I heard about the controversy over the "gender-neutral" language in the TNIV New Testament after it was published in 2002. After becoming aware of some of the problem passages in the NIV, I became interested in some of the more modern translations such as the ESV and HCSB. I did not give much consideration to the TNIV because of the concerns I had heard expressed about it. At the same time, I appreciated the advice provided in How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth with regard to the value of "functionally equivalent" translations. When the entire TNIV Bible was published earlier this year, I decided to purchase a copy. I understood that it had corrected many of the "problem passages" from the NIV. Moreover, I reasoned that the TNIV would be easier to read along with in church than the ESV or HCSB because the NIV is still the most common text I hear from the pulpit. After reading the TNIV New Testament, I wondered what the basis was for all of the controversy. I soon discovered some of the following websites that addressed the issue:

Against the TNIV:

Defending the TNIV:

After reviewing these arguments, I discovered a 3-volume blog at the following website that I believe provides some valuable insights into the relevant issues:


Having read this material, I am persuaded that the TNIV is one of the better "functional equivalent" translations available today. I believe it serves as an excellent compliment to "formal equivalent" translations such as the ESV. Accordingly, I believe the 'anti-TNIV' stance represents an overreaction that has the potential to dissuade people from benefiting from a valuable translation. Since my fellowship of churches has used the NIV so extensively and since most members are able to quote most effectively from the NIV, I believe it would be a mistake to dismiss the TNIV simply because of the controversy associated with it. Indeed, the TNIV has improved upon the NIV in numerous passages. While I do believe it is preferable to study from a "formal equivalent" translation such as the ESV, I also believe there is much to be gained from the TNIV, especially for those of us who are most capable of quoting from the NIV. For these reasons, I would encourage the use of the TNIV in spite of the controversy associated with it. -- John Lang

Thank you for your comments and suggestions. I will put the TNIV on my own Bible reading list. (This year I am working through the NET, and afterwards I hope to read the ESV and ISV). And you are right--people stubbornly support their favorite translation against all others, especially those problematic "new-fangled" versions that appear on the scene every generation!

Update: Since this article was written in 2005, I have now read the TNIV, as well as the ESV (3x), the HCSB (4x), but not the ISV (one day!).

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