Magazine article The Christian Century

New Bible Woos Young Adults, Skirts Critics

Magazine article The Christian Century

New Bible Woos Young Adults, Skirts Critics

Article excerpt

WHEN ZONDERVAN published in 2002 an inclusive-language version of the New Testament by the translators of the older, best-selling New International Version (NIV) Bible, vociferous criticism poured in from conservative Protestants.

Some Bibles from competing evangelical publishers also were reducing generic male references at that time. But conservative critics such as Focus on the Family's James Dobson, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Presbyterian Church in America claimed that Zondervan's TNIV, or Today's New International Version, went too far and was an attempt to be politically correct.

However, upon the publishing last month of the full TNIV, complete with the Old Testament, the dissent from the Religious Right was barely audible, at least in the early weeks.

Some Christian conservatives say the $1 million marketing campaign by Zondervan, part of the HarperCollins publishing company, is bypassing conservative "gatekeepers" and appealing directly to readers between 18 and 34 years old, according to the World magazine Web site. Zondervan trumpeted the TNIV in February as "the most accurate and readable Bible translation for today's generation."

As it happened, the publisher reaped unexpected publicity in January when Rolling Stone rejected an ad with a "spiritual message" for the TNIV, saying it was inconsistent with the magazine's policies. The magazine then relented as various media panned the decision.

The controversy helped to create such a demand for the TNIV that Zondervan Vice President Paul Caminiti said the distribution date was moved ahead two weeks to early February.

Nine niche-editions of the TNIV were published, including The Story, described by Zondervan as "a chronological condensation of scripture formatted like a novel." A low-cost TNIV evangelism edition--Beginning the Journey, published in cooperation with the Willow Creek Association--contains only Genesis, Deuteronomy, John, Acts and Romans.

The TNIV text, copyrighted by the Colorado Springs-based International Bible Society, was produced by an independent committee of evangelical scholars whose members are associated with institutions such as Wheaton Graduate School, Calvin Theological Seminary and Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. …

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