This week Zondervan announced that it will phase out the Today’s New International Version (TNIV) of the Bible, which has been in print for only four years. The shortened lifespan of this Bible is a result of attacks launched by critics who believe the TNIV was driven by “political-correctness.” Yet, many of us believe the TNIV is biblically correct. Still, the debate over the TNIV was so divisive among evangelicals that its guardians decided that the best path forward is to revise the NIV, which will eventually eclipse and replace the TNIV. Many of the revisions noted in the TNIV, as well as an additional 1,200 revisions, will be incorporated into the update of the NIV, its first in twenty-four years, scheduled for completion by 2011.
Sensitive to current English usage and guided by the most recent tools of biblical scholarship, the focus of the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) is to make the beloved (yet dated) NIV accessible and intelligible to modern English readers through a complete update. Because of this, CBT scholars stand in a long tradition of Bible translators who, like Paula and Jerome in the fourth century, made the ancient texts understandable to the readers of their day.
While the TNIV controversy is a sad page in evangelical history, both sides of this debate might remember that as evangelicals we share a passion for and commitment to evangelism and missions, despite our differences on Bible translation. Because there are so many who do not know the love of Christ, by careful stewardship of this effective translation, we update a Bible that reaches millions around the globe. And by doing so we all place the cross at the center of our concerns as evangelicals—an ideal that guided the missionary and evangelistic service of evangelicals like Lottie Moon, Catherine Booth, Frances Willard, and Sojourner Truth.
Christ prayed for our unity as brothers and sisters, asking the Father that we – the members of his body – might be one, even as he and the Father are one (John 17:11). In gratitude for our new life in Christ, let us pray for reconciliation in Christ’s body. Pray also for the CBT, Zondervan, and Biblica (who own the NIV copyright) as they strive to advance a biblically accurate and comprehensible NIV. Do communicate graciously with them at www.nivBible2011.com, where you may read more about these developments and submit your humble questions and concerns. They are eager to hear from you.