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TNIV, Zondervan’s Red-Headed Stepchild

As has been noted by many blogs, the TNIV has once again fallen off of the top ten list in Bible sales in units and dollars, according to the CBA. When we see what Crossway has done with flooding the Bible market with tons of different ESV styles, sizes, and formats, one has to wonder about Zondervan and its treatment of the TNIV. We know that Zondervan can market a translation. The NIV was the first translation to finally remove the KJV from the #1 spot. You can buy a NIV of any style, size, and layout. If you want it, there is a NIV to meet that desire. But when it comes to the TNIV, it is quite the opposite. There are a few TNIV pew Bibles, one study Bible, and one reference Bible (one in expensive leather and one in cardboard, I mean, the worst bonded leather I have ever handled). The options are sparse, especially for a translation that was released in 2005. Another useful comparison is to Tyndale which released the updated NLT in 2004, only one year before the TNIV. The options and editions for the NLT, however, are vast.

As long as the TNIV choices remain what they are, the TNIV will die a slow death like the NRSV has. There will be some supporters and a few diehards, but it is hard to find a NRSV that fits exactly what one is looking for and that translation released in 1990. I believe this is one major reason why there has been little traction with the NRSV and not so much about the “gender neutral” aspect. If I cannot find an edition I like, I will not use the translation much. A case in point is the ESV Single Column Reference Bible. It is not that I think the ESV is superior to all other translations. I find it frustrating in a number of places. But I love the Single Column Reference Edition so much that I want to use it. If I had that edition in nearly any other translation, I would use it frequently. I think many people are this way, influenced more by the edition than by the translation.

It is up to Zondervan. The TNIV is better than the NIV. But will Zondervan give the TNIV a fighting chance? It does not appear so. Zondervan ought to be embarrassed that The Message sells more in copies and dollars than the TNIV. New NIV editions continue to hit the market while the TNIV sits idle. It won’t be long before the TNIV is sitting on the one shelf with all the other odd or obscure modern translations.