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Why I Use the TNIV

November 30, 2006 10 comments

For a long time I’ve been a bible translation junkie.  For some reason I became interested in how the bible was translated and how different people translated it a long time ago.  Since I was born in 1980 and therefore a teenager in the 90’s my first bible was the famous NIV Student Bible.  I used this until my senior year when I began using the ESV.  I used the ESV for most my time in seminary, but recently have made a switch to the TNIV (Today New International Version).  The TNIV has been much-maligned and while the heavy criticism seems to have passed, there are still sites on the web devoted to objecting to the TNIV http://www.no-tniv.com being one of those sites.

I remember when I was in college I first heard about the TNIV in the student newspaper @ Grove City.  The article cited Dr. T. David Gordon as objecting to the TNIV because of it’s use of “gender neutral language”.  As someone who grew up using the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) in church I was used to gender neutral translations but didn’t know it.  So, I checked it out using James 3:1

NIV: Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

ESV: Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

TNIV: Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

As I would discover in seminary, the key objection to the TNIV is how it translates adelphoi, the masculine plural of adelphos (brother).  Now, there is no debate that sometimes in the New Testament adelphoi clearly means a group of people including both males and females.  The issue is when did the author intend this.  I remember in his article Dr. Gordon making the point that the TNIV had translated the debate away.  Now, as someone who holds different views on the role of men and women in the church I don’t have this same objection.  But, here’s a better example of why I think the gender neutral update is a good thing.

TNIV: When an evil spirit comes out of anyone, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’

NIV: When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.

ESV: When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’

Now, here’s a case where even the ESV has rejected the more traditional langauge in favor of the gender neutral “anyone” or “a person”.

Finally, and here’s the real reason I use the TNIV – it’s just plain more readable.  I work with Jr. and Sr. High age kids and they’re not stupid by any means – but I need to be using a translation that uses langauge they can understand.  So here’s my last example:

ESV: But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!

NIV: When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!

TNIV: When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!

For my use, the TNIV and NIV are simply more readable than more literal translations like the ESV.  And here is a classic case – “When he came to his senses” – what great use of English idiom in translation.  No one would dispute that the TNIV/NIV is easier to read something like the ESV (although many would contend that they’re not as accurate) and updated langauge in the TNIV makes it my recommendation to anyone looking to buy a bible for a teen (or anyone else for that matter).  It’s now the main translation that I use in ministry as well as for my own personal use.  Now, it’s not the only translation – I still keep my others close at hand, and since I know Greek and Hebrew it makes it even easier to use multiple translations.  But, when it comes to preaching, teaching, and recommending – the TNIV all the way for me.

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Categories: TNIV

The Bible

November 30, 2006 Leave a comment

A number of weeks ago I posted my list of “Top 20 books” and at the beginning I said I was going to leave the bible off the list because it was in a totally different category. One commentor asked what category I would put the bible in. So, here’s my attempt to answer that question:

The books on the list are all very good books – or I would not have included them. However, none of those books are “my book”. The bible is “my book” as it has become part of my story, or more aptly I’ve become a part of it’s story. I’ve had a long relationship with the bible, better at some points, not so good at others. There was the time when it was just intimidating, then the time when it began to open new worlds, then the time when it became a book of theological data, to becoming a living testimony to God’s work in the world. Lately, it’s become the later and now a story book. The bible is the story book of the Christian family – it’s not something you read once and then put away, it’s something you pull out and read often, because it tells the story of those who went before you. Like the old family stories you read them and tell them over and over again because reading them helps you understand who you are.  What makes the bible more than just a story book is that our ancestors in the faith have taught us that God still speaks through these old old stories. For me the bible is something to be wrestled with, to be challenged by, and to see into new worlds with. John Calvin described the bible as the spectacles through which we see God, and I love that description. I do not “believe in the bible” nor am I a “bible believing Christian.” I put my faith in the one to whom the bible points – Jesus of Nazareth and his Father in Heaven and his Spirit poured out in the world.   The bible helps me understand where as a follower of Jesus I’ve come from and where, as a follower of Jesus, I’ll be going in the future.  The bible excites me, angers me, challenges me, and intruiges me all at the same time.

Even the genuius of Karl Barth cannot compare…

Categories: Bible, John Calvin, Karl Barth

Why I Went Shopping on Black Friday

November 28, 2006 Leave a comment

Black Friday has come to symbolize the epitomy of American Consumerism. Crazed shoppers head out at 5 or 6 am the morning after eating too much to buy things they don’t need and end up standing in long lines and getting into knock down brawls to get gifts – stealing from one another’s carts and everything.  Yes, it sounds like the epitomy of evil to me.  Therefore, it’s not unusual to hear Christian Social Action groups advocating that Christians refrain from shopping on Black Friday.
So why did I venture out?  Frankly, my pocket book compelled me.  We have been in need of a bigger hard drive for my work computer for quite some time as doing video editing quickly consumes disk space.  I had been using my own personal drive for a while but didn’t want to continue to do that.  So, Staples had a external hard drive advertised for $99 that was 400 GB.  In case you don’t know, this is an incredible deal – normally, these cost in the range of $200-$250.  If I was able to get something that the church has a need for and save the church money, I do not understand why I fell into some “consumeristic trap”.

If you’re wondering – did I buy other things?  Of course.  My dad needed a new printer (his died) but we saved about $80 there.  The internal hard drive on Renee and I’s desktop had been threatening to die for about three months, so I bought a replacement for when it does (saved another $80 there).  Finally, we bought a new desk chair for our desk (which we had needed) and saved maybe 10 or 20 there.

As far as I can see if I am buying things that are (1) Needed (2) At a good price I do not see why I am being anything other than a good steward.

And, for the record, Staples was very peaceful and orderly.  No pushing, no fights, no stealing.  There was a line for certain items but all in all, it was a fine shopping experience.

Categories: Black Friday, Main

Thanksgiving, Youth Specialties, etc.

November 28, 2006 1 comment

This past week was Thanksgiving here in the United States, so that afford Renee and I a little while to get to my hometown of Spencerport to see my family . I realized that I hadn’t actually been home to see my parents since May (for Renee’s bridal shower) and admittedly felt a little bad about that. Although, in my defense I had a whirlwind of activity between May and now.

I am starting to feel like life has settled into a pattern of sorts. Minus Renee switching jobs this week I feel like we’ve hit somewhat of steady pace and I am starting to feel settled into somewhat of a routine

This week I am off to Charlotte for the National Youth Workers Convention. This is my second year going, as I went last year when it was here in Pittsburgh. Last year I went somewhat unsure where my calling was – and out of NYWC came a clear understanding that my calling was in fact to youth ministry. Now that I’ve gotten that far, I’m not sure what I’m looking for or what I’ll hear when I’m there. Either way, I am looking forward to it.

After I return from that our senior high group is off to Camp Crestfield for a retreat with just our group which should be a lot of fun. We’ll be watching and discussing “The God Who Wasn’t There” and talking about other questions of faith – should be a good time.

This past Sunday I preached my second sermon ever on “Evil”. I preached my first sermon on evil while in seminary at the PTS Chapel. It was entitled “Welcome to the Seminary: The Devil’s Playground”. Sunday it was on demons and the “ordinary” demons that haunt our lives and keep us from following Christ into the world. I preached the same message at all three services, but the 11:00 edition was far and away the best (in my and other’s opinion). I’ll link to it once I get the recording online. I’ve learned that preaching on evil is never easy and never fun, but always worthwhile as people need to know that the evil they face is real – and how it can be dealt with.

I’m headed back to school – kinda – this term.  I’ve decided to audit History of Christian Social Thought @ PTS this term.  Should be interesting… plus, with an audit there’s no papers and no grades.

Categories: Crestfield, NYWC

Borderline Insane…

November 12, 2006 Leave a comment

It has been a long time since I’ve run Cross Country competitively (seven years to be exact) but I still enjoy running and have tried to make it part of my general routine (with less success that I would have liked) ever since.

Lately I’ve been slowly getting back into the running habit, and had it on my to-do list for today.  Except that the weather was awful and my eating schedule was off so by the time I felt ready to run it was after 5 o’clock and dark outside and raining hard… but some reason that little piece of insanity that gets embedded into anyone who runs cross country sticks with me when it comes to weather as I happily threw on a light fleece and headed out in the dreadful weather.

However, my wife is more insane than I am 

Categories: Cross Country, Running

PTS Board Meeting

November 9, 2006 Leave a comment

Today was the final day of festivities for the Board of Directors @ Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and my first meeting with the board.

While much of the board’s work is approving the recommendations of the administrators, these two days gave me a chance to see the work of the board first hand and to see PTS from a whole different side.  I have to say that while I was excited about the future of my alma mater prior to the board meeting  my excitement grew steadily throughout the meeting, and much of it has to do with the leadership of our new president Bill Carl.

Last year when Bill began his term I was skeptical (to be honest) because I couldn’t really get a sense of where Bill was leading the seminary and what his agenda was.  It seemed to me that at first he was trying to make friends with everyone (which I couldn’t blame him, that’s what you need to do).  On Tuesday night Bill presented his vision and I have to say I was impressed.  Like most vision-related stuff I would nuance some words here and there, but Bill seems content to lead Pittsburgh Seminary in a natural and Spirit-led direction toward a model of seminary education that is “missional” in nature.  One might say that Bill is looking to guide Pittsburgh toward being a “missional seminary”.

There are of course challenges and issues ahead, but I think good things are going to happen at PTS.

My First Vacation Day!

November 7, 2006 Leave a comment

Today is my first official day of vacation since I started @ HPC on July 1st. How am I spending such a day? At the board of directors meeting of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for my first of six board meetings across my three year term.

Categories: Pittsburgh Seminary