Tuesday, March 15, 2011


     Zondervan Bible Publishers of Grand Rapids, Michigan, in conjunction with
Biblica US, Inc., Colorado Springs, Co. has released an update of the New
International Version, Copyright 1973,1978, 1984, 2011. Their intent is to bring
the NIV in line with current scholarship, and to update the text so that gender
accuracy is reflected  in both the Old and New Testaments. The new revision is
generally referred to as the NIV-2011. Most people who purchase it will think
of it as a revised NIV.

     Today's New International Version (TNIV), Copyright 2001,2005, was a
"failed" attempt to accomplish the same goal. It was rejected by many who style
themselves as evangelicals. Some evangelicals judged the TNIV as being loose
primarily because it made an an attempt to be "gender accurate." There are many
places in the Old and New Testaments where the biblical writers include both
males and females, but such is often obscured when gender specific words such
as "he," "man," "men," and  "brother/brothers" are used in English translation.
When both males and females are included in the words used by the writers of
scripture, the meaning is "person," "people," "human being," "mankind," and
"brothers and sisters." Inasmuch as the TNIV didn't read like their NIV, many
people rejected it even though it has many virtues that commend it as a good
reading Bible and it is good for comparison with other translations. 

     The NIV-2011 is an improvement over both the NIV and TNIV. It has
the strengths of both the NIV and TNIV, and it corrects many of the exegetical
weaknesses of both. It is not perfect but it is imminently useful! It is not among
the modified-literal texts such as the ASV, RSV, NASB, NRSV, and ESV.
The NIV-2011, like the NIV and TNIV stands among the idiomatic translations
that strive to translate using terminology that is current. Their translators looked
in the ancient Hebrew and Greek texts and said, "We know what the Hebrew
and Greek say; how do we say the same thing in English?" They are meaning
based versions. Many people criticize meaning based translations, but the fact
is, every single English version is meaning based to a large extent! Every
informed translator determines the meaning of the words or phrases he is
translating, then he transfers the meaning by selecting the word or phrase in
the receptor language that means the same as the original word or phrase.

     We will now mention a few notable instances in which the NIV-2011 excels
over the "original" NIV. In Acts 2:27, the NIV reads, "...you will not abandon
me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay." The revision says,
"...you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy
one see decay."  In John 1:18, the NIV says the Son is "at the Father's side."
The revision says the Son "is in closest relationship with the Father." This
beautifully and accurately conveys the meaning of the idiom "in the bosom of" in
the Greek text. The NIV received a lot of criticism for translating the Greek
word sarx as "sinful nature" in the letters of Paul. Most of the places have been
"corrected" and the revision generally reads "flesh." When Paul used sarx he
was not literally referring to the material composition of the body, but to a sinful
state or condition. (cf. Rom. 8:3; Eph. 2:3, etc.) In 1 Cor. 7:1 the NIV says, "It
is good for a man not to marry." The revision says "It is good for a man not to 
have sexual relations with a woman." The revision has corrected the alleged
contradiction that many have seen between Mat. 5:17 and Eph. 2:15 in the NIV.
The NIV uses "abolish" in both texts. The revision keeps "abolish" in Mat. 5:17,
but says, "setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands" in Eph. 2:15.

     The NIV 2011 is not perfect, but it is a very useful version. It, like all other
versions should be used with discretion, and may we never forget that accuracy
is not determined by comparing one translation to another translation, but the
standard by which accuracy is measured is the original text.

Copyright 2011