NIV, TNIV, and Five Points for One of My Faithful Readers

A few days ago I offered five points to the first person to note in the comments why this juxtaposition was counter to my expectations:

NIV 1Co 7:26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are.

TNIV 1Co 7:26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is.

One Mr. Brian Collins of Taylors, SC, got it right:

Because the NIV translated ἀνθρώπῳ in a gender-neutral way and the TNIV translated it as “man.” Of course, the TNIV’s translation is obviously correct since the next verse says, Δέδεσαι γυναικί; Μὴ ζήτει λύσιν. Λέλυσαι ἀπὸ γυναικός; Μὴ ζήτει γυναῖκα.

On the other hand, in 1 Cor. 7:29 the NIV translates Τοῦτο δέ φημι, ἀδελφοί, ὁ καιρὸς συνεσταλμένος ἐστίν• τὸ λοιπόν, ἵνα καὶ οἱ ἔχοντες γυναῖκας ὡς μὴ ἔχοντες ὦσιν as, “What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none,” and the TNIV translates it as, “What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who are married should live as if they were not.”

Did you catch that? One of the tools in the TNIV’s translation toolbox is turning third-person singulars (which must carry gender: he, him, she, her) into second persons (which don’t carry gender: you, your). But here it’s the NIV doing that while the TNIV specifies masculinity.

To be a good judge of the quality of a translation you need to be an observant exegete—like Mr. Brian Collins. And you can’t just call the TNIV “gender-neutral” and leave it at that. The issues are more complex.

This Brian appears to be a regular reader of my blog. Thanks for the enlightenment, faithful reader! Five points for you!

BTW: One commenter, one Duncan Johnson, one next door neighbor of one Brian Collins, asked if the TNIV is on BibleWorks. Answer? I put it there for myself, and you can, too. E-mail me for more details.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

2 thoughts on “NIV, TNIV, and Five Points for One of My Faithful Readers”

  1. So should we be hesitant to discourage people from using the TNIV? When the version was first being released Focus on the Family had a guest speaker strongly discouraging people from using the TNIV and encouraged instead the use of the ESV and NASB. I haven’t looked into it very deeply but figured if mainstream evangelicals were discouraging it as well as people in our circles it is probably not worth considering. I have viewed it as an unnecessary translation that Zondervan created to convince a saturated NIV market to upgrade to the “latest and greatest”.
    Guess I am going off topic, but I don’t know Greek so . . . 🙂

  2. “should we be hesitant to discourage people from using the TNIV?”

    Well, remember that Mark was surprised when he saw that the TNIV translated this verse with the gender-specific “man.”

    I won’t try to speak for Mark, or suggest that I’m thoroughly familiar with the TNIV (I’m not), but it seems that 1 Cor. 7:26 is an exception to the TNIV’s general rule for translation of gender-specific terms.

    “I haven’t looked into it very deeply but figured if mainstream evangelicals were discouraging it as well as people in our circles it is probably not worth considering.”

    I don’t think you’re far astray with that line of reasoning. As far as this issue goes, you would want to judge the TNIV on the basis of its translation of gender-specific terms on the whole rather than on the basis of its translation of this one term in 1 Cor. 7:26.

Leave a Reply