A Response to “Why the TNIV Bible?” -- By: John Mark N. Reynolds

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 10:2 (Fall 2005)
Article: A Response to “Why the TNIV Bible?”
Author: John Mark N. Reynolds


A Response to “Why the TNIV Bible?”1

John Mark N. Reynolds

Director, Torrey Honors Institute
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Biola University, La Mirada, California

Here is the argument, such as it is, supplied by Zondervan for why we need a new translation2 (Note: I have edited a book with Zondervan and think they are swell folk. Their comments are in italics). They say,

Perhaps the most important reason to produce a new translation is to reach today’s generation of 18 to 34-year-olds, a generation that is leaving the church in record numbers.. .. Part of the reason for this mass exodus is that today’s generation thinks differently than previous generation [sic].

I dispute this as a generalization. What do we mean by a different way of thinking? There is not a different way of thinking. An equally possible hypothesis: There are students who are badly educated, post-literate, and unable to make good arguments. There is a tiny group of post-modern scholars in evangelical circles, pushing ideas passé in most of the Academy, who provide a wash of academic respectibility for this disaster because it suits their desire to change the propositions of theology. Of course it has nothing to do with translation any way. The Bible is what it is. It is not going to get more “story like” or less propositional to please today’s young adults.

For example, they’re more likely to relate to stories and personal experiences than to traditional expressions of propositional truth. For them, authentic religion is a [sic] much about HOW they live as WHAT they believe.

Well, good. Both ideas are important. I seem to recall people saying this about my generation as well. Why not teach them the value of both?

While older forms of English may not present a problem for some readers, they can pres-

ent barriers to understanding and fully engaging the Bible for today’s generation because they’ve grown up using more contemporary English.

When was this not true? Why suddenly does this common occurrence of language change demand a new translation? Every generation of young people has their own jargon and identity. Yet in American history, when the Bible was most respected and read, there was actually a giant gulf between the language of the Bible and that of the youth. This was true of every generation in the USA up to recent times. No one demanded their Bible speak as they did in order to go to church. No one demanded a Bible in West Virginia dialect. No one demanded ...

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