Reaction to the Revised New International Version Bible

David Cameron

It has been many years since the release of the latest revision of the New International Version Bible and I thought that it would be a good time to look into how this updated text has been received.

The History of the NIV Bible

For those who are not familiar with the NIV Bible, this text was first conceived of in the late 1960's and has been in print since 1978. A result of efforts by hundreds of Bible scholars from around the world, the creators of this version of the Bible took careful aim at crafting a Bible that was true to the original language yet far easier for lay persons to understand than previous translations have been. Since the beginning, the NIV Bible has had a built-in mechanism to ensure that it keeps pace with evolving language so that the NIV version always remains current to the contemporary reader. To this end, since 1978, the Committee of Bible Translation meets once each year to review advances in linguistics in order to ensure that the NIV is always fresh and current. They carefully maintain a balance of two core philosophies of the NIV - transparency to the original text and modern "readability". Hear more about how the NIV is maintained from Douglas Moo of the Committee on Bible Translation.

So What Has Changed?

As the New International Version 2011 Bible is a complete revision of the previous NIV 1984, there are quite a number of note worthy changes. The most controversial change is the frequent substitution of masculine gender references with more neutral ones. For example, words like He, Him and His are replaced with words like their, they and them. For the most part, the changes seem small on the surface but Bible Scholars are quick to point out the subtleties of the new language. The Committee on Bible Translation has defended their decisions as accurate and up to date.

It is not uncommon for new and more modern Bible versions to meet with criticism but this recent version has been openly denounced by several prominent groups such as the Baptist Southern Convention, Lifeway and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. They are deeply concerned with the changes in gender related text. These groups are instructing their members to reject the new version and press Biblica, the publisher responsible for the new version, to continue printing the 1984 version that has been taken out of print in favor of the NIV 2011.

Detractors aside, there are many who are very pleased with the new NIV version as a wonderful translation and an excellent tool for reaching new readers. With over 400 million NIV Bibles sold, there is no worry that the NIV 2011, or the arguments for and against it, are going away anytime soon.

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