Friday, November 19, 2010

The New, Updated, NIV Bible, 2011

The NIV Bible is about to change. This is no surprise. The one you have on your nightstand is a 1984 revision of the original (from around '78 or so?). Over time language changes and develops and new translations are needed. A few years back the TNIV was introduced, not as a replacement but an alternative. It used gender inclusive language, and it was a bit smoother than the NIV, but a bit less literal. Last year it was announced that the TNIV would be discontinued and the NIV would be completey revised. But like the 1984 revision, the 2011 NIV is intended as a replacement. In other words, in a few months you will only be able to buy NIV Bibles like the one you own at second hand bookstores and clearance shelves. In a few years your Bible will be a relic.

Again, this is needed (theoretically, anyway). Language changes and develops over time. But this new NIV Bible will force a decision, because it's going to use gender inclusive language. John Dyer put together the following graphic, outlining words omitted from the 2011 NIV (the bigger the word the more it is omitted):
A study of verse comparisons is also helpful (and also provided by Dyer):

This is not meant to be alarmist or anything. I'm simply trying to point us to a fact. The entire flavour of the NIV will now be different. The following is a sample of comparison texts from John 1 (again, Dyer is my man):

Aside from the fact that a whole lot of your memorization is going to go down the drain (ha, ha), these changes are going to force us all to make a choice: is a gender-neutral Bible the most faithful bridge between the original and the current culture/language? It seems clear that this new NIV will force a polarity of sorts. I predict that more people will go to the ESV, with its relative readability and gender specific language, or the NLT, with its amazing readability and gender specific language. It seems bound to happen. Trevin Wax agrees with me (and puts it much more eloquently):
The problem I see with the NIV 2011 is that the publisher (Zondervan) seems to be putting churches and church leaders in a position where they are forced to make a choice. A few years ago, upon considering the resistance from some evangelicals toward the TNIV, Zondervan assured Bible-readers that the 1984 NIV would remain available. But no such assurance is given now. In fact, the publisher has expressly indicated the desire for the NIV 2011 to replace both the original NIV and the TNIV.
Anyway, the new NIV is now on-line at BibleGateway. If you choose the NIV in your search, the 2011 version is what you are searching in. If you go to the menu you'll see that 1984 NIV is also still an option.

Having said all that, I'm excited to buy and read a print version of this new NIV. I love the way the current NIV reads and I always like the way a new translation gives a fresh perspective on an old passage. I tend to steer clear of the NIV when I'm doing in-depth study or meditation. The ESV is far superior for that. But when I'm reading large chunks of God's word the NIV is far less clunky, and I'm guessing that the new NIV will be even more smooth!

As I close I'll point to this post, where my friend Darryl Dash interviews Douglas Moo, who is the head of the translation committee. Moo is a solid evangelical and one of the premier Bible commentators alive today. His commentary on Romans has been my constant companion since labour day and I'm loving every minute of it!


  1. Excellent blog Ian. It all boils down to if Jesus is smiling or not. be richly blessed,

  2. The NIV?

    It mocks the Word of God


  4. Concerning the New NIV Translation. I think that the translators are overreaching beyond their translation duties. That is, in changing masculine pronouns to gender neutral and gender inclusive. The majority of females I know have no problem with the masculine pronouns. It might be that there was pressure from the publishers or possibly feminist influence of the committee for bible translation. It seems that the translators an agenda from the start using the TNIV as the model for the new translation. Two important things are being missed in Bible translation philosophy today. One, the bible was written mainly “to” and “for” Christians (believers), not the world (unbelievers). Secondly, Pastors are the ones who “teach” or “expound” on the bible to congregants, not translators. Pastors are shepherds of God’s people not the translators. Reliability to the text not just “readability” by publishers and others. The Ethiopian eunuch is a good example of what I’m talking about.(Acts 8:31) As a pastor it’s my responsibility to bring people to Christ and then “teach” them to apply scripture in their daily lives to be followers of Christ.
    It should be interesting to see if the New NIV Translation remains as the best selling english bible translation. Time will tell.

  5. I'm one of those whose memorization of Scripture will likely be challenged by the changes to the NIV. I just added the NIV2011 module to my Accordance Bible software. This gives me the opportunity to view the 1984 and 2011 side by side. The result will probably be that I'll start quoting from some kind of hybrid of the two, picking and choosing which phrase I like better, passage by passage. I'm looking forward to seeing which English translation of the Bible will be at the top of the charts this time next year.

  6. Let's quit back biting one another and start abiding in Christ and sharing the fruit of the Spirit with our friends and neighbors.

  7. I am so sad to lose the very language that I have learned and memorized from the Word of God for over thirty years. The Word of the Lord endures forever--but I never thought that I would have to hoard an actual hard copy of it! I returned the latest NIV 2011 which I bought by accident, and bought an ESV to use for teaching in the women's prison. There are already enough gender issues there that I feel I must switch immediately for their sake, at least for teaching. I can't decide whether or not to continue memorizing in the "old" New International Version.

  8. Dear Anonymous,
    I had the same issue when I first began switching from the NIV, first to the NASB, and then to the ESV. I felt like I was almost sinning by reading a different translation. But now I'm at home in the ESV, and like it even more than the NIV. I love your servant's heart, thinking of the people you minister to, over your own preferences. Keep serving Jesus with this spirit!


    .the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." 2 Timothy 4:2-4

    Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it." Deuteronomy 12:32

    "Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.
    Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar." Proverbs 30:5-6

  10. The 1984 NIV version is no longer an option at