Bible Translation

Underwhelming News: The NIV to be Updated

The blogsphere and twitter are alive with news that the NIV is to be updated and a new version published in 2011. The official press release states:

The global board of Biblica today announced its intention to update the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible, the first time it has been revised since 1984. The Committee on Bible Translation (CBT), the independent body of global biblical scholars solely responsible for the translation of the world’s most popular Bible, is slated to finish its revision late next year, with publication in 2011. The announcement was made at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Ill., the site of the historic first meeting of the CBT in 1965.

“We want to reach English speakers across the globe with a Bible that is accurate, accessible and that speaks to its readers in a language they can understand,” said Keith Danby, Global President and CEO of Biblica.  “This is why we are recommitting ourselves today to the original NIV charter, complete with its charge to monitor and reflect developments in English usage and Biblical scholarship by regularly updating the NIV Bible text.

So English, a language which already has more scholarly translations of the Bible than you can shake a stick at, is to get yet another translation. No doubt the publishers will also make a small fortune.

Meanwhile, there are still two thousand languages spoken by two hundred million people without a word of Scripture. Our priorities are all messed up!

If you want to follow the progress of the NIV 2011 there is a dedicated website, but we won’t be saying much about it here as we have more important things to look at!

This post is more than a year old. It is quite possible that any links to other websites, pictures or media content will no longer be valid. Things change on the web and it is impossible for us to keep up to date with everything.

9 replies on “Underwhelming News: The NIV to be Updated”

It’s a shrewd move. Actually a good lesson here for minority language translations that have been slammed.

I’m still not fully convinced that this isn’t an April Fools joke. Just seems to wild to be true.

Two observations:

One: KD says “If we want a Bible that English speakers around the world can understand, we have to listen to, and respect, the vocabulary they are using today,” but, in skimming through the current composition of the CBT, I do not get the sense that there is an increased understanding that both the Christian faith, the English language and Christian scholarship are now global.

Two: I’m not convinced the stylistic/substantive changes will be significant. I think that, rather, that this is a utilitarian move that will alter the landscape/change the balance of power on the distribution front.

I wait to see.

Good comment about globalization, Rombo. This seems more about marketing than anything else. Speaking of globalization it is entirely possible that the future is not in one standard version but in a plethora of niche translations. At least that seems where things are headed.

Eddie, there is another side to this. First, surely it is important that hundreds of millions of English speakers get an accurate translation, instead of the pseudo-archaism of ESV and the inaccurate mess of the 1984 NIV. Don’t forget that many minority language translations are based on the English, with only minor input from original languages, and so the English needs to be right. And then, don’t forget that IBS, now Biblica, has poured huge amounts of its profits from NIV into supporting minority language Bible publication worldwide. So don’t bite one of the hands that is feeding your own work.

Hi Eddie, I agree with Peter’s last two comments and would encourage you to remove the criticisms from your post (assuming that’s possible).

I come back to respectfully disagree with Peter Kirk and Steve Bagwell, in principle. I know (I do), that Biblica does valuable work around the world. But I don’t think it is good practice to let them off more lightly because of this, which is what I read between your lines. In fact, it’s all the more reason to hold them up to the highest standard, and to probe the genesis of a new translation or a new revision as thoroughly as possible.
I think Eddie is in his right to have his antennae up and that this is a conversation well worth having.


That’s an interesting suggestion right there. Regional Englishes instead of one standard English. Literature has already gone that way, pretty much. Hmmm. Would that we could see twenty years from now. That said, I’m really surprised there’s not been more debate about the composition of the CBT at this time in the history of the Church.

the TNIV as well (which Zondervan admitted was a mistake to publish)

Arukiyomi, please get your facts right. The CT blog originally misreported as about TNIV some negative points about the NIV Inclusive Language Edition, but later corrected their error. From memory Zondervan admitted that they had made mistakes in how they marketed TNIV, but that is not an admission that it was a mistake to publish it at all. In fact it has probably brought them a reasonable profit as TNIV has edged at times into the top ten Bibles list – just not as profitable as they might have hoped.

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