The NIV Revision

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor
of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

On September 1, 2009, Zondervan, Biblica (formerly known as the International Bible Society) and the Committee on Bible Translation announced a revision of the New International Version of the Bible. The new revised NIV will be available in 2011. According to the joint announcement, the new revision will mark the first complete update of the NIV since 1984.

At the same time, Zondervan announced that with the publication of the revised NIV in 2011, they will cease selling the TNIV. The TNIV is a controversial translation of the Bible released in 2001 which was met with wide rejection among evangelicals because of its gender-neutral language.

I have written several posts in which I discussed some of the weaknesses of the NIV. I even wrote a post in which I compared the NIV and the TNIV (check the links below). To me, the biggest problem with the TNIV was the many changes this translation made in the Hebrew text in order to employ a gender inclusive language to address the cultural constraints of our American society and its reluctance to use words such as “father,” “son,” “brother,” and the masculine pronouns “he,” “him,” or “his.”

I am quite aware that in the twenty-first century our society expects people to use inclusive language in order to include both men and women in whatever is being said or written. However, when a Hebrew verb is changed from the singular to the plural, such a change creates inaccuracies in interpretation of the text and it provides a false understanding of what the text is trying to communicate to the reader.

I can assure you that the Committee on Bible Translation will have a difficult time in accommodating the many different views and desires of the evangelical world. If the translators of the revised NIV follow the same principles adopted by the translators of the TNIV, the revised NIV will suffer the same fate as the TNIV and it will open the doors for the ESV to become the Bible of the evangelical world.

Posts dealing with the NIV:

The Inconsistencies of the NIV – Part 1

The Inconsistencies of the NIV – Part 2

Amos, Justice, and the NIV

The NIV and the TNIV: Two Bibles with Contradictory Views

Hosea 6:6 and the NIV

Rereading Micah 6:4: Miriam, A Leader in Israel

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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6 Responses to The NIV Revision

  1. Nate says:

    >I haven't used the NIV very extensively, but I'm not a huge fan of it when I have. Personally, I prefer the NKJV for religious use and reading. I like ESV the little I've used it online.For study, I plan to eventually purchase the NRSV. Several books I've read use the NRSV in its study of the biblical text and I was pretty pleased with its sound and apparent accuracy. I also have a copy of the JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh, which I like because it gives me a different theological perspective in its translation, which will avoid potential corruption by Christian traditions that influence some translation (i.e., the Septuagint, New Testament quotes or the Vulgate). Though conversely I also acknowledge it might have its own Jewish biases—that's why I like to compare them.


  2. >Nate,I use the NIV because this is the version used in my church. For teaching, I have been using the NRSV but this Fall, I will be using the ESV as an experiment. I have used the Tanak to read the Jewish perspective of the text.Thank you for your comment.Claude Mariottini


  3. Gary says:

    >Dr. Mariottoni,Which translation do you think is the most word for word accurate, but still easy enough for a non bible scholar to understand?


  4. >Gary,Thank you for your question, but there is no easy answer to your question.Every translation has its strengths and its weaknesses. I liked the RSV but it has been replaced by the NRSV. The NRSV is a good translation but it uses inclusive language and in places it changes a singular to a plural thus, it may not give an accurate translation of a text.No translation can be a word for word translation because the Hebrew, the Aramaic, and the Greek of the Bible do not allow for this kind of translation.For reading and studying the Bible, almost any translation is good because a translation will still teach God's word.For us who teach, we want to know and teach the real meaning behind the original text; this is the reason at times I criticize the NIV. My church uses the NIV, so I preach and teach Bible studies using the NIV.This Fall I will be using the ESV in my classes. This will allow me to check this new version. The ESV is gaining popularity because is reflects the accuracy of the RSV.Thank you for visiting my blog.Claude Mariottini


  5. Nathan says:

    >The NIV is nice and I use it in church since it's the most common. I personally prefer translations that 1) capitalize pronouns referring to Deity (for clarity and reverence), 2) include "disputed" texts from the canon within the text rather than in footnotes (e.g. the end of the Lord's Prayer), and 3) are accurate yet readable. Given those criteria, I prefer the HCSB and the NASB. But I also love the NLT for its readability.


  6. >Nathan,When it comes to translations and which one to use, the problem is not easily solved.I use the NIV in church because it is the Bible our church chose to use. I love the Good News Bible because it is easy for lay people to read it and understand it.In my teaching I have been using the NRSV but this academic year I will be using the ESV to become more familiar with it. I have not had much exposure to the HCSB but I consult it at times. I also like the NLT but have never used the NASB.Claude Mariottini


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