If you’ve read my previous post, you are aware that I am no longer teaching a Bible study class in my local church. But I am also now realizing that this change is affecting how I look at Bible translations.
Recently I had been basing my own choices in translations on what I felt would be a good translation for my students to use, for me to use with them, and for my church to use (if they ever even asked my opinion!) That led me to the new NLT, and especially the NLT Study Bible.
But this week, since coming to the decision I made on Sunday to discontinue my class, I have started looking for a translation, and even a particular Bible, that I want for myself. I have begun to realize that the NLT is a bit too periphrastic for my tastes. I can still recommend it to other people, but I’m not quite as comfortable with it for myself. I like something a bit more literally accurate than that. So I went back to a couple more traditional Bibles I have: my beat-up old NASB95 and my very-new NKJV, both reference Bibles.
There are a few things about the NKJV that bother me. It contains a lot of archaic English, that is undeniable. It also has some curious renderings, particularly in the area of punctuation which can affect meanings. And I really am not very comfortable at all with the Textus Receptus and the resulting “extra” words, phrases, and even full verses that result. Plus, the NKJV is actually quite a difficult read, by comparison with most other Bibles. So it’s not the one I want as my main Bible.
Things are quite different when I move over to the NASB95. So much of this translation flows very nicely. It’s beautiful and relatively accurate, accurate enough that it is generally accepted as the most accurate of all modern Bible translations. It’s a bit stilted and difficult to read out loud, I have found, but since I’m not teaching any more that doesn’t matter so much to me.
Well, I thought I had found my ideal Bible translation, and was all set to buy a replacement for my beat-up one I’ve been using for several years, until I started running into passages that were too muddy for my little brain to get wrapped around. I knew they were there. 2 Corinthians is a major one, but I was finding muddy passages even in 2 Timothy and Hebrews. So I decided that it was time to look a bit further.
One Bible which has made a major difference in my personal spiritual growth is the NIV. It is the one I have long gone to when I want to clear up a meaning in one of the other translations. It is the one which usually makes the light go on in my mind and brings me to understanding. I own several of them, including the NIVSB, and a nice, almost-new burgundy bonded leather giant-print reference edition. I can use it very comfortably except for one thing – I am now familiar with the TNIV! I have found the TNIV to be almost as literally accurate as the NASB, but printed in English as it is spoken today, with all its warts like the masculine “they” and “their”, and that horrible “inclusive language”. (That’s become such a non-issue that I almost hate to mention it any more!) I have now become very comfortable with it, and at this point it is the one I have decided I want for my main Bible for the foreseeable future.
I own a couple of TNIVs; one with a too small font size for me to read comfortably, and a TNIV XL black bonded leather version with finger index on the edges. Personally I don’t like the indexing; I think it’s unattractive and is not nearly as easy to use as it should be. But that’s just personal preference. This Bible was a gift, so I can’t really complain about that.
I think what I would really like is the TNIV Reference Bible, especially if the publisher would up the font size to 10 pt from 9 pt so I could read it more comfortably (11 pt. would be even better!). But if I had to, I could live with the 9 pt. I’m confident enough about that that I have the TNIVRB on my CBD wish list.
But there’s more to this story. It appears that there are still TNIVRBs available at CBD and Amazon and so on, but I wanted to get some more info on it and other upcoming editions, so I went to the Zondervan and IBS websites, and I was absolutely shocked to find there was no mention of the TNIVRB at either site! Here I was under the impression that they were starting to do something right with the TNIV. While I saw some other TNIV offerings, there was nothing else of the quality and “traditional” appearance that we have come to expect in the TNIVRB. I understand they are releasing the Renaissance Leather version of the TNIVRB in the very near future, but one would think there would be even a short mention of that fact by Zondervan and IBS, but no.
So I’m not at all sure what to make of this discovery. It almost looks like they are in the process of phasing out the TNIV. Well, if they are going to phase the TNIV in as the latest NIV without making any fuss about it, that’s what I thought they should have done all along! But if they’re in the process of dropping the TNIV, then it will be a sad day. We’ll need to treasure the TNIVs that we already have.