Friday, June 29, 2007

embedded meaning

In Luke 11:7 the man whose friend wants to borrow bread from him says in the NIV:
Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.
It is revised in the TNIV to:
Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.
I consider this another example of an improvement of the TNIV over the NIV. The NIV is "literally" accurate, but to many readers today its wording can connote something along the lines of a Michael Jackson pajama party with children. And that was not what was going on in the setting of this story. In those days there was a common bed for poor families.

The NIV and translations like it which translate the Greek here literally communicate wrong connotation. And that is inaccurate translation. The TNIV communicates the essentials of the scene accurately and does not invite an unintended inference of a father's incestuous abuse of his children.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Motives and Bible translation

A Friend of Christ questions whether it has been right to question the motives of those who have translated the TNIV and ESV.

He concludes:
I think it's time we stop questioning the motives of those who want to bring us the Word, and look at the translations for what they are. Otherwise, we're not just hurting ourselves, but others as well. We who study this sort of thing need to be able to be objective in our recommendations, and not reject certain translations because we question the motives of the fallible people who made them.
I agree.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

innovative TNIV format

Today Michael Hanegan blogged about a new format for publication of the TNIV:
Check out this new exciting project from the International Bible Society!! It’s called “The Books of the Bible” and it features the entire text of the TNIV in a more theologically and chronologically sensitive order without chapter or verse numbers, footnotes, or multiple columns. Basically they want you to just read and pay attention to the Bible.
In the new format, the books of the Old Testament (called the First Testament in the new format) are grouped in a similar way to the traditional three sections of the Hebrew Bible, but the sections are now labeled as "Covenant History" (which includes not only the Hebrew Torah, but also the "former prophets", Joshua-Kings), "The Prophets," and "The Writings." The order of books within a section, however, differ from their order in the Hebrew Bible. The IBS format emphasizes chronology for its arrangement of the books. It does so also for the books of the New Testament.

The Books of the Bible will display the biblical text in a single column format, which I prefer.

Several books of the Bible in the new format are available now as free pdf downloads.

According to IBS, the new format will be available for purchase in August 2007. It can be pre-ordered after July 1 at the IBS phone order (1-800-524-1588) or online.

Click here to read more about the Books of the Bible. I plan to pre-order a copy.

Thursday, June 21, 2007 adds TNIV has added TNIV to its Bible search engine. This is good news, as more and more Bible search engines include the TNIV. I think it shows that the truth about the TNIV is gaining ground against the well-intentioned, but misinformed, attacks on the TNIV.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Is anything now impossible for God?

Chris Brauns argues that there are things which God cannot do. I'm not sure he has got this quite right - see my comment. Part of my argument is from Luke 1:37, which in NIV reads:
For nothing is impossible with God.
But in TNIV this verse has been changed to:
For no word from God will ever fail.
Why the change? Is it justified? The main issue is apparently with the Greek rema, which usually means "word" but sometimes, and especially in Luke's writings (also 1:65, 2:15,19,51; Acts 5:32, 10:37) has a weaker meaning "thing, happening, affair". So the NIV interpretation can certainly be jusitified. But then in Luke 1:38, 2:17,29,50, 5:5, 7:1, 9:45×2, 18:34, 20:26, 24:8,11; Acts 2:14, 5:20, 6:11,13, 10:22,44, 11:14,16, 13:42, 16:38, 26:25, 28:25 rema clearly refers to spoken words. It is most telling that 1:38 in the sense of spoken words immediately follows the ambiguous 1:37, although there must be a rapid shift in sense in 2:15,17,19 and 2:50,51.

The slight problem I see with the TNIV interpretation is that adunateo would normally mean "be impossible" rather than "fail". In fact this verb is found elsewhere in the New Testament only in Matthew 17:20, but the related adjective adunatos is more common. The meaning is almost always "impossible", although in Acts 14:8 and Romans 15:1 it means more like "weak, powerless".

So, literally the verse is "With God every word/matter will not be impossible". I would take this to mean something like "Nothing that God says he will do will be impossible for him to carry out". And the TNIV rendering effectively says the same thing.

But, lest anyone think that TNIV is weakening God by denying that he can do all things, that he is almighty, see Matthew 19:26 TNIV:
... with God all things are possible.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Generic "man" being misunderstood

I have just posted at Better Bibles Blog on how generic "man" in NIV and other translations is being misunderstood. I concluded my post with:
The sooner IBS and Zondervan phase out NIV and replace it by TNIV, the better.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Important Articles to Read

If you find that reading anti-TNIV material is convincing, I don't think your research is complete until you read Dr. Craig Blomberg's review of the TNIV. This review is provided in a link on the side of TNIV Truth as you scroll down. I think Blomberg's review is the most thorough and unbiased review I've read. Blomberg read the entire TNIV New Testament along side the NIV and his United Bible Society's Greek New Testament. If you read Blomberg first then the reviews at The CBMW, I think you have to go back to Blomberg afterwards. So many arguments about verses that sound convincing at The CBMW reviews are dealt with rather well by Blomberg. I have not read satisfactory counters to Blomberg.

Also, I recommend reading this commentary from Dr. Darrell Bock.

These are both long, but they are worth your time. Print them out and read them at your own pace.

It's obvious, I do not have a problem with the TNIV (I can find a verse or two or ten in every translation that I think is weaker than some other translation). But who am I? I'm not your Protestant Pope. Read both sides and decide for yourself.

This year I've been reading through the ESV. It's a fine Bible. Since the ESV has been known to be an Evangelical revision of the RSV, I've often been reading the RSV while listening to an audio version of the ESV. I've found this summary to be accurate. It reads a lot like the RSV.

Wikipedia states the ESV made changes in 5-10% of the text from the RSV. My Libronix software does verse comparisons and tells the percentage of difference between translations. I tried doing the entire RSV against the entire ESV. My computer doesn't pack enough punch to complete that comparison. However, based on my comparison while reading the RSV and listening to the ESV, Wikipedia may be fairly accurate at that point.

Next year, I plan on reading through the TNIV. I'm hoping to often do so while listening to audio of the NIV in order that I may become aware of all the differences between the two.

My conclusion at this point based on:
  • all the articles (and books) I've read
  • the debate I listened to between Grudem & Strauss
  • carrying around a TNIV and comparing it with what is in other Bibles that pastors read from
  • cross-referencing verses between other translations and the Greek texts I own
is that as people's NIV wears out and they decide it's time to purchase a new Bible, instead of buying a new NIV, I recommend they replace it with a TNIV.

I am enjoying it and am not troubled by the TNIV. The hoopla about it is for the most part generating heat, not light. There are other Bibles that deserve more negative attention than this one.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

TNIV XL customer reviews

The customer reviews of the TNIV XL (larger print) edition from Zondervan are interesting. I found them helpful.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

large print TNIV

I am in my mid-50s and my eyes are finding it more and more difficult to read small to medium font sizes. I have a pocket edition of the TNIV. Its print is far too small for comfortable reading. I have a hardback TNIV printed by Zondervan. It's about the size of a pew Bible. I also have a TNIV Study Bible. Both seem to use the same size print, less than 7 points, I believe. That, also, is too small for my eyes. I cannot read the text comfortably in either edition.

So I researched large print TNIV editions. There is a TNIV XL thinline edition which has a 9.6 point font which Zondervan calls "larger print". But their "larger print" is smaller than large print in many other Bibles. Then Rick Mansfield told me about a large print TNIV available from IBS, the copyright holder of the TNIV. I ordered it.

IBS ships by FedEx Ground. The Bible left the IBS warehouse in Colorado Springs, CO, on Monday afternoon, June 4. It was scheduled to arrive tomorrow, but got to me a day early. Finally, I have a TNIV with a print size that is comfortable for my eyes! From my comparisons with printouts at 10, 11, and 12 point sizes, the IBS large print is between 10 and 11 points in size.

Some of you may be like me, visually challenged, or at least visually challenged at this stage of life. My optometrist has told me I have "presbyoptic" eyes. He knew I was a linguist and enjoyed using that word with me. Anyway, for those of you who need larger print, I'll describe the TNIV edition which I received today.

The cover is attractive, a conservative, two-tone brown. The binding looks sturdy. This Bible easily lies open on a flat surface.

The font used is either Arial or a font very close to Arial, the same sans serif font I have seen in all TNIV Bibles, including those published by Zondervans.

The page format is two-column. With the larger print there are not very many words per line of print. In the poetic books average line length seems to be about 5 words. That's too few for me; I find so few words per line to be a distraction for smooth reading. I would prefer a one-column format for smoother reading.

There is no red print in this edition from IBS. Hurray! My eyes find it difficult to focus on red print in Bibles. The red of shimmers before my eyes and my eyes get stressed reading it. (How do publishers get a color to shimmer?!) I really don't need to see the words of Christ in red.

Pagination in the IBS large print edition does not match pagination of any other TNIV edition that I have. But pagination does match among several other TNIV editions, just not the ones I have.

Paper thickness seems fine in the IBS large print Bible. It feels more like a good quality book paper, thicker than thinner paper often used in Bibles. The paper in the IBS Bible has a glossy, smooth finish on it. The paper used in this IBS edition has a harder surface than the paper used in the TNIV hardback Bible I have published by Zondervan. The color of the IBS Bible paper is a creamier white than the white used for the pages of the TNIV Study Bible. The contrast between the black print and the background white is comfortable, not too highly contrastive as found in some books which use whiter paper.

I think my eyes might be able to read the TNIV XL Larger Print thinline Bible which is printed at 1 point less than that of the IBS Bible I received today. But I'm not sure. The proof of the pudding is in the ..., hmm, seeing? And it's not easy to locate a bookstore nearby where the TNIV XL is stocked to be able to see it for myself. Would any of you like to photocopy a page from a TNIV XL Bible and mail it to me?

Monday, June 4, 2007

CBT member on Shema post & comments

One of the oldest members of the NIV/TNIV Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) has responded to our post on the Shema and comments on the post. Here is his response, speaking as an individual, not for the CBT as a whole:

"Chemo head" has been so severe the past few weeks that I have been incapacitated. Today, hopefully, I can make some sense.

I cannot now respond to every item raised in your blog and the responses, but in general I must observe that the critics , at least the worst of them, show a serious deficiency in their understanding of the Hebrew (its idioms, and how it works), and in their understanding of the social system that developed the Hebrew language and which that language served. As for this latter, ancient Israel was not a community created by a large/small group of individuals through economic and political action. It was rather a community generated organically (family->clan->tribe->people).For that reason the people could be called/named after its patriarchal ancestor, and was so called/named regularly. When such was addressed by its progentor's name, it was both the community itself that was addressed collectively and its members destributively at the same time. And the language reflects that.

Allow me to work through the shema' in detail, with brief annotations. This will show how the language works: how the collective (and generic) [which is implicitly distributive also] can be and is referred to in pronouns and verb forms with either the singular or the plural without any difference in meaning.--the shema' is not a catechism of the individual, as "anon" claims, but is expressly (and grammaticaly) addressed to "Israel" (the people with whom Yahweh made covenant at Sinai), which is the antecedent of the pronouns (both independent and as integrated with the verbal forms) throughout the shema'. That is to say, here the pronouns, mostly singular but sometimes plural, refer to the people of Israel, collectively and/or distributively at the same time. This will be demonstrated by also adding some of the following narrative, where the same language is continued.
4 Hear (m.s.impv), ISRAEL (prop. n., m. s. col), Yahweh our (1st pl: Israel) God, Yahweh is one [see also the possible alternatives]. 5You (m.s.: Israel--all and each, and similarly in what follows) are to love Yahweh your (m.s.) God with all your (m.s.) heart and with all your (m.s.) nephesh and with all your (m.s.) might / strength / power. 6And these words/commands which I command you (m.s.) today are to be on your (m.s.) heart. 7And you (m.s.) are to recite them to your (m.s.) children and you (m.s.) are to speak of them when you (m.s.) are in your (m.s.) houses (pl. according the Mas. pointing) and when you are walking on the way (s. abstract generic ), and when you (m.s.) are lying down and when you (m.s.) are rising up. 8And you (m.s.) are to tie them for a sign on your (m.s.) hand/arms (pl. according to Mas. pointing), and they are to be philactories (pl) between your (m.s.) eyes. 9And you are to write them on the doorposts of your (m.s. ) houses (pl. according to Mas. pointing) and on your (m.s.) gates [pl.--city gates?].
10And it shall be when Yahweh your (m.s.) God brings you (m.s.) to the land which he swore to your (m.s.) fathers (pl), to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, to give to you (m.s.), great and pleasant cities (pl.) which you (m.s.) did not build, 11and houses (pl.) filled with all (s. col.) [kinds of] good (s. col.) [things] which you (m.s.) did not fill and (already) dug wells/cisterns (pl.) which you (m.s.) did not dig, vineyards (pl.) and olive groves (pl.) which you (m.s.) did not plant, and you (m.s.) eat and you (m.s.) are satisfied, 12guard (m.s.) yourself (m.s.) lest you (m.s.) forget Yahweh who brought you (m.s.) out of the land of Egypt, from the house (s.) of bondage (pl.). 13Yahweh your (m.s.) God you (m.s.) are to fear and him you (m.s.) are to serve and in his name you (m.s.) are to swear (your oaths). 14You ( are not to go after other gods from the gods of the peoples who are all around you (, 15for a jealous God is Yahweh your (m.s.) God who is in your (m.s.) midst, lest the anger of Yahweh your (m.s.) God flare up against you (m.s.) and he destroy you (m.s.) from the face of the ground. 16You ( are not to tempt Yahweh your ( God as you ( tempted him as Massah. 17Be sure to keep ( the commands of Yahweh your ( God and his statutes and decrees he commanded you (m.s.).
Note carefully all the annotations. One cannot read Hebrew forms/idioms as if they were English. Clearly, throughout this typical piece of Hebrew text, ISRAEL, the people delivered out of Egypt and covenanted with at Sinai is the community addressed (collectively and distributively), the people who constitute a community generated from their patriarchal ancestors, not created (through economic and/or political action) by a group (large or small) of individuals. That is what translators have to honor. FOR THAT REASON, RENDERING THE SINGULAR PRONOUNS AND VERBS WITH PLURALS IN ENGLISH THROUGHOUT SUCH PASSAGES IS ACCURATE TRANSLATION.

Many other matters could be addressed: the Hebrew use of the conjunctive waw, the Hebrew use of nephesh (as well as our modern uses of "soul" as in "heart and soul" or "body and soul" or "heart, soul, mind and strength," etc.), but I do not have the strength for it now.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

The Bible Experience: New Testament is the 2007 Audio Book of the Year

The Bible Experience, a dramatized recording of the TNIV, has taken top honors at this year's Audie Awards. (The Audies are to audio books what the Grammys are to music.)

Five years ago, Zondervan's NIV Audio Bible won an Audie in the inspirational category, but this year, the Audio Publishers Association named The Bible Experience the best of the best—in any category.

Congratulations, Zondervan and Inspired By. This is exciting news for the TNIV.

complementarian TNIV

The TNIV has been criticized as being an egalitarian and/or feminist Bible. One wonders how closely those making this accusation have actually read the TNIV. If you are a complementarian and wish to teach about complementarianism from the Bible, you can teach that from the TNIV as you would from any other version of the Bible. (And if you are an egalitarian, be sure to read the final paragraphs of this post.) Following is a post (with minor modifications) that I blogged some time ago on the Better Bibles Blog. I will add a few comments at the end, referencing the complementarian writing of Doug Moo, the current chairman of the CBT. which revised the NIV to become the TNIV.

Complementarians believe that men and women are of equal value, but complement each other with different God-appointed roles in the home and church. (Egalitarians believe that women and men are of equal value and can have the same roles in the home and church.) Are you a complementarian? Did you know that you can teach complementarianism from the TNIV, just as you can from another Bible version such as the ESV? This may surprise some complementarians who have attacked the TNIV, calling it a feminist Bible, a Bible for "feminazis", a Bible "soft" on biblical manhood and womanhood, a Bible that "neuters" masculinity, and boycotting it in Christian bookstores.

Let's examine what the TNIV actually says to see if it can be used to teach complementarianism. We'll compare what the TNIV says to the ESV. Some complementarians claim that the ESV promotes a biblical view of manhood and womanhood while the TNIV does not. Following are some key tenets of complementarianism, with Bible passages typically used to support them:

1. A husband is the head of his wife (Eph. 5:23):
For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. (TNIV)

For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. (ESV)
The TNIV and ESV teach headship of the husband identically in Eph. 5:23.

In 1 Cor. 11:3 the TNIV actually translates about headship of a woman more strongly than does the ESV:
But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. (TNIV)

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. (ESV)
The TNIV translates the Greek words gunaikos and aner of this verse as "woman" and "man," respectively. This is more literal and a broader (stronger) translation than the ESV which translates these Greek words as "wife" and "husband," respectively. The more restrictive translation of "[the head] of the wife is her husband" is footnoted in the TNIV but not found in the translated text itself.

2. A wife is to submit to her husband as to the Lord (Eph. 5:22):
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. (TNIV)

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (ESV)
The TNIV and ESV teach the same thing about submission.

3. Woman is the glory of man (1 Cor. 11:7):
A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. (TNIV)
For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. (ESV)
The TNIV and ESV not only have identical teaching in this verse, but identical wordings of "but woman is the glory of man."

4. Women are to be silent in church (1 Cor. 14:34-35):
Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. (TNIV)

the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. (ESV)
Again, the teaching is identical between the TNIV and ESV, and the wordings are nearly so. Neither is stronger than the other in what it states.

5. Women are not to exercise ecclesiastical authority over men or to teach men (1 Tim. 2:12):
I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. (TNIV)

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. (ESV)
Again, the meaning of the translation wordings from these two versions is identical, as far as I can tell. I don't sense a significant difference in meaning between the two wordings "assume authority" or "exercise authority." Dr. Wayne Grudem, however, does consider there to be a significant difference between these two wordings. He says that
the TNIV adopts a highly suspect and novel translation that gives the egalitarian side everything they have wanted for years in a Bible translation. It reads, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man” (italics added). If churches adopt this translation, the debate over women's roles in the church will be over, because women pastors and elders can just say, “I’m not assuming authority on my own initiative; it was given to me by the other pastors and elders.” Therefore any woman could be a pastor or elder so long as she does not take it upon herself to “assume authority.”
The TNIV and ESV both make it clear that Jesus was a male, not some androgynous human. Both versions refer to God with masculine pronouns. Both versions retain the biblical language text wording of God the Father, rather than as generic God the Parent.

As far as I know, those who accuse the TNIV of being a feminist translation or being influenced by feminism cannot support that claim from how passages traditionally used to teach complementarianism are worded. The TNIV is an accurate translation and does not deserve the criticism it has received from its opponents. It does not deserve to be boycotted by Christian booksellers who seem to believe its critics rather than being Bereans (Acts 17:11) who study the Bible (or any translation of it) carefully for themselves to find out if what people claim about it are true or not.

UPDATE: Dr. Wayne Grudem, probably the most vocal critic of the TNIV, has written:
The TNIV in particular has changed the translation of many of the key passages regarding women in the church, and I would find it almost impossible to teach a Biblical “complementarian” view of the role of women in the church from the TNIV.
But complementarianism can be taught from the TNIV just as egalitarianism can be. Both viewpoints can be taught from any English Bible version. I do not know what Dr. Grudem is referring to when he says that the "TNIV in particular has changed the translation of many of the key passages regarding women in the church." I would like to see a list of such verses and an explanation for how their translation has been changed from other Bible versions.

I disagree with Dr. Grudem's claim about the TNIV. I suspect that the complementarians on the TNIV translation committee would disagree also, starting with its chairman, Doug Moo, who has written an article defending complementarianism. It appears in the anthology Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood which may be downloaded for free from the complementarian CBMW website. Other authors in the anthology include, among others, Dr. Grudem, his co-author, Dr. Poythress, with whom he has written a book against the TNIV, Thom Schreiner, and D.A. Carson.

Does the TNIV slant the teachings of the Bible toward egalitarianism or feminism, as its critics claim? No, it does not. But a claim of a feminist bias in the TNIV, repeated often enough, is believed by many who do not study something carefully enough themselves. This blog attempts to set the record straight and tell the truth about the TNIV.

Now, if you are an egalitarian, I hope you were able to read all the way through this post without feeling betrayed by the TNIV. Because another truth about the TNIV, or any other Bible version for that matter, is that you can teach egalitarism from the Bible, if that is your belief, just as you can teach complementarianism from the Bible. The Bible is simply the Bible. We come to it, we read it, we attempt to understand it, we interpret it, often trying to be fair but sometimes bringing our own presuppositions to the sacred text, we draw conclusions from what we read in the Bible. And yet, throughout the centuries of Bible study and scholarship humans have drawn different conclusions from the Bible. This is normal. We are humans, trying to understand a text which was not written as a systematic theological textbook. It was not written to definitively solve all the difficult theological questions. We humans want definitive solutions. We crave systematic and categorical answers.

If you give the TNIV a fair hearing (or reading), you should find that it teaches biblical truth as well as any other Bible version, and more accurately and clearly than many.