What Now Shall I Read? A Case for the NIV

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A very special thank you to Mark Stevens from his blog, Scripture, Ministry, and the People of God, for joining us in this project, “What now Shall I Read?” You can read the first post on my search for a new Bible translation here, but now, let’s give Mark a very warm political Jesus welcome as he tells me why he chose the NIV version.

–    Why the NIV/TNIV is for me! (by Rev. Mark Stevens)

Firstly let me say thank you to Chad for the opportunity to guest post and for asking me to consider
the reasons behind my choosing and liking the NIV family of translations.

A little history…

I have to be honest and say that I was never a real fan of the NIV 1984 and for many years after
I became a Christian I used the RSV and then moved on to a New King James Reference Bible.
However, after years of abuse study its health declined and I set about trying to find a new bible. I
had no idea it would take me years before I settled on the TNIV.

When I entered seminary everyone was using and recommending the NRSV (because N.T. Wright
recommended it) so I bought one and when I entered my current ministry I splurged and bought
myself a Harper Collins NRSV Study Bible which turned out to be the worst Bible I have ever owned.
After a year or so of trudging my way through the NRSV and trying to ignore its woodenness and
poor readability, I gave up and began my search again.

As I mentioned, until I purchased the TNIV I had never used an NIV with any regularity. Everywhere
I went it was bemoaned and derided. Then one day I was speaking with Ben Witherington about
my dilemma and he suggested I try the TNIV. He told me it was a vast improvement upon the NIV
and many of the elements of the NIV in which preachers are often hear to say, “Now the NIV says
here…but it should read” were gone. Furthermore, it used gender inclusive/accurate language which
was something I had liked about the NRSV. I had never considered it because the “Today” made me
think it was on par with the Message or NLT. So, as my ordination approached, I decided to request a
TNIV Reference Bible as my Ordination gift.

So why did I chooses the NIV family of Bibles?

My first reason for choosing the TNIV relates to gender language decisions. In all honesty, gender
inclusive/accurate language is something I had not considered until I had a daughter. When the two
of us read a story she understands “man” to be a male, not a word that means human being and this
will be reinforced once she starts attending school. In Australia the use of “man” is not acceptable
as a word for human being. She could quite easily take a verse such as 2 Tim 3:17 literally if were to
read the NKJV or even the NIV 84 and understand it to apply only to males. There is much more I
could say about this…

My second reason relates to the TNIV/NIV’s readability. In my opinion anyone who uses an English
translation to study Scripture forensically is only kidding themselves. Our English translations are
great for personal study and understanding the overall narrative of the bible, however, if a person
wants to study the text in any depth then it should be done in the original language. Therefore, if I
am going to use my English translation to read why would I choose something that is not naturally
readable to me? Furthermore, I preach from the TNIV and it is exceptionally good aurally.

Thirdly, the CBT are, in my opinion, the best group of Evangelical scholars going around and certainly

the translation team I know the most about and therefore trust. One of the reasons I chose not to go
with the ESV related to the very strong theological opinions of some of the translation committee.
Now I know that I can never know everything every translator believes but for me, the CBT are the
closest to my own theological position. I have read commentaries by the likes of Fee, Mounce, Moo,
France and Waltke and I feel like I know them.

Finally, my main reason for choosing the TNIV is that I like it! When I first read it, it felt right. I
liked the balance between formal and functional equivalence. I have no problem with any other
translation. I may disagree with certain decisions their committees have made but overall all
translation teams have worked hard and share an obvious love for God’s word and therefore should
be respected.

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11 thoughts on “What Now Shall I Read? A Case for the NIV

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  3. Optimistic Chad Post author

    Mark, what are your thoughts about the NIV2011? are you sticking with the TNIV, although it is out of print? Thoughts on the gender issue in the NIV2011?

    Also, thanks for the bits about your daughter and the use of “man” in Australia. My daughter is now 7, and these gender issues ate now much more poignant than they were to me 10 years ago (my bad of course).

    1. Mark Stevens

      I haven’t had a really good read yet but I think it will be an improvement upon the TNIV (I can’t believe I am saying that). At first I was irked by the use of mankind but I have come to accept that for now it is probably the best we have because human being is so awkward. They have dropped man and retained 91% of the TNIV.

      I will keep using the TNIV as I have a number of copies including my personal bible the kids gave to me and all of our pew bibles are TNIV (About 2 weeks before it was announced they were dropping it).

      BTW, sorry about the formatting – I’m not sure what happened)

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