Wednesday, March 16, 2005

TNIV Makes the News

So the TNIV makes the news in the UK. It comes with 45,000 changes from the NIV. The translators have taken the step of removing words like 'aliens' and replaced it with 'foreigners' since young people think of extra-terrestrial beings. (I have to admit that reading 'aliens' in our family Bible reading has actually added to the fun of the occasion and has offered the opportunity of explaining that 'aliens' really were outsiders!)

Of course, the most controversial changes have been in the use of gender neutral language as far as possible. The reason for all of this is given at the Zondervan website:
For Zondervan, more people engaging the Bible more means reaching 18- to 34-year-olds with the Bible in compelling, innovative formats, all supported by the most readable and reliable translation for today’s generation—the TNIV.
In other words, it is a marketing ploy.

There has been great deal of scholarly discussion of the TNIV, and its predecessor the NIVI, but Vern Poythress of Westminster Theological Seminary writes:
The scholarly discussions have their place. We can debate about the meaning of this or that individual verse. But in the end, the differences in opinion do not arise primarily from scholarly technicalities. If there is any justification for the overall policy of the TNIV, it is a pragmatic one.
(emphasis his)

Clearly pragmatism, increasingly the dominant consideration amongst those who call themselves Christian, is winning out over the plain meaning of Scripture as delivered to us. Poythress concludes:
[I]t is not legitimate to drop some meanings out of the Bible itself, for the sake of acceptability. We must beware lest, in spite of our good motives, we end up compromising the word of God. We then end up implying, in spite of noble intentions to the contrary, that God made a bad marketing mistake when he wrote the Bible the way he did, but that fortunately we are here to help him out! No. Rather, let us respect what God has spoken in his Word, and let us not attempt to be wiser than God.

More on the TNIV debate can be found here.

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