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NIV 50th Anniversary

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the (commissioning of the) NIV, the most widely read modern English translation of the Bible in the world. Celebrations began at ETS last year with a dinner hosted by Zondervan and will culminate this fall with the release of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible. I am pretty excited about this study Bible. I haven’t read the NIV in years and wasn’t expecting to want to read it exclusively ever again, but when this study Bible lands on my doorstep I plan to read it cover-to-cover right away.

A bit of background is warranted, I think, for those reading this who might be where I was just a few years ago. My history with the Bible is that from spiritual inception ten years ago to about a year in, all I read was the NIV. It was the Bible I was given when I became a Christian, and it was the only Bible that the people I knew used, taught/preached from, talked about, etc. But then I discovered the NASB. I loved the idea of a faithful, word-for-word translation; and so, I abandoned the NIV and exclusively read the NASB. Fast forward another year, and I had become a rabid cage-stage young, restless, Reformed Calvinist. So of course, I became ESV-only. With the advent of the 2011 NIV, my already low opinion of the NIV (due to a lack of understanding about Bible translation) sunk to its nadir due to the new NIV’s gender neutering. I say all this in case someone reading this holds the misguided notions I once did. It’s a great time to give the NIV another chance with the forthcoming NIV Zondervan Study Bible. This study Bible is edited by D.A. Carson and it was the full-time project of Andy Naselli for four years. If my words mean nothing, surely theirs have a lot of clout!

Check out the video below to hear some of the members (e.g. Doug Moo, Karen Jobes, Bill Mounce, etc.) of the translation committee talk about the ongoing work they do to ensure a faithful and beautiful translation. The video after that is of Dr. Doug Moo’s talk at the NIV celebration dinner at ETS last year entitled “We Still Don’t Get It: Evangelicals and Bible Translation Fifty Years After James Barr” (PDF here for those who prefer reading). The last video is of Dr. D.A. Carson talking about some of the features of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible. And finally, though the year is just over half over, the special 50th anniversary free NIV Bible App is still worth checking out for limited time access to some NIV study Bibles and other resources. Stay tuned for more of my thoughts on the NIV in general as well as the new study Bible.

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8 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this. And Douglas Moo’s speech/article is dense, but well worth the read. Thanks so much, Jennifer.

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  2. I appreciate this a lot, Jennifer. Like yourself, I dismissed the NIV when I was in college (when I first started to study theology) in favor of the RSV/NRSV and the newly minted ESV. But when I discovered the NIV later, I was very impressed, and I am still routinely impressed. There are several passages that I prefer in either the RSV or the ESV, and I would never recommend the NIV as the sole translation for anyone. But now that I actually know Hebrew and Greek (albeit in limited capacities), I can see the hard work, fidelity, and love for the church that went into creating the NIV.

    Even the 2011 update is mostly positive for me, even though I have no problem with “man” as a generic term. There were definite improvements in the Pauline corpus and elsewhere, effectively muting much of the criticism that has been directed at the NIV for years. Vern Poythress has the most in-depth criticism of the 2011 update (in a WTJ article), but I found much of it rather pedantic. For most people, the pluralizing of moral dictums (“They who…” instead of “He who…”) implies the singular. We do this everyday without thinking.

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  3. It should be called “The Not so New International Version.” Wow, 50 years.

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  4. Ruben Cardenas

     /  July 16, 2015

    I think this is just one more excellent edition of Holy Writ with some fabulous scholars whose contributions in the articles and commentary notes will serve the whole church quite well for a long time.

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  5. Nelson R. Pardee

     /  September 30, 2015

    Nearly all long time Christ followers experience a journey through translation choice. In that process, we forget that we get all bent out of shape over a choice that the rest of the world doesn’t even have! That said, the best practical book I’ve encountered is Dave Brunn’s, “One Bible, Many Versions.” Brunn writes out of his work as a translator for New Tribes Mission, comparing various version, using copious real examples from the field and around the world, and , in my words, always keeping in mind that accuracy means *understanding by the reader.*

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    • That’s an excellent book indeed! And yes, in a sense the translation debates is a “first world problem.” In the midst of thinking through translation issues there have been many times when I’ve been awed by how much of a blessing it is to have so many choices when so many tongues do not have a single translation. Having said that, I think the cliche “with great power comes great responsibility” applies. Because we do have so many choices, I do think it’s important to be informed about them. Perhaps the issue is that among typical lay (American?) conservative evangelicals translation theory is presented in an overly simplistic manner and typically colored by partisan-ish issues.

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  1. NIV Zondervan Study Bible – On Translation Fidelity |

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