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If you're a Bible reader who took issue with some of the Today's New International Version (TNIV) gender language, fret not. Those responsible for the controversial translation announced this week that the TNIV will be phased out and replaced by an updated New International Version (NIV)—marking the first time in 25 years the NIV has been revised.

Zondervan—which publishes both the NIV and TNIV—the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) and Biblica, holder of the NIV copyright, made the announcement regarding the world's best-selling translation, which was first published in 1978.

"We want to reach English speakers across the globe with a Bible that is accurate, accessible and that speaks to its readers in a language they can understand," said Keith Danby, global president and CEO of Biblica. He added that the original charter called for the NIV to be evergreen, with revisions and updates.

However, previous efforts to remake the NIV for contemporary audiences in different editions have been hindered by controversies regarding gender language, dividing theological conservatives. Zondervan released a New Testament of the TNIV in 2002 and the complete Bible in 2005, although critics decried it for changing gender-specific pronouns in some references.

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During this week's press conference, Zondervan CEO and President Moe Girkins said the TNIV had "divided the evangelical Christian community," and the Grand Rapids, Mich., publisher will phase out the translation in a period of 18 months to three years after the release of the revised NIV in 2011.

"I don't believe this is a commercial decision," Girkins said referring to the updated NIV. "I believe it's a right decision. ... The NIV is getting out of date. 2011 is a great celebration year for the Bible." The year 2011 marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Version.

Opponents of the TNIV were glad to hear that the translation will be phased out. "I'm delighted to see they have realized the TNIV was simply never going to be accepted by the Christian public who value accuracy in translating the Word of God," said Wayne Grudem, co-author of The TNIV and the Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy and research professor of Bible and theology at Phoenix Seminary in Scottsdale, Ariz. "I'm thankful for their honesty."

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler said the "unfreezing" of the NIV was announced "in a way that is respectful and honest. ... Those of us who have had significant concerns with TNIV should communicate these concerns respectfully, candidly and directly to the Committee on Bible Translation, Zondervan and Biblica. We must all pray that their work will produce an updated translation we can greet with appreciation and trust. We must take the Committee on Bible Translation at their word that they will consider these concerns." [christianretailing.com, 9/3/09]

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