Extreme TNIV texts

Posted: 15th August 2007 by ElShaddai Edwards in Uncategorized

A recent resurgence in commentary about the Books of the Bible release of the TNIV has floated some additional visitors to a post I had made back in June about that edition’s intriguing case for removing all of the critical apparatus from Biblical text and forcing us to focus on the words of the Word.

This comes on the heels of my minor rant on the layout of the forthcoming TNIV Reference Bible, which crams 100,000+ cross-references as well as translation notes and topical links into every available nook and cranny on the page. In light of these two extremes, I thought it would be interesting to compare these presentations of the Bible side by side with a “normal” text:

tbotb_genesis_sample-7.gif tnivrefgen1_page_03.gif 934931_1_exc_dp.jpg

The Books of the Bible layout is on the left, the Reference Bible is in the middle, the classic TNIV text (taken from the XL edition) is on the right. From what I’ve been able to tell, they are approximately the same physical size, 6″x9″.

Obviously the first two examples are extremes, but which approach do you naturally gravitate toward? Iyov has already commented along these lines that:

“I must admit, I fail to see the point of excitement [of the Books of the Bible]. I myself have little difficulty in reading or ignoring footnotes, verse numbers, chapter numbers — so much so that I fail to see the value of the Bible without this apparatus. […] I’m most amazed that people have difficulty in simply tuning out the annotations when they read. […] If we are able to reach a state of divine union with God through prayer in [noisy worship environments], is it really so difficult to read the Bible without spending time on notes?”

How say you?

  1. Personally, I tend towards a good reference Bible. Generally the references are not so distracting as the notes in a study Bible can be, and I like having them available if I want to check on something.

    I do like the normal text Bible, with chapters and verses, mainly because they make it so much easier to navigate through the Bible when discussing with other people. But I would miss the references.

    I think the “Books of the Bible” format is a great idea for personal devotional time. It seems to free one’s mind to relax and see the scriptures as they were originally intended to be read. But I’m not so sure it would be a good Bible to use in study, especially when studying with other people. It could be used as a supplement in personal study easily enough.

    My vote then, is for the full reference Bible.

  2. voxstefani says:

    I just posted a bit about both the TNIV Reference Bible and The Books of the Bible in my own blog earlier today. I am not in the least bothered by footnotes of verse numbers, nor indeed by two-column formats, but I must admit to a certain preference to single-column, minimalist page layouts. (This is, I suppose, why I’ve been known to use my Foundation NASB Reference Edition insistently, in spite of cringe-worthy renderings like “how much severer punishment,” etc., at Heb. 10:29.) Anyway, I think I will end up buying both the Reference Bible and TBOTB: the former because I lack an adequate edition of the full TNIV, and the latter because I find it appealing for reading extended passages and whole books in one sitting.


  3. Gary, thanks for stopping by again. I agree that a good reference Bible is hard to beat, though I still think the TNIV layout is a little over the top. I completely agree that the TBOTB edition would be perfect for devotional reading – I would have thought that a journal-style layout like the new ESV Journaling Bible would be even better.

    Esteban, I’ve enjoyed browsing your blog. Count me as a fan of the Foundation NASB Reference Bible as well – until something better comes along, it remains on my desktop. It sounds like we are of a similar mind on such things.

  4. Jay says:

    “which approach do you naturally gravitate toward?”


  5. voxstefani says:

    I’m glad you did! I’ve enjoyed browsing your blog as well, and have gathered that we do indeed have similar opinions on matters related to Bible translation and publishing.

    As for the Foundation edition, that’s my take as well. (Even if mine is in the old NASB, and was printed the year before I was born.) But let me tell you–the TNIV Reference Bible looks pretty close to a suitable replacement! Even with the small and crowded print. But for me, it will have to wait until it’s available in hardcover: Zondervan’s bonded leather is the bane of my soul. Well, that, and red-lettering. 🙂

  6. But for me, it will have to wait until it’s available in hardcover: Zondervan’s bonded leather is the bane of my soul.

    It will be interesting to see the binding quality. Zondervan has promised a sewn-binding on the Reference Bible, which hopefully should be more durable than most glued. I agree that a sewn-bound hardback is desirable – my recent purchase of the NRSV Cross-Reference from Oxford is a testament to that.

  7. Esteban,
    I hear you about Zondervan’s bonded leather. I have a NIV that seems more like cardboard than leather. But the bonded leather of my new TNIV XL at least seems to be more durable and comfortable than other Zondervans I’ve used.

    I hate red letter too, but what are we gonna do about it? 😉

  8. David Gregg says:

    I have to say that I absolutely love “The Books of the Bible” edition! I figure, if I want study tools I’ve got a good Bible program for that. Apart from my natural predisposition toward TBOTB and the usual reasons why people like this edition, I’m thinking long-term. Rather than the just-short-of-random book order in the traditional format, The Books of the Bible provides a logical book order. This makes it easy to memorize. Just memorizing this order provides people with some very useful background information about the books they are reading: genre, author, chronological order, subject matter, recipient, etc. The supplemental reading for the book introductions are my favorite that I’ve found in a printed Bible. This Bible is, potentially, a great Bible study tool, especially for people who want to actively pursue a passion for reading the Word (which is also why I love “The Story” edition). I love teaching how to read, study, and understand the Bible, and this is one of the resources I use and strongly suggest to others. I’d love to have a leatherbound edition of The Books of the Bible.

  9. Nathan Stitt says:

    I would settle for a hardback with opaque paper David, but I completely agree that TBOTB is refreshing.