I received my copy of the International Bible Society’s new “presentation” (their word) of Today’s New International Version, The Books of the Bible. They call it a new “presentation” because they’ve made a number changes from the standard presentation of the Bible. From the website:
- chapter and verse numbers are removed from the text (a chapter-and-verse range is at the bottom of each page) individual books are presented with the literary divisions that their authors have indicated
- footnotes, section headings and other supplementary materials have been removed from the text (translators’ notes are available at the back of each book)
- the books of the Bible have been placed in an order that provides more help in understanding, based on literary genre, historical circumstance and theological tradition
- single books that later translations or tradition divided into two or more books are made whole again
- single-column setting that clearly and naturally presents the literary forms of the Bible’s books
The idea, in a nutshell, is smoother reading. I particularly find the single column and the removal of chapter numbers and heading and verse numbers appealing. I find them distracting—they give reading the Bible a bit of a stop-and-go feel, which I don’t like. It occurred to me after ordering The Books of the Bible that The Message kind of does this already. The Books of the Bible takes it further and is a translation, rather than a paraphrase.
Confession: I don’t enjoy reading the Bible. Caveat: I would like that to change. I realize a new format won’t necessarily make reading the Bible more enjoyable, but it may give it some newness. Part of my problem may be that the Bible has been with me since I was born. It needs some freshening up for me, in some respects. This type of format—combining some books, reordering the books, removing chapters and verses (the Psalms, naturally, retain their chapter numbers)—may just be that freshener.
That, or I’m just trying to justify the addition of yet another Bible to my already oversized Bible collection. How many translations and “presentations” does a person need anyway?
Incidentally, the TNIV (Today’s New International Version) has had some controversy surrounding its publication. For instance, some have questioned the extent to which the translators have taken the inclusive language issue. Several major evangelical leaders have denounced this translation (e.g. R.C. Sproul, J.I. Packer, James Dobson, John Piper, among others), as have the Presbyterian Church in America and the Southern Baptist Convention. Several other evangelical leaders have supported this new translation (Don Carson, Bill Hybels, John Stott, John Ortberg [whom I thought was Presbyterian] and Phil Yancey, among others). The Christian Reformed Church and my denomination—the Evangelical Covenant Church—have supported the translation. Take that for what you will. The world in and surrounding the Bible is indubitably conflicted.
I don’t quite understand what little I know of the controversy, as the translators of TNIV haven’t done anything with inclusive language that wasn’t already done in the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) and the NLT (New Living Translation). Some conservative Christians still don’t accept the NRSV (too “liberal”), but if I’m not mistaken, the NLT is almost universally accepted by evangelicals. Bizarre.