Sunday, October 28, 2007

Spiritual gifts are not just for men

The NIV wording of Rom. 12:6-8 sounds like spiritual gifts are only given to men:
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
All other English versions that I am aware of, including KJV, RSV, ESV, NASB, TNIV, and HCSB do not insert the word "man", as the NIV translators did. There is nothing in the underlying Greek which corresponds to the word "man". The TNIV removes "man", creating greater accuracy:
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
There are several other places in the NIV text where the word "man" is used in a way that is not accurate, and other translations, including those conforming to complementarian standards such as the ESV, HCSB, and NASB, have an accurate translation of the Greek.

One of the points missed in debates over the TNIV is that it was necessary to revise the NIV to remove such inaccuracies. The ESV and HCSB, two recent versions which specifically follow the male-oriented Colorado Springs Guidelines, are more accurate than the NIV for those verses where the NIV translators used the word "man" when the Greek is not referring to a male adult.

HT: Christian Bible on Wikipedia Deletions blog

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Mike Aubrey's series on NIV/TNIV differences

Mike Aubrey is continuing posts on differences between the NIV and TNIV. Today he posted on differences he finds in the Pentateuch.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mark Strauss on NIV/TNIV degrees of literalness

In response to recent posts about whether the TNIV is more or less literal than the NIV, Mark Strauss, a member of the CBT, has emailed the following and given his permission to post it:
I cannot say statistically whether the TNIV is any more literal than the NIV. That is never in issue in discussing translation possibilities among the committee. It is always the question of what is more exegetically accurate and what communicates most clearly in English. I think at times the TNIV is more formal equivalent than the NIV and at times it is less. But there is no intention to go either way.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Was this written in your behalf?

My eyes landed on part of a verse in the TNIV today which had a preposition that didn't sound right to me. I read it to my wife and it didn't sound right to her either. I later checked a dictionary and discovered something. But before I tell you what I discovered, would you please read the following words and vote in the new poll in the margin whether the bold italicized words sound good to you in your dialect of English. Please do not check a dictionary before you vote:
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
(UPDATE: Commenter Martin Shields discovered the same thing I did: some dictionaries state that there has been a difference observed by some people between "in behalf of" and "on behalf of". As you can see from the results of Martin's googling and the poll results for this issue, that distinction has been lost for a large majority of English speakers. I am nearly 60 years old. I was taught English by a prescriptivist mother and prescriptivist teachers at school, but I had never heard of the dictionary distinction until a few minutes before I wrote this blog post. Oh, the wording in question is from Is. 58:10, in both the NIV and TNIV.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

NIV/TNIV Comparison

Mike Aubrey ran his computer all night last night, as it checked for differences between the NIV and TNIV. Read his post to learn the results.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The TNIV translator vs. the TNIV boosters

Iyov continues the discussion about whether the TNIV is more or less literal than the NIV in his post The TNIV translator vs. the TNIV boosters. I have emailed Mark Strauss and Gordon Fee, co-authors of "How to Choose a Translation For All Its Worth," in which they speak to this point (cited in Iyov's post), to find out more definitively whether they think the TNIV is more or less literal than the NIV. (UPDATE: Mea culpa: Iyov actually quoted from the earlier book, updated since publication of the TNIV, which Fee co-authored with Douglas Stuart, "How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth.") Both Fee and Strauss are also members of the CBT which has revised the NIV to become the TNIV, although Strauss became a member after the TNIV was published. He has, however, followed issues concerning production of the TNIV very closely and will be part of future TNIV revision decisions (toward which each of you can also contribute).

And you, too, can weigh in on this issue, both in comments to this post, as well as in a new poll which I have just put in the margin to this blog.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

complete Bible Experience

Pat at kata ta biblia blog has posted on The Bible Experience now being available as both the Old and New Testaments. He also reacts to what he hears in the recording.

super discounted TNIV price

Jeff at Scripture Zealot has wanted a copy of the TNIV. He was delighted to locate one at a 77% discount price. And you, too, can purchase this thinline Italian leather edition for only $5.99 (U.S.) plus shipping.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Is the TNIV more literal than the NIV?

A blog visitor comments on the preceding post:

The problem that I have with statements that the TNIV is more literal than the NIV is that I have found no proof of this. All the Bible charts that I have seen have listed the NIV as being more literal than the TNIV such as this chart

This is an important enough issue that I have decided to reply in a post rather than a comment.

The degree of literalness charts, such as the one linked to by the visitor, are subjective, based on what the opinions of the chart maker are. In general, such charts are accurate, but we need objective proof, to help us break away from the subjectivity of opinions. Objective evidence has to come from extensive comparison of specific wordings among Bible versions.

I have tried to do such quantified comparisons. There is more work to be done, but the general trends on my charts accurately reflect relative degrees of literalness among Bible versions:
  • TNIV is 2% more literal than NIV for translation of accusatives.
  • TNIV is 3% more literal than NIV for translation of datives.
  • TNIV is 3% less literal than the NIV for translation of genitives; progress has been made since the NIV was published in understanding how better to translate genitives to English.
  • TNIV is 8% more literal than NIV for translation of New Testament idioms.
  • My comparison of Old Testament idioms is in progress so figures are not reliable.
There is more research that needs to be done, but I am rather sure that further empirical studies will affirm the claim that the TNIV is more literal than the NIV. Bible scholar Craig Blomberg agrees. He has shown that the TNIV is more literal than the NIV in a number of specific passages:
Non-gender-related revisions [in the TNIV], however, move from a less literal to a more literal rendering of the Greek approximately three times as often as the reverse.
Contrary to popular lay opinion, the TNIV is more literal than the NIV. The translators of the TNIV have "tightened up" a number of NIV wordings which had been criticized over the years for being too interpretive or dynamically equivalent.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Can the TNIV Be Used for "In-Depth" Study?

In the comments of the previous post, a reader asked this question: Can someone please explain to me how you can use the TNIV for in-depth study? I love the TNIV, but I am having a hard time using it for deep study because of the dynamic equivalence. I don't know if this is a mindset or an actual problem.

Well, I don't think it's an actual problem (for which I'll make a case below). However, if it's mindset, it may come from using formal equivalent translations for so long. I know because I've been there. Some days I'm still there, but I've made lots of progress!

Really, it may be difficult to answer your question definitively because (1) I don't know what you were using before the TNIV, and (2) I don't exactly have a definition for what you mean by in-depth or deep study. Nevertheless, I'll make some assumptions and answer the best I can.

First, let me make a clarification at the very beginning. In my reading of the TNIV, I don't consider it a pure dynamic equivalent translation at all. I consider it a median translation, sometimes more literal and sometimes more dynamic according to the decisions of the translators (and all translation requires such decisions, even interpretive decisions). On one side of the spectrum, one can find fairly literal translations such as the NASB or the NKJV. On the other end, one can find good examples of dynamic equivalency in translations such as the GNT and the CEV.

In the middle are translations such as the NIV/TNIV and the HCSB. The NRSV is a bit closer to that median range than was the RSV, and the NLT2 is not quite as far down the road of dynamic equivalency as was the NLT1.

You might even want to check out an old post of mine, "TNIV More Literal than the NASB?" where I point out renderings where the TNIV is more literal. It's so not throughout, but the TNIV is more literal in some places meaning these categories are not always hard and fast. And I've also demonstrated a number of times that the TNIV is much more formal/literal in its renderings than the NIV.

As for doing in-depth study, let me point to the example of the NIV. The reality is that there are more commentaries and reference books in the modern period based on the NIV than any other translation, and as I've pointed out, it's more dynamic than the TNIV is!

Granted most of your more "in-depth" commentaries will deal directly with the original languages, sometimes offering the writer's own translation (WBC) and sometimes not (ICC). But a number of mid-level commentaries will use the NIV and still interact with the original languages to a certain extent. The NAC is an example of that. The body of the commentary itself is based on the NIV, but the writers are free to interact with Greek and Hebrew in the footnotes, allowing the reader to go more in-depth as he or she wants to based on knowledge and ability. I might also point to the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, another mid-level series, and this based on the NLT2 (much further along the dynamic path than the TNIV) which is an attempt to facilitate serious study using a non-formal/literal translation.

Another reason for the success of the original NIV for serious study was the early development of the Goodrick-Kohlenberger numbering system which connected the translation back to the original Greek and Hebrew. If you've ever spent any time with it, you know that the GK system is more than simply the NIV version of Strong's dictionaries. It not only fixed Strong's but improved it since the GK system takes the connections of homonyms and related words into account in its system. The development of the GK numbering system for the NIV allowed access to the underlying Greek and Hebrew of the translation to anyone whether they had studied original languages or not. This gave access to significant technical works such as the NIDOTTE to all, even if the user hadn't studied Hebrew.

So, what about the TNIV? Well, keep in mind that it's a new translation. But I do know that a project is well underway to apply the GK system to the TNIV. Once that is done, the reader can have instant access to numerous reference works tied directly to the TNIV, even taking advantage of those older works written in relation to the NIV. Plus we'll be able to have tagged electronic editions of the TNIV in computer software. Currently, I still use the NASB as my default translation in Accordance because it's tagged, but I'll gladly switch the default to a tagged TNIV when it becomes available. [Note: I don't use an original language text for my default in Accordance because I prefer to have the software open to a text containing both testaments].

Also the forthcoming second edition of the Readers Greek New Testament is going to reflect the Greek text of the TNIV, a welcome update to the current edition.

All of this to say, I believe the TNIV is set quite well for serious study. So, is it a mindset issue, after all? Well, maybe. There's still a popular notion that literal = more accurate, and that
simply is not true. I've tried to demonstrate this a number of times, too. I would especially recommend two blog posts I wrote a while back:

And for a significant study of the issue, I still like the book Challenge of Bible Translation edited by Scorgie, Strauss, and Voth.

Finally, while it's good to have a primary translation (I'm working very hard to make the TNIV mine), truly in-depth/deep study is going to require reading multiple translations in parallel. Since I usually pursue any significant study of the Bible in front of Accordance these days, I have a "first tier" of sorts that I have open before me as I study. This includes either the Greek or Hebrew and then my preferred English translations: NASB, TNIV, HCSB, and NLT2. The original languages plus a variety of translation approaches help me to study and understand the passage better. I also have a second tier that I examine if I have time including the ESV, NRSV, JPS (which sometimes moves to the first tier on OT passages), NET, KJV and others.

I hope I've helped to answer the question. Further questions and your comments are welcome and encouraged.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Dig deeper and compare

A few days ago I learned how to compare three versions of the Bible produced by the CBT (Committee on Bible Translation): NIV, NIrV (reader's version), and TNIV. And you can compare them as well by clicking on this link.

Recently I have become more interested in the NIrV due to the work of Tim Carr. Tim Carr is an English teacher who submits more TNIV revision suggestions than anyone else to the online form for those suggestions. He often finds that an NIrV wording sounds better to him than a TNIV wording. (You can read Tim's suggestions, and those of everyone else who has posted them, by viewing TNIV revision suggestions submitted so far.)

Here is a screen shot of Rom. 12:1 in the three versions:

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Dig Deeper

The advertisement above ran in a recent issue of Christianity Today. You probably cannot make out the actual copy in the ad, but it says:

There are many reasons the Today’s New International Version Study Bible from Zondervan is the first choice for serious students of Scripture. Verse-by-verse notes. Detailed historical and archaeological commentary. The incredibly detailed topical index. Satellite-generated maps. The clarity and accuracy of the TNIV translation. For digging deeper, there’s no better choice than the Zondervan TNIV Study Bible.

I like this ad for a number of reasons:

  1. I'm glad to see Zondervan promoting the TNIV in an Evangelical publication like Christianity Today. This is yet another move by the publisher that directly addresses one of the concerns I voiced in my "open letter" earlier this year.
  2. As it says in the ad, the TNIV can be used by "serious students of scripture," going beyond any assumption that it is strictly a popular translation. My reading of the TNIV, especially in some of its choices away from its predecessor, the NIV has demonstrated some very significant wrestling with texts on the part of the translators. Wayne Meeks' choice to use the TNIV in his second edition of The Writings of St. Paul, a scholarly and essentially non-evangelical work, also confirms the strong academic potential of the TNIV. But more will have to be done, which I'll mention in a moment.
  3. Ultimately, this ad is not simply highlighting the TNIV, but more specifically, The TNIV Study Bible. This is currently the Bible I teach from at church, and find it to be the best choice for that task among the current options. I've never carried a study Bible with me before the TNIVSB, but it's a good choice until I can get a wide margin text edition from either Zondervan or Cambridge one day. When I first saw the picture above, I wondered if someone from Zondervan snuck into my house and took a picture out of my copy. Nevertheless, the TNIVSB is worthy of this kind of exposure. If you haven't already, see my review here.
Perhaps now that the TNIV has been out a while and can be evaluated on its own merits as opposed to the rhetoric of an uncharitable disinformation campaign, ads like this may spur potential readers to take another look. This is all well and good, but where do we need to go from here? How do we dig even deeper, to borrow from the theme of the ad?

I would suggest that we need to see more advertisements like this, but we need to see some specifically with newly written testimonials from academics like Don Carson on the Evangelical side of scholarship and perhaps even someone like Wayne Meeks representing the non-evangelical world as well. I've found that many who want to have nothing to do with the TNIV simply go on the rhetoric they've heard. When I start mentioning names like Carson or Timothy George or even TNIV translators such as Doug Moo, Bruce Waltke, and Gordon Fee, those who think they won't like the TNIV often have to stop and really consider why they think this way. Throwing respectable names around doesn't solve the issue of whether a translation is reliable or not, but would hopefully cause others to examine why these individuals have endorsed the translation.

There have been rumors, denials, and maybe's floating around a while, but I'd really like to see the TNIV expanded to include the Deuterocanonicals. Let me reiterate to those who haven't heard me say it, that I do not consider these books to be inspired Scripture. Nonetheless, the Deuterocanonicals are essential for a comprehensive understanding of the context of the New Testament. Further, there's a long Protestant tradition of including the Deuterocanonicals, or "apocrypha" in Bible translations, often in a section between the testaments. These writings were in Luther's Bible, the KJV, the RSV and many others along the years. If we want to see more works like that of Meeks' using the TNIV, this will be essential.

Finally, while I like the ad above, I immediately noticed that only a small section of a TNIVSB page appears. If the camera had zoomed out, we would immediately see that there's no space to include notations to go along with those highlights and markings. One can highlight a Bible as much as one wants, but highlights alone are useless (in my opinion) without accompanying notes. I know that regular readers will perceive me as a broken record by this point, but I still suggest that a small percentage of TNIV users, specifically teachers and pastors want wide-margins in which to write their own notes. Yes, I know the upcoming TNIV Reference Bible is designed for teachers and pastors, but it will not have margins wide enough to completely fulfill this need. Those who want a wide margin TNIV will continue to look for something more. Hopefully publishers realize these users are the gatekeepers' gatekeepers.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

new url for TNIV revisions suggestions

We've been getting some helpful suggestions for revising the TNIV. I will forward them to the CBT by the end of this year. But we could be getting many more suggestions. Whenever you are reading the TNIV, if you spot a wording which you think could be improved. please consider posting it to the list so it can be forwarded to the CBT.

You can click on the posting link in the margin of this blog, or if you prefer, you can use a new url which will redirect you to the revision suggestions form:
(UPDATE: If that url doesn't work for you, click here. Also see the TNIV revisions links in the margin of this blog.)

Please feel free to distribute this new url widely on your own Internet websites or blogs and in email messages to friends.

The form does not ask for your email address, so you will not be spammed by the Bravenet service which hosts the form.