A spokesman for Lifeway Christian Bookstores says the national chain has no plans to carry the recently released, complete Today's New International Version Bible. Published by Zondervan, the full TNIV Bible is billed as a "gender-accurate" translation; however, controversy has surrounded it since the release of the TNIV New Testament more than two years ago.


Rob Phillips, a spokesman for Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, says Lifeway has not yet reviewed the entire TNIV, which now adds the Old Testament to its previously released New Testament translation. Until the Bible has been examined in its entirety, he says, no final determination can be made about whether it will be carried in Lifeway bookstores.


"We certainly would need to review the full Bible," Phillips says, "but given our reservations about the New Testament, we would not plan to carry the TNIV. But again, that needs to be subject to review of the full Bible, to see whether there have been any corrections made in the New Testament."


The company representative says he doubts Lifeway will choose to stock the new translation for several reasons. "First of all, more than 100 conservative Bible scholars and other Christian leaders said that they could not recommend the TNIV," he notes. "And then, secondly, a resolution passed by messengers to the 2002 Southern Baptist Convention asked that our Lifeway Christian stores not carry the translation."


Zondervan officials say the TNIV is a timely resource, essential for its accuracy, clarity, and accessibility. However, many prominent evangelicals contend that many of the new Bible's texts have been mistranslated. Lifeway is reserving judgment for the moment, but Phillips says Lifeway, as an entity of the SBC, is naturally inclined to honor the denomination's request.


A Bible Born Amid Controversy


In an online statement introducing the TNIV, Zondervan and the International Bible Society (IBS) introduce their new Bible, saying it is presented with "the utmost respect for God's Holy Word and the conviction that we are called to spread that Word." Perhaps the most significant reason the translators and publisher cite for producing the new Bible is to reach today's generation of 18- to 34-year-olds -- a generation that is leaving the Church in record numbers. According to Barna Research, four out of 10 people abandon the Church after high school, and another eight million 20-somethings will likely leave it by the time they turn 30.


Zondervan, America's largest Bible publisher, had hoped to make a pitch for the attention of that spiritually at-risk age group in Rolling Stone magazine, which is popular with many in that demographic. The Christian company paid the secular publication for the ad space last July, but was surprised when Rolling Stone rejected its ad for the new youth-oriented scripture translation.

According to Associated Press reports, the music and pop culture periodical commented that it was not "in the business" of publishing religious ads. But although Rolling Stone will not be carrying ads for the new Bible, MTV.com will.