I’ve been mulling this one over for several days — weeks, actually. I don’t want to sound like I’m trying to be an expert (I’m not) and I don’t want to get anybody all riled up to debate me about it. I’m just a layman who has been using the TNIV extensively in my own Bible study over the last several months. I dislike conflict and will not be lured into debate on my own blog about this supposedly controversial translation.
If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably aware that there has been a controversy swirling around the TNIV for literally years now. It has been hashed over and hashed through on many blogs and websites until most of us are just sick of all the hash being slung. Therefore, I will not address the controversy. Instead, I will look at the TNIV just like I have looked at all the other translations I have reviewed. If you wish to debate it, find some other place to do that.
I am finding it difficult to express the satisfaction I am feeling about the TNIV now after using it heavily for several months. It simply combines nearly the literal accuracy of the NASB with the readability of the NIV. I have found virtually none of the so-called “interpretation” by the translators injected into the TNIV that some of its detractors claim there is. Even the “inclusive language”, which is present in more Bibles than most people would believe, is usually seamless and exceptionally well done. There are some areas (Psalm 1, Rev.3:20) where singulars are changed to plurals in order to avoid the use of the generic masculine pronouns he/him/his, and those tend to bother me some, because I think they could have been rendered better as singulars and probably would have been more accurate. But I think that is a very minor complaint, and the translators can probably defend their decision better than I can defend my own thoughts on the matter.
The TNIV is now one of my two favorite translations, the other being the Holman CSB. I believe I can now recommend the TNIV very highly to just about anybody who comes along, wondering what Bible they should buy. I think one of the major positive points it has going for it is the fact that it is the latest update of the most-accepted translation in recent history – the NIV. As such it is perfectly acceptable to ears that are used to hearing the NIV read. I would be willing to wager that most folks who are used to the NIV would be hard-pressed to differentiate between the two when reading much of the Bible. There are only a few places where they would catch on to the fact that the one is different from the other.
But that is not to say that they are so similar that there’s no reason to get the TNIV over the NIV. The TNIV is definitely superior to the NIV. There are many, many places in the NIV which were mistranslated, sometime just a little bit, but sometimes a great deal, and these have nearly all been corrected in the TNIV. This one thing brings the TNIV into the same league with the NASB, NRSV, and ESV for literal accuracy, yet it retains the easy readability and understandability of the NIV. For my money, that’s a great big plus for the TNIV.
Zondervan’s marketing of the TNIV, on the other hand, has nearly caused me to pull out what little bit remains of my hair. Sure, they had that “controversy” to deal with. And I’m sure that affected quite a number of their marketing decisions. But when you come out with a Bible translation that combines the best things of both the NASB and the NIV, why would you market it only to the under-30 crowd? It’s the Bible, and should be marketed to people of all ages. Zondervan is finally getting around to correcting this situation, but it still has left us with a dearth of serious TNIV Bibles for those of us who are serious about Bible study.
Even so, I recommend the TNIV highly to anybody. It’s my favorite … or my second favorite … I can’t decide! But it’s really good!