Thursday, May 3, 2007

Two New Scholarly Endorsements

The TNIV has received two new endorsements. Both come from Asbury Theological Seminary:



"Of the making of translations there is no end," but sometimes more is better, and in the case of the TNIV we finally do have a much better translation than any of the other ones out there on the market. This translation is fresh, very readable, faithful to the original language texts, and just perfect for men and women to use for everything ranging from preaching to teaching to Bible study to devotions. Jargon and antique language are left behind but eloquence and quotability are not. This translation is both memorable and memorizable. As a New Testament scholar I cannot commend this translation highly enough. It passes everything else out there in the fast lane.



Ben Witherington, III Ph.D.

Professor of New Testament

Asbury Theological Seminary






Taking advantage of recent advances in biblical scholarship, linguistics and archaeology, Today's New International Version translates the original languages of the Bible into contemporary, very readable, English. Focusing on the meaning of the original text, rather than merely its form, the TNIV is gender accurate, scholarly precise and verbally relevant in today's changing world. It has now become my devotional Bible and I highly recommend it to all my students.



Kenneth J. Collins, Ph.D.

Professor of Historical Theology and Wesley Studies

Asbury Theological Seminary






Both of these endorsements will join the list at the soon-to-be-updated TNIV.com website. I got a chance to preview the new TNIV.com site earlier this week, and I must say that it's coming along quite well. It is a huge improvement over the previous site with greater focus, a more intuitive interface and a consistent look and feel that is modern, but simple.



While you're waiting for the new TNIV.com site to be launched (perhaps by the end of next week?), check out other scholarly endorsements listed at the IBS site, TNIV.info. And even more endorsements can be found here.

16 comments:

anonymous said...

Note Witherington and Collins are both Zondervan authors. What a pity that Zondervan didn't solicit opinion from more objective observers.

R. Mansfield said...

The sky is blue.

It really doesn't mean much that they are Zondervan authors because everybody and their (singular they used on purpose) sibling (gender neutral term used to annoy) in the evangelical world is a Zondervan author.

On the other hand to their credit, Zondervan continues to publish non-TNIV endorsing authors such as Wayne Grudem. They even published Bill Mounce's Greek for the Rest of Us even though he takes a swipe at the TNIV in the book AND signed the TNIV Statement of Concern (which he later had his name removed from).

anonymous said...

On the other hand to their credit, Zondervan continues to publish non-TNIV endorsing authors such as Wayne Grudem. They even published Bill Mounce's Greek for the Rest of Us even though he takes a swipe at the TNIV in the book AND signed the TNIV Statement of Concern (which he later had his name removed from).

This is a revisionist history! Bill Mounce removed his name from the Statement in Fall 2002. His book Greek for the Rest of Us appeared in May 2003. (A cynic could say that it appeared his removing the name from the Statement cleared the way for publication of the book.) And his criticisms of the TNIV in the book appear to be rather muted -- he for example says it is better than the NRSV and NLT.

Regarding Grudem, I do not believe he has published an original work with Zondervan since the publication of the TNIV. The one book that has appeared (Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know) is excerpted from his Systematic Theology which predates the TNIV. And yet, Grudem has continued to publish actively. (I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to fill in the cynic's words here.)

mattyc said...

It appears that the majority of endorsements for any new translation come from people who have a history with the publisher so I don't see how this would discredit their endorsement of the TNIV anymore than John Piper's endorsement of the ESV (he's published by Crossway).

anonymous said...

I would say that most of the endorsements for the ESV (some of which come from the translators themselves!) are of dubious value. However, when one sees praise for the KJV -- or an older translation such as the RSV or NEB -- I believe it is sincere and not influenced by financial factors.

MissionalGirl said...

reGeN appreciates the rights of bible scholars regarding their critical comments about the tniv regardless of whether they are pro or con...i really respect the scholarship of Ben W III, though i don't always agree with him on every point...andi'd put my name to that comment on this site without shame...peace

Matthew said...

Anonymous, which of Witherington's books were published by Zondervan?

http://benwitherington.com/Books.htm#

Also, which of Dr. Collins' books were published by Zondervan?

http://asburyseminary.edu/about/faculty/bios/ken_collins.php

anonymous said...

Here are some examples:

Ben Witherington's What Have They Done With Jesus was published by Harper San Francisco, which like Zondervan, is a HarperCollins imprint.

Kenneth Collins's Wesley on Salvation: A Study in the Standard Sermons was published by Zondervan.

anonymous said...

In reviewing publication lists, it is helpful to remember that Francis Asbury Press is a Zondervan subsidiary, and Harper San Francisco is a sister company to Zondervan, both being owned by HarperCollins.

Matthew said...

I'll give you the Harper book by Witherington. If you want to play that game I'll also point out that you missed another Harper book that BW3 co-wrote with Herschel Shanks about the James Ossuary.

Collins' book is out of print and published in 1988. I seriously doubt he feels any loyalty to Zondervan at all.

I think your assertion that Witherington and Collins can't be objective regarding the TNIV falls flat. Witherington has been talking about the TNIV since before it was ever published. In fact, when I had him in seminary he was using the British NIV because of its gender neutrality. He likes the TNIV better because it translates Paul better than the NIV.

Collins always used the NASB so I don't know what caused his change, but I do know him well enough to know that he wouldn't compromise his character to shill for a company even if he was associated with them in any significant way.

anonymous said...

I have no reason to doubt the personal integrity of Witherington and Collins, but when I read a book review, I wish to read one written by someone who an objective observer. In a number of Witherington's written works one can find some sloppy attributions and poorly edited scholarship. In the case of his quoted endorsement, his hyperbole ("passes everything else out there in the fast lane", "perfect", "much better translation than any of the other ones") causes me to doubt the value of his endorsement.

One problem with blurbs in general is that they tend to be hard to interpret. Let me give you several examples.

Also from Asbury is a quote from Dr. Terry Muck:

This new translation is the most accurate ever. It is more faithful to the actual Greek text than any of the standard translations.

Now this statement is quite hard to understand. Does Muck really claim that the TNIV is a more accurate translation than the NASB or RSV, for example? If so, more explanation is required.

Here is another blurb (from Dr. Richard Patterson at Libery University):

Surely even the most casual observer must recognize the great changes that have taken place within the English language itself. Such developments have and continue to dictate that the changeless Word of God must nevertheless meet with accuracy, clarity and power the needs of a wide spectrum of groups with differing cultural backgrounds and educational levels. While one can find an occasional point of disagreement with the translation from the original texts, I know the translators and editors of the TNIV to be competent scholars who are concerned for the integrity of God's Word. Their careful work has produced a translation that takes its rightful place beside other versions of the Scriptures that are designed to meet the particular needs of a needy world.

I read this and it seems to me that Patterson is saying that the TNIV is one (of several) adequate translations for those who can't read English well!

Here is another endorsement, from Philip Yancey:

As the editor of the Student Bible, I've spent thousands of hours trying to help readers understand the NIV Bible. I'm thrilled to hear about the TNIV and its ability to help add clarity and impact to the study of God's World.

It seems to me that Yancey is saying he has heard about the TNIV but didn't actually read prior to making his "endorsement." (I notice he has not produced a version of his Student Bible based on the TNIV.)

On the other hand, I think a counter-argument could be made that I am overreading these endorsements. It is a common practice to exaggerate in book blurbs and many customers take them with a grain of salt. I think the effect of the endorsements is to argue that the TNIV is not a heretical translation (which is a point I certainly agree with.)

Matthew said...

Fair enough. Let's also remember that, ahem, not *all* blurbs are written by the people to whom they are attributed. I think I remember J.I. Packer making a statement about that once.

Peter Kirk said...

However, when one sees praise for the KJV -- or an older translation such as the RSV or NEB -- I believe it is sincere and not influenced by financial factors.

Anon, is there any kind of praise for any new translation which you would accept? or should we just write you off as a grumpy old man or woman who finds something to complain about in anything new from the last 40 years?

But perhaps I am a bit like you, because I was being rather similarly sceptical about the endorsements for "Pierced for our Transgressions".

Anyway, I am glad that you agree that TNIV is not heretical. That's a start, and I think a step further than the CBMW guys are prepared to go.

R. Mansfield said...

Matthew said, Let's also remember that, ahem, not *all* blurbs are written by the people to whom they are attributed. I think I remember J.I. Packer making a statement about that once.

This is true. There will be a blurb attributed to me in a Baptist publication this fall that is a bit of an amalgam of things I've said at various times. Since none of it was technically made up, I agreed to let it go on the advertisement.

On a different note, however, I've always wondered about J. I. Packer's endorsement/blurb on Donald Bloesch's Christian Foundation volume on eschatology. Bloesch is one of the few evangelicals I've ever read who suggested that passages such as 1 Peter 3 teach an opportunity for salvation after death. I can't imagine that this would fit in with Packer's theology.

anonymous said...

I don't think there is any endorsement I would find a publisher's site that I would trust: it is clear that such endorsements are winnowed and edited so that only favorable endorsements remain.

If it came through another channel (such as a personal mention or a mention in a classroom) I would trust an endorsement from a friend or trusted teacher. I also try to read all the footnotes in scholarly books, and often find myself reading some of the references quoted -- I suppose that is a very weak form of endorsement.

I would also gladly read a longer book review that laid out its analysis.

While these endorsements may not be free from bias, we usually know (at least something) of the biases of our friends and teachers, and journals and newspapers usually choose reviewers who are knowledgeable and ask them to list any conflict of interests (although this is a general rule, there are also unfortunate exceptions.) More to the point, in a longer review, by explaining why one reached a conclusion rather than simply stating the conclusion, the review reader can critically analyze the review and form her own opinion.

Matthew said...

I have to say that, of all the disagreements and debates I've seen on the internets, anonymous (whoever you are) has definitely been one of the most civil and gracious. Kudos!