from the NIV.

Furthermore, if you read Carson's book on the matter the unavoidable impression you get is that the opponents of the TNIV are naive linguistic fundamentalists. It's rather akin to the movement who opposed the removal of 'thees' and 'thous' in our old versions. Linguistic conservatism is an unnecessary stumbling block to those coming to faith. It creates the impression that we're terrified of feminists and conservative for conservative's sake. Someone might reason, "If they're so extreme and yet so wrong about this issue, what else are they wrong about?" In short, it damages the gospel. The only offense in our words should be the offense of the cross, not the offense of unnecessary and stuffy language. It's hard to find a credible linguistic expert who backs the cause of Grudem, Piper, et al. Those who consider themselves Reformed should back away from this insane fight.

The silly agreement made by the IBS (International Bible Society) not to replace NIV with a gender accurate version should be revoked. It was an agreement made under pressure from linguistic fundamentalists, and is therefore an ungodly and unfair treaty. The TNIV is sliding because of pressure. Up the ante I say and replace the NIV by re-naming the TNIV "The NIV".


Steven Carr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Carr said...

Honestly, Nick, you have let your good sense go out the window on this one. This is a cause worth fighting for. I am sorry to have to disagree with you on this one. God is revealed to us as a "He" not a "she". Anyone familiar with the Greek NT knows this. God is our Father not mother/father. You probably aren't going to find the TNIV talking about its feminist agenda on its website because they want to sell their Bibles. But the feminist agenda behind the TNIV is well documented.

Bad form, Nick. I hope you reconsider this post.

Nick Mackison said...

Steven, I honestly think this fight is a crazy one. The TNIV nowhere translates pronouns relating to God as "she" or "it". As far as I know, most guys involved in translating the TNIV were complementarians.

Furthermore, I don't think it's a feminist agenda driving the TNIV as much as a desire to translate in the way that we speak. Those who oppose the TNIV are trying in vain to turn back the clock to the good ol' days when we spoke with masculine pronouns. It's pure stubborn-ness and linguistic naivete to persevere in this manner.

It's like someone saying "Gay means happy. So when I say I'm gay I mean I'm happy. Those who say otherwise are guilty of political correctness and a homo agenda."

Wout said...

Anyone laying charges that God is a "he" not a "she" and comments to that effect have obviously not ever read any of the TNIV. The TNIV is a modern translation. So is the ESV, NIV, NASB etc. We are fortunate to be able to have so many choices, and able to choose which suits our own style best. Let us not forget that the differences are style, not content. The Bible is God's Word, and that includes the TNIV translation. Steven Carr, where is your good sense?

Jay @ Regent said...

The comments by Steven do indeed show how deceptive the claims by the fundamentalists againt TNIV have been. Every time I mention that I read the TNIV, friends say "isn't that the bible that calls God a she?" Where are people getting this stuff? The distorted claims of John Piper, Wayne Grudem and their cronies! This is a witch hunt and one that is attacking God's word, not defending it.

A word to Steven: Do some research before you type another word. The TNIV NEVER EVER insinuates that God is a she. The Father remains the Father, the Son remains the Son. God is still referred to as HE in EVERY instance where the pronoun is used. The only time "gender-accurate" language is used is when human beings are referred to using a Greek word that can mean brothers and sisters, such as adelphoi or adelphos, or anthropos which can either mean man or human beings.

Please stop accepting the lies!

Anonymous said...

there is a terrific amount of support for the TNIV from some leading pastors and teachers, including Andy Stanley (NorthPointe in Atlanta), John Ortberg (Menlo Park, CA), and Rob Bell (Mars Hill, GR, MI). So many people "checked their brains at the door" when the translation was launched and a few squeaky wheels distributed wrong or bad information and that info stuck. These people did a huge dis-service for the Kingdom, in fact if they would have put as much passion into saving lost souls, we would have seen a revival. I love the TNIV, I introduce it everyone I know that is looking for a more readable, yet accurate translation and it always gets a warm reception. One of the best products is "The Story" - check it out, it is being used right now by all 12,000 + members at Max Lucado's church in San Antonio.