As I was reading the December issue of Christianity Today, I noticed a full-page ad for the TNIV Reference Bible. But the ad said that it would be available in the new year. I was delighted to see that they were doing more marketing for the TNIV for 2008. Anyway, I don’t think the TNIV will roll over and die prematurely. I believe Zondervan does smart business but they will hold onto the die-hard NIVers for a long long time. Elshaddai Edwards alluded to the idea that maybe IBS should include the apocrypha and market the TNIV to mainliners. Well, I think it can easily capture a big portion of the evangelical mainline market on its own, as is, without the help of the apocrypha. The translation philosophy of the T/NIV is still evangelical at heart. However, I don’t think the liberal mainliners will ever go for the TNIV. Personally, I believe the TNIV is still going to be a very strong evangelical translation because it is entrenched in evangelicalism and is like family to many evangelicals. However, the TNIV is going to have to slowly earn its place in the evangelical world of bible readers. When its gender-neutral language gains wider acceptance, and people will slowly forget about what its opponents said about it, then the people will eventually come around to accepting the TNIV. Even though the TNIV may be a more accurate translation than the NIV, the NIV will still be seen as the king of evangelical translations because it has something valuable—that is—trust. Many people still trust the NIV for accuracy and will not simply let it go. As a pietistic evangelical, I read the bible because I trust my translations for their accuracy. For a new translation to gain readership, it must first gain the people’s trust. Trust is extremely important in the world of evangelical bible-readers.
It does seem that Zondervan has taken a slow and patient approach to the marketing of the TNIV. I think it is a very wise business decision. Reality tells me that demand for the NIV will not decrease any time soon. Zondervan still has a lot of mileage in the NIV and will continue to promote the NIV. They just published the Archaeological Study Bible in 2006, the Celebrate Recovery Bible in 2007, plus numerous others. Take the NLT for instance. Sure the New Living Translation has gained a large readership but it was accomplished over a long period of time. Its readership was not gained over night. It has taken 11 years for the NLT to get where it is today. I remember when the NLT first came out in 1996. I went out to buy a copy of the NLT Life Application Bible in 1996 with my name embossed in gold. I brought it to a bible study to show it off to my friends. I remember someone poked fun at it because it didn’t seem like a serious enough translation for bible study. Well, I kind of took offense at this poke because I really liked the easy-to-understand language of the NLT. It was a breath of fresh air for me because I was a NKJV reader. Personally, I think the NLTse is probably the best reading translation available. I prefer it over the GNT, CEV and God’s Word.
If the NLT took this long to gain its readership, I think the TNIV will take just as long to gain its own readership. I believe the older generation of bible-readers will eventually come around to trying the TNIV, and maybe, they will even come to like it. It will have its contingent of strong supporters out there, especially from the younger generation. Eventually, one day, it will replace the NIV as the premier translation in the evangelical world.