This has probably been a long time coming. I repent of some of my arguments against the use of Today’s New International Version that I used in a paper presented a year ago for Dr. Russell Moore’s Systematic Theology 1 class and, subsequently, posted in abridged form here on my blog. While I still think that the TNIV sometimes oversteps its boundaries a bit with the use of gender language, I do not think, overall, that any of this language dramatically alters the meaning of the passages and certainly does not alter the meaning of the Scriptures as a whole.
Rick Mansfield, a doctoral candidate here at SBTS who also has a background in English, engaged in a lively discussion with me on my posts regarding this issue. He brought up several valid points, and I suggest the reader look back to those postings as much for the benefit of his arguments as my own.
We are never going to achieve perfection in English translation. Both the TNIV and the ESV have their flaws. The TNIV uses excellent modern English, though it may occasionally become too loose to convey a theologically rich term or use an arguable singular “they/their” in order to avoid making a phrase gender-specific that is not. The ESV uses a lot of archaic phrasing, if not terminology, which sometimes ends up with beautiful but ultimately passive and slightly confounding statements. If the TNIV is slightly too informal at times, the ESV is certainly overly formal. Of course, the text of the Bible in its original languages is anything but static. There are passages of great literary prose and poetry and also very colloquial writings. Until we understand this, we can’t understand how difficult coming up with a good, solid English translation of the Bible really is.
Lastly, I take the translators of the TNIV at their word. There are several notable scholars associated with that translation whose motives it would be laughable to question for introducing inclusive language into the translation. Drs. Mark Strauss, Douglas Moo, Kenneth Barker, Craig Blomberg and others are among the top scholars in their field and have repeatedly shown themselves to be dedicated, orthodox Evangelicals who love their Lord. Again, although I still have some reservations regarding certain passages in the TNIV (as I do in any particular version), it is anything but a bad translation. Indeed, throughout most of the translation, it is some of the best use of English language that is represented among translations of the Scriptures today.
Unfortunately, the TNIV has gotten a lot of bad press because of its reception with groups such as the Southern Baptist Convention. My apologies if I ever stated outright that the TNIV was a terrible translation. Perfect? By no means. Flawed? Of course. And so are the ESV, NASB, HCSB, NLT, original NIV, and pretty much all other translations out there.