Some have heard about the “new” NIV Bible that is coming out in March. The new version is already available online. I have been thinking, studying, reading and doing a lot of praying over the last 6 or 7 weeks about this “new” Bible. I’ve been using the NIV since 1989 when Pastor Rick Speas became our pastor and introduced it the church. Our church has used it since. The NIV is a phrase by phrase translation, whereas the English Standard Version (ESV) is a word by word translation. When you have a word by word translation the reading is a little more “clunky” or not as smooth than when you are reading a “phrase by phrase” translation.
Here’s the upshot of this post: I don’t like the new NIV. I simply don’t. Why? There are many reasons, but mainly because of the words that are being “replaced” or added to make the new version more “culturally acceptable” in my opinion.
The NIV Bible you have on your nightstand or desk is a 1984 revision of the original (from ’73). Over time language changes and develops and new translations are needed and that’s totally understandable. Certainly one can see this if you have ever tried to read “English” from the 17th century. It’s almost impossible to do so without going “batty!” A few years back (2005), the TNIV (Today’s NIV) was introduced, not as a replacement but an alternative to the popular NIV. It used gender inclusive language. Last year it was announced that the TNIV would be discontinued and the NIV would be completely revised. But like the 1984 revision, the 2011 NIV is intended as a replacement. In other words, in a few months you will only be able to buy NIV Bibles (1984 version) like the one you and I have now at second hand bookstores and clearance shelves. In a few years our NIV (1984) Bible will be a relic.
This new NIV Bible will force a decision, because it’s going to use gender inclusive language. John Dyer has done some work that I believe is noteworthy on the new NIV. The following is a sample of comparison texts from John 1:
These changes are going to force us all to make a choice: is a gender-neutral Bible the most faithful bridge between the original and the current culture/language? It seems clear that this new NIV will force a polarity of sorts. I predict that more people will go to the ESV, with its relative readability and gender specific language, or the NLT, with its amazing readability and gender specific language. It seems bound to happen. Trevin Wax agrees:
The problem I see with the NIV 2011 is that the publisher (Zondervan) seems to be putting churches and church leaders in a position where they are forced to make a choice. A few years ago, upon considering the resistance from some evangelicals toward the TNIV, Zondervan assured Bible-readers that the 1984 NIV would remain available. But no such assurance is given now. In fact, the publisher has expressly indicated the desire for the NIV 2011 to replace both the original NIV and the TNIV.
Again, the new NIV is now on-line at BibleGateway. If you choose the NIV in your search, the 2011 version is what you are searching in. If you go to the menu you’ll see that 1984 NIV is also still an option. As I have studied, there are several articles I have read. The Associated Baptist Press has an article on the subject that can be read here…
Marvin Olasky reports in World Magazine that the most removed words are:
“He,” “his,” or “him” 2,700 times, “man” or “men” 1,600 times, and “fathers,” “forefathers,” or “brothers” 500 times.
You can read the full article here…
Baptist Press reports in an article entitled: “Major Group says it cannot endorse NIV 2011 Bible” the following:
Posted on Nov 22, 2010 | by Michael Foust
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–A major evangelical organization which supports a complementarian position on manhood and womanhood says the newest translation of the NIV Bible is a significant improvement over its predecessor, the TNIV, although the group says it still cannot endorse it because it contains many of the same problems.
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) released a statement Nov. 19 stating that the NIV 2011 has many of the same flaws that prevented the TNIV from gaining in popularity among the evangelical community. CBMW, though, did applaud the translators for the “openness and honesty” of the translation process.
The older translation of the NIV — now called the NIV 1984 version — is being phased out and eventually won’t be published, its publisher, Zondervan, has said. The NIV 2011 will be in print next year and currently is available only online. (BibleGateway.com hosts it and many other translations.)
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is an organization that believes men and women are equal but have different and complementary roles in the home and in the church. The CBMW withheld an endorsement of the TNIV in 2002 due to gender-neutral language, some of which the group said changed the theological direction and meaning of the text. The NIV 2011, as it is being called, maintains some of the TNIV language and some of the NIV 1984 language, and in some passages splits the difference.
“[T]hough we are genuinely thankful for the many positive changes in the new NIV (2011), and though we are deeply appreciative of the very different process by which our friends at the CBT [Committee on Bible Translation] and Zondervan pursued and unveiled this new version, we still cannot commend the new NIV (2011) for most of the same reasons we could not commend the TNIV,” the statement read. “Our initial analysis shows that the new NIV (2011) retains many of the problems that were present in the TNIV, on which it is based, especially with regard to the over 3,600 gender-related problems we previously identified. In spite of the many good changes made, our initial analysis reveals that a large percentage of our initial concerns still remain.”
John Dyer has done a fairly in depth study on the new NIV. You can take a look at his analysis here…
I thought this information was worth posting…
UPDATE: Here are some Wordle.net images showing what’s changed. The bigger the word, the more times it was added or removed.
Words removed from NIV1984
Although there are a lot of important small changes (“desert” to “wilderness”), these images shows that the vast majority of changes are “him,” “he,” and “his” being replaced with “they,” “their,” and “people.” The word “the” shows up so often because of changes such as “the man who” becoming “anyone who.”
NIV1984, tNIV, and NIV2011 Relationships
This is based on the percentage of verses that are exact matches between versions. The percentage of word matches is closer to 91% between all three versions.
What is the purpose of a translation? In my opinion, it is to as correctly and closely as possible match the original languages (Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic). Dr. David Black, professor of New Testament and Greek at SEBTS says:
“Your Bible is the Word of God to the degree that it faithfully represents the original Greek and Hebrew.”
I agree Brother Dave! When a group decides to move from “translator” to “interpreter” based on the “culture of the day,” we begin sliding down a slippery slope. I believe the new NIV is potentially doing so. Principally because of their desire to be “politically correct” and “egalitarian.” A case in point is their translation of 1 Timothy 2:12. In the new NIV (2011) it reads: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” In contrast, the NIV (1984) reads, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” To “have authority” and to “assume authority” carry very different meanings in my opinion. The former presumes the possession or the “exercising of authority,” whereas the latter could be interpreted to mean that Paul merely “opposes” women taking on positions of authority by their own power or means. So you could argue from the NIV 2011 translation that women could teach or have authority over men as long as the authority was “given to them,” and not merely assumed by the woman herself. However, I believe this translation is contrary to what Paul is teaching, which is most naturally translated “have authority” or “exercise authority.” Am I “splitting hairs” here? Maybe. But, I’m concerned. I am honestly concerned.
So, it seems I have a decision to make as an Elder. What version will “I” personally read going forward and what version will I show on our screens at church? Honestly at this point I’m still wrestling with these decisions, but I am leaning to the ESV (English Standard Version). So, if you are a member of MPBC just know that over time, I will probably begin showing the ESV on the screens. This is a personal decision and what I show on the screens is simply my own “personal” choice of translation/version to use to teach/preach from in my teaching/preaching. Certainly you, or anyone else for that matter, can choose what you like. However, as a shepherd, I felt compelled to share this information with you, so that you could make an informed decision.