Bibles: The Heritage of NIV for 2011

The New International Version (NIV) first came out in 1973 (NT) with great fanfare. It was the first major English translation to abandon the King James Version and its successors as a baseline for English Bible translation. The full NIV Bible was published in 1978 and underwent a minor revision in 1984. NIV1984 is currently the most widely used English translation of the Bible; in August, 2010, The Committee on Bible Translation said that more than 400 million copies of the NIV had been printed.

The successor to the NIV1984 was meant to be the Today’s New International Version (TNIV) published in 2002 (NT) and 2005 (whole Bible). However, opponents attacked its gender-inclusive language and the publisher proved reluctant to quit promoting the profit-producing NIV1984 instead. As of now, TNIV is effectively dead, though it is reasonable to argue that it has risen again as NIV2011.

Now the new kid on the block is NIV2011, scheduled for print publication in March 2011. Electronic versions are already available. NIV2011 is a definite improvement over NIV1984. I’ll be saying a lot more about this new translation, but for now you may want to see the statistics presented in graphical and tabular form by John Dyer, who works at Dallas Theological Seminary. Here is the link: Dyer’s Data & Chart.

The message I get from examining Dyer’s data is that NIV2011 substantially approves of the changes included in TNIV and takes them a step further. One change from NIV1984 to NIV2011 is the cautious shift to gender-neutral language; for example, “brothers” becomes “brothers and sisters” and “men” becomes “mankind.” However, nothing of this nature was done in relation to references to God.

An excellent statement about NIV2011 has been prepared by The Committee on Bible Translation. It is available here. I will discuss this statement in more detail another day.

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide.

Do you have an opinion or a different interpretation? Let me know!

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