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I’ve spent some time looking over the recently revised New International Version of Scripture. The online version has been available for two weeks now.

NIV readers who had philosophical misgivings about the TNIV (primarily because of its rendering of the text in a gender-neutral manner) will be happy to see that some of the more controversial revisions in the TNIV have been modified. Still, the NIV 2011 appears to retain its overall commitment to a gender-neutral translation philosophy.

I don’t want to use this space to get into a debate about the merits of gender-neutral translations. I’ve read through the TNIV on several occasions. I’m a big fan of The Bible Experience as a way of listening to the Bible being read (or better said, “performed”). In seminary, I was required to read books on both sides of the discussion. Good brothers (or should I say, brothers and sisters?) may disagree sharply about translation philosophy. Yet surely we can agree that a person’s conviction on this matter should not cause us to look upon one another with scorn.

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.

Though many evangelicals have gravitated toward other translations (such as the English Standard Version or the Holman Christian Standard Bible), most evangelical churches continue to use the 1984 NIV as their common text. NIV Bibles occupy the pews in thousands of churches, giving it the prominence of being a kind of “default” contemporary translation.

But the widespread use of the NIV as a “standard” English translation will probably disappear. Why? Because this most recent revision (one that straddles the fence between dynamic and formal equivalence, between gender-neutral and gender-specific language) seals the translation philosophy for the NIV as it eventually replaces the 1984 version.

Many faithful NIV readers will not overlook the differences between the original NIV and this recent revision. I don’t foresee pastors and churches quickly updating all their literature and switching to the new NIV in the coming decade. Since the old NIV will eventually be out of print, pastors and churches will be forced to make a choice. Either make the move to the NIV 2011 or move to another translation altogether.

We live in a world of constant updates. The programs on my computer require me to update often. A trustworthy program in one decade may require an update installation in order to continue to function properly. But the Bible is not like a computer program. Translation updates are necessary, yes. But they must be done with great care. People read, study, and memorize the Scriptures. To force readers to update to a new version is counterproductive.

I am at a loss as to why the NIV 2011 will force the original NIV out of commission. Why not keep both in circulation? Goodness, we can still read translations like the King James which are hundreds of years old.

It’s ironic that the NIV 2011 revision is scheduled to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the King James Version, the most popular and most influential English translation of all time. Unfortunately, the launch of this new revision will have the opposite effect of the KJV. The King James Version united Bible readers around a common text. I’m afraid the NIV 2011 will speed up the growing fragmentation of evangelicals in regards to Bible translations.

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81 thoughts on “The NIV 2011 Forces a Choice”

  1. Norm Brock says:

    excellent post, right on target.

  2. danny says:

    Zondervan already did what you’re asking them to do. They published the TNIV separately from the NIV, and it didn’t work out.

  3. Darryl says:

    Douglas Moo has said:

    “It has been 25 years since the NIV was revised — mainly because the International Bible Society, in response to severe criticism, “froze” the text of the NIV in 1997. The current CEO of Biblica (the new name for the International Bible Society) has admitted that that decision was a mistake. They have determined to return to the language of the CBT charter, which calls on the NIV to be revised periodically to reflect the current state of biblical scholarship and contemporary English.”

    This seems to make sense. If they’re going to revise this as a living document, they probably don’t want to support a 1984 version, 2011 version, and so on. Maybe in an electronic era this will make sense. I’m not sure. Time will tell.

  4. Derek says:

    I think it is funny that through James White’s book, The King James Only Controversary, (I read the 1st ed. about 10 years ago) he compares the popularity of the NIV with Evangelicals today to the popularity the KJV has had over the past two hundred years and constantly reminds his reads with tongue in cheek: “maybe someone will oneday have to write a booked called ‘The NIV Only Controversary’.”

    I think Zondervan has almost guaranteed that this will not happen.

  5. Dan Masshardt says:

    Agreed. They are doing the right thing I think. People need to realize that an excellent translation does not remain excellent forever. KJV was wonderful in 1611, it is not an excellent translation for today’s readers. The 84 NIV is still very good, but it cannot be frozen or people will still be reading it in 200 years when it is hopelessly out of date.

  6. Dan Masshardt says:

    I meant to indicate that I agree with danny’s comment above.

  7. Steve says:

    I don’t know anybody in my theologically-moderate church who memorizes scripture anymore. The reasons are several, but a very basic explanation is we have no “textus receptus,” as it were. We have the NRSV in the pews, but we only read that for worship. People who carry Bibles probably have the NIV largely, a few carry The Message, and a few the NKJV or the ESV. If memorization is a value nowadays, it would be helpful if evangelicals could find a way to coalesce around a version that we agree will be among us for the foreseeable future. Scholars working for a version that’s closest to correct, and people waiting for that to appear so they can own it, may be counterproductive. Our grandparents hid the error-laden KJV in their hearts, and they were likely as redeemed as we are. Plus they were comforted by God’s Word actually abiding in their hearts and minds.

  8. Brent Hobbs says:

    I understand Zondervan’s decision to replace, rather than supplement the ’84 NIV. The 2011 version is a better translation in so many areas. I know some will disagree with some of the gender-neutral choices they’ve made (because they profess to not believe it’s ever, or very rarely, appropriate) but as I’ve looked at them, I think they were made with a great deal of sensitivity and caution. I don’t agree with them all, but then I’ve not yet found a translation I’m happy with 100% of the time.

    The vast majority of changes are for the better and made one of the strongest modern translations even stronger. It does force a choice, which brings problems along with it, but overall I think they’ve done the best thing.

    This update did force me to choose between staying with the NIV or switching to the ESV, HCSB, or other. At this point, my plan is to stay with the NIV because I think it is a stronger translation, all things considered, than anything else available.

  9. Paul W says:

    I agree that new translations should be released with the utmost care. I’m not sure that the TNIV was. A small amount of ‘field testing’ would have revealed areas of concern. A small number of verses often act as litmus tests for the whole version (recall the RSV and Isaiah 7:14). Nevertheless, 91.5% of the verses in the 2011 remain from the TNIV.

    As far as the gender neutral language, if the word adelphoi actually means ‘brothers’, but is used in a way which is intended to convey ‘brothers and sisters’ then I think the word meaning should be translated with a footnote describing the (supposed) intended meaning in context. This points out where there is value in different versions: wooden, literal for students; graceful (but faithful) for reading and memorizing; and simple for non-English speakers or children. Not sure where the paraphrase fits in. From what I’ve seen the ESV has already taken hold in many protestant circles.

  10. Chris Land says:

    I agree that people will have to choose which translation they want to read the Bible in. I made my switch to the ESV over two years ago and have not looked back ever since. I have looked at the updated NIV and felt I was reading an updated TNIV. I think the new NIV is another attempt to make people more Biblically illiterate and theologically ignorant.

  11. Laura says:

    just to lighten everything, i just think it’s a bit funny that there is a “new new international version” calling it The New NIV sometimes makes this less obvious, but still brings a smile to my face when it clicks. what will the acronym be? (because everything needs an acronym!!) NNIV? TNNIV? (the T standing for the simple word the)….

    personally I’m getting more into the ESV lately and have basically made the switch over. I don’t think I’ll be buying anymore NIVs or even NNIVs … but do like reading my old NIV study Bible with lots of meaningful scribble in it :)

  12. Brent Hobbs says:

    To Chris above, I wish you wouldn’t make statements like that – it calls into question the motives of the translators, many of whom are very respected names in conservative, evangelical scholarship. There is no truth to the idea that it is an attempt at making people theologically ignorant.

    Speaking of ignorance, you say that you “haven’t looked back” since switching to the ESV. Maybe you should look into some of the criticisms of the ESV. It is another good translation, but some want to act like it stands head and shoulders above all others. It doesn’t. The problems and issues are more than enough to make me and others question that.

    The ESV-only crowd is starting to sound more like a cult than a group who has done their research and simply prefers a specific translation.

    See Strauss’ article on Why the ESV Shouldn’t Be the Standard English Version if you want to see some pretty vivid examples.

  13. Holden Caulfield says:

    More being written on translations – yawn.
    Put it to bed already!

  14. Chris Land says:

    I was a TNIV user and loved it. What I should have done was check out the entire translation before making the switch. I went back to the NIV then started reading the ESV. I did my research on the ESV before I made it my main translation.

    About that cult comment. Granted I love the ESV, but I do not worship it. I love Jesus and I respect God’s word. I am not like those who say you use a certain translation, will go to hell. Where is grace in that? I make a case against the update NIV is because Biblica said they would not make changes to the NIV after the TNIV was made and went against it. I felt the translators of the TNIV mishandled the scriptures and did the same thing to the NIV.

    I love the NASB and admire preachers who preach from it because it is so literal. I am not too crazy about the HCSB because its sloppy, but I will not make my love for the ESV seem like I am one of those KJV only legalists.

  15. Pew Potato says:

    The best acronym I’ve been seeing is the UNIV for Updated NIV. And U comes after T :)

  16. Hugh says:

    I think it is ‘horses for courses': the NNIV reads well and will be useful for public worship, especially in churches where many people are still on the journey to commitment, because it is modern in language but memorable in writing; the Revised English Bible is excellent for close study because of its very careful and precise translation of the original texts; The Message is excellent for evangelism because of a clear focus on the intention of the writers. None the less I can quote the AV (King James)version in my sleep!

  17. Joe White says:

    The sad fact is that a copyrighted version of the Bible functions as a profit center for a company like Zondervan.

    We don’t like to think that they will behave as if this is true, but it is true and a lot of money can potentially be made with a new translation.

    Are the decisions being made reflective of that reality? I think it’s safe to say that Zondervan execs are well aware of the potential for profit.

    Lest some think this too cynical, I’ll gladly change my view if Zondervan doesn’t market the new version in dozens of different high priced ‘Study Bibles’ of every description and format and just comes out with a low priced everyday Bible.

  18. Ryan says:

    The answer is profit. Now that Zondervan is owned by a big corporation like Harper Collins they are held accountable for their lost market share from the TNIV experiment.

    This has been the impetus for the NIV 2011 in that Zondervan realized the TNIV cost them default status as the translation of choice in the NIV. In order to once again try and claim that title and rescue falling sales in Bibles, Zondervan is trying to find the middle of the road again that will satisfy everyone again and bring back the massive crowd that went to the ESV.

    I know this sounds a little much, but to think Harper Collins is willing to tolerate such a loss in market share to publishers like B&H and Crossway in the Bible world is just naive.

    If anyone thinks I am wrong, than at least be willing to answer me this; do you really believe Zondervan would be canceling the TNIV and creating a new edition just five years after its launch if the TNIV was selling as well as the NIV did?

  19. Mason Slater says:

    Ryan and Joe,
    The publishing industry is a business, and businesses exist for (among other reasons) making money so as to pay their employees and make a profit.

    That’s true for Zondervan, and Crossway, and Baker, and IVP. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just capitalism. And it doesn’t say anything one way or the other about the quality of the new edition of the NIV.

    In fact, Zondervan does not create any translations. None at all.

    The committee that produced the NIV and TNIV have licensed Zondervan to publish it (along with other publishers around the world) but they get no say in the content of the translation.

    Will they market it? Yeah, of course. But why would we fault them for that or judge the worth of the NIV based on the people who might make a living selling them?

  20. Mason Slater says:

    And really, there is no “NIV 2011″, anymore than there is an “NIV 1984″ It is still just the NIV, updated like almost all translations are over the years.

  21. Ian says:

    I think you will find it is Biblica (formerly IBS) not Zondervan who made the decision to switch to the NIV 2011. The 1984 NIV licenses to both Zondervan and Hodder were due to expire in 2012, and so Biblica were able to review their whole strategy, making the decision to fully revise the NIV/TNIV into a single edition. At that point no new licenses had been granted.

    The new licenses were give to Hodder and Zondervan again, but it seems in return for the surrender of the TNIV license that still had years to run.

  22. Steve D. says:

    I don’t know, Trevin. Maybe expecting the publisher to maintain two versions of the NIV is an unreasonable expectation. All translations are revised from time to time, albeit without such a dramatic shift in philosophy. Also, if some in the ESV crowd had their way with the NIV update, then it likely would look like an updated ESV (which might not be a bad idea). For the most part, I really like the TNIV, and even preach from it (gasp!). I use the ESV a lot. However, I’m not crazy about some of the changes in the NIV2011. The use of “mankind”, “humankind”, etc. in place of “man” (NIV1984), “humanity” or “human beings” (TNIV). What does that accomplish? And translating sarx is a problem. Should it be “sinful nature” or “flesh” or “body” or what? Whatever the choice, how does the translator handle Romans 8:6?

  23. Jimmy says:

    I am just an old happy NASB person…

  24. Ryan says:

    Mason I am not arguing that business is bad. I love business and am all for people using their gifts to make money and create jobs.

    I was simply highlighting that do you think for one second that the NIV 2011 would have even been giving a second thought over at Zondervan if not for the poor sales of the TNIV?

    My point is that this is money and market share are playing a huge role in all of this as I am sure Zondervan did not anticipate all the controversy that followed the TNIV and its incredibly short shelf-life.

  25. brian says:

    they went back on their word not to update the TNIV mainly because of money issues…. it’s all about money anymore and the NIV is Zondervan’s cash cow.

  26. Kathy says:

    Is there really a massive crowd that switched to ESV? I find it hard to believe as no one I know has even heard of it. I got one and read through it. Its okay but imho no better or worse than several other versions. But I know a lot of dedicated Bible readers who read a lot of versions and none of them use ESV and look at mine with suspision.

  27. Andy says:

    Hi, I liked the NIV and have, like you, looked at the 2011 NIV. Yes, there are gender differences between the two, but, as a man myself, I find it easier to preach the uncompromising word of God if it is only mentioning men like me (but women are also included in God’s love and Word). I am not bothered that much by the gender rendering, and find that the NIV 2011 is more clear and gives us better understanding of the text, but is it really good for outreach? The original NIV has had text that was good to use to preach God’s word, and even though they may think it’s a flat translation and had to be replaced by a new one, I feel that there was so much good regarding the original NIV and will have a hard time going to the new one (btw, they want it to replace the two, maybe because they can’t call it the 2011 NIV, but the NIV). I don’t believe it is good for memorizing (the 2011 one), and yeah, I agree with you about the original NIV as the “basic” contemporary translation. The 2011 retained a lot of the TNIV, and also, I feel that the original one can prepare new converts to endure the realities of what it takes to become a Christian, better than the new one (though the new one is composed of better scholarship, indeed). So there are fundamental problems.

    I am leaning towards the side of retaining the original NIV – although I will cherish the new one as a competent translation.

  28. Eric Peterson says:

    Mason, I happen to know that “profits” from IVP are invested directly back into InterVarsity’s campus ministry where the gospel extends to students on 550+ campuses in the US. In addition IVP publishes many books for motives other than profit: like academic scholarship, the evangelical conversation, reference books, to publish authors from the Black, Hispanic, or Asian American perspective, or for use with college students on the campus.

    Don’t Christian Publishers publish with a similar mix of motives? Influence, Scholarship, and the Glory of God?

  29. Andy Chance says:

    Has textual criticism really changed that much since 1984? Have biblical studies really advanced so much? Has the English language really changed so dramatically?

    Probably not. I know someone is going to respond about the incredible advances that have been made in our understanding of original languages or the manuscripts that have been discovered or the rapidly changing us of gender language. I just don’t buy it. It’s ridiculous really.

  30. John says:

    Well, I’m looking forward to getting the new NIV. English has changed and some updates need to be done, just like every other translation. And just like every other translation, some will hate it and some will love it.

  31. Stev says:

    English as spoken has not changed very much in the last 100 years. I have no trouble communicating with my 102-year-old great aunt.

    I am also not aware of any new significant fragments of the NT being discovered since the NA26th. Nor of the OT since the Dead Sea Scrolls. The textual criticism argument is questionable without new textual information.

    What has happened is that the ideology of feminism wants to force us to change our language in a 1984 NewSpeak sort of way.

    The TNIV and 2011 are attempts to please that non-Christian ideology.

    The message is a commentary on the Bible, not the Bible, it is not a translation of the text in one language into another language.

    No translation -can- be perfect, likewise however, neither are any translators, they all have their opinions and biases, whether pro-monarchy (King James), pro-evolution (ESV), feminist (NRSV, TNIV, 2011), etc.

    I wouldn’t trust the fluff put out by the publishing houses. I’ve heard the ESV promoted by a publisher as being genuinely word-for-word, which of course, is impossible. Not even an interlinear can pull that off.

    It would be helpful if every translation committee included specific notes as to the choices made where they differ from the tradition. Unfortunately, only one does, the WEB. It is hardly a perfect translation, either, but at least they are open about what they did and why.

  32. klm says:

    Interesting, insightful post. Though I think you meant the Net bible instead of WEB.

  33. Life goes on. It’s sad that the changes the CBT wanted to make in the 1990’s were derailed, but we know that history. This is a good work, and most people who use the 1984 NIV, including pastors, I don’t think will blink an eye. Not as to switching to the new NIV, which essentially is the NIV. I for one am glad that the two NIV’s are now gone: I mean the NIV 1984 versus the TNIV. Life goes on and translations must move with it.

  34. David Legg says:

    I agree with the main point of the article.
    Interesting times.
    It’s all rather like the latest Windows or Linux upgrade isn’t it. Shall I move to Windows 7/Fedora 14 or whatever? Why should I bother? Oh, you’ll probably be forced to …

  35. Chris Crain says:

    Great synopsis Trevin. For pastors who preach expositional sermons, most want a translation that is on the right side of the spectrum in paraphrase/dynamic/formal scale. For me, the existing NIV had been satisfactory in this regard. I began using the NIV before taking Greek in college and then specializing in biblical languages in my M.Div. work. I stuck with it because I wanted to use a Bible that people were actually reading.

    However, this development pushed me to ESV. I think the argument that the English language is changing quickly is WAY overblown. WAY overblown. This is about money–pure and simple.

    Talk to your historical lit. friends….the other great classics are not being updated to the same degree as the Bible….why? It DOESN’T PAY THE BIG BUCKS! The Bible is THE big seller. Do I blame Zondervan? Well, they have families to feed.

    However, I choose to move on to great translation that I should have been using for a while anyway.

  36. J says:

    I have truly enjoyed the NIV 84, I think it is the best translation when it comes to readability and accuracy, harmonizing word and thought styles so well. I dislike the 2011 and have decided to leave it. For the past couple years I have read the NIV and NLT about 60/40. I think the NIV will be replaced by the HCSB.

  37. John says:

    I’m wondering why the NIV was updated in 1984. I’m still using the original 1978 version. I don’t like change. :(

    1. Alexander Thomson says:

      John, Do you know where I might obtain a list of the differences between the 1978 and 1984 editions of the NIV?

  38. Marcus says:

    There’s a money connection somewhere is why they are forcing a change. The money rights for the TNIV weren’t required to be split between two parties…I believe Zondervan and IBS (Biblica).

    I will BET…and I would…that the REAL reason for the change is that someone is going to make more money (or all of it) instead of the splitting. It usually comes down to $$ even w/Bibles.

    I mean really…why would they change their gender language if the TNIV was really the most accurate? Or were they making it more appealing for purchasers back then? Or, are they making it more appealing now? When does public comment change translation?

    Why transliterate words like baptism instead of use immerse/plunge? Deacon instead of servant?

  39. Marcus says:

    I should clarify…the REAL reason not for changing, but for making the old version inaccessible is $$…not the change in and of itself.

    I mean…why make it unavailable and remove the choice? I think translations should stay as they are and give the version a new name leaving all of them available. (i.e. you have ASV/RSV still available and they’re named differently.)

  40. John says:

    Many translations, when updates, don’t print the old ones anymore. Two that come to mind are the ESV and HCSB. The ESV updated it’s text in 2007 and the HCSB has had several updates, the latest in 2010. Even though they updates the text, they were still called by their original names, much like the NIV.

    I agree with the comment about Bible sales being the driver for the publishing houses that control the translations, and you rarely see multiple publishers for the various translations.

  41. Ed says:

    I’m encouraging people I know to buy 1984 NIVs while they still can if they like that version. I study from the NAS and memorize the NIV. Comparing the 2011 NIV to the 84 version, I did not make it through Genesis before deciding this would never work for me, and I would never recommend it to anyone.

    Since when did political correctness become a principle of translation? The phrase “gender inclusive” is misleading. The Scriptures are gender inclusive just the way they are written. If you disagree with that our disagreement is over interpretation, not translation. This translation does not reflect changes that have occurred in the English language in the last 25 years (a preposterous idea in and of itself). It reflects changes in people’s attitudes toward gender in general.

    How many translations are we away from using even more “inclusive” language that reflects the ever-changing attitudes of a sinful world?

    These translators have not been faithful to the Scriptures. They are willfully ignoring what is written; willfully mistranslating masculine pronouns, and there is NO GOOD reason for it. Maybe it would be better to maintain some semblance of faithfulness to the Scriptures…let them stand and have THEM mold US. The Bible is not an operating system. We don’t need updates the first Tuesday of each month to keep it relevant.

    I am very sad.

  42. Mark says:

    I asked my brother what version to go to since I do not like the updated NIV. He said many churches along with his have already jumped ship to ESV. Maybe its an area thing.

  43. Mark says:

    I agree, I am very sad. This is a sign of the times. Prepare yourself spiritualy and pray to God for wisdom. I am sure this is just the first of many changes. Next “Christ” could become a female “Christi”
    Regardless, of the arguements, pray for your unsaved friends that do not already know God’s love. The time is short. No one knows the day or the hour.

  44. Robert Ortega says:

    I’ve already purchased several copies of the NIV translation so when the NIV 2011 takes over I’ll be supplied. This is going to be a New Coke marketing flop. Zondervan has abused their market leadership by attempting for force the public to update their bibles and as you put it re-memorized bible verses. Who dictates the market the publisher or the public? When sales go down, they’ll come come around.

  45. Robert Ortega says:

    you should compare both versions

  46. Darryl says:

    Hmmmmm. I’ve read, studied and been taught God’s Word all my life (I’ll be 59 this August, Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise). I really got to know the KJV starting in ’73 in the Navy through The Navigators. In ’85 I studied what was available and chose NIV as the best translation. In ’03 I chose the ESV, but…for some reason…kept going to the updated New American Standard (well, it was written in response to the RSV, and the ESV is a very minor revision of the RSV…). Now, in ’11 I really like and use two versions: the NET and…the TNIV. At the moment, I believe there are only 4 worthwhile translations: NRSV, NET, TNIV and NLTse. Thanks, and make it an Outstanding day!

  47. Former Dilbert-type says:

    I used to work for Zondervan, and really feel little loyalty to their direction these days.

    However, the slander and insinuation here is ungodly and shocking. Here is how it works:

    The CBT have complete autonomy on the content of the NIV, and there is no editorial input from either Zondervan or Hodder on the actual direction of translation policy. At the point of revision Biblica invited Zondervan and Hodder to come in and pitch for the rights to publish the 2011 revision. When the license was awarded there was probably an advance payment made to Biblica, and there will be an ongoing royalty paid from each copy sold. This money goes into Biblica’s excellent work in providing bible translations around the world.

    Zondervan do not decide on the translation, the release schedule or any other issue relating to the Bible text. They do control the ‘meta-text’ – study notes, commentaries etc. They will have also agreed a range of editions as part of their pitch.

    Please, stop making slanderous insinuations that cannot be substantiated.

    I would also recommend this excellent article from a pastor who switched from ESV to NIV-11:

  48. Josh Hunt says:

    I agree; I wish they would give us the choice of both. I guess they think that would be confusing in the marketplace. I guess if you have LOGOS yo will always have both.

  49. Wendyl says:

    Ha! “Christi!” What a hoot. And I’m thinking you’re right about that. PC has run amok in this nation . . . even including those of our so-called modern bible translators. The TNIV and the NIV2011 are classic examples of this.

    The real problem I’m seeing with all these new translations is that we now have a totally destabilized bible. We have the preacher reading from the NIV2011, Suzie Blu in the second pew reading from the New Living Translation, Joe Blow in the 12th pew reading from the Message, and another reading from the Contemporary English Version. It’s Bible 101 gone crazy! And “woe” to the “new” Christian. If you think he(she) is confused now . . . just wait.

  50. Someone may have already replied to this comment:

    “Ryan and Joe,
    The publishing industry is a business, and businesses exist for (among other reasons) making money so as to pay their employees and make a profit.

    That’s true for Zondervan, and Crossway, and Baker, and IVP. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just capitalism.”

    For the record, Crossway is a nonprofit publishing ministry. Whatever one may think of the ESV, it was not published for profit.

  51. Mac says:

    “The publishing industry is a business, and businesses exist for (among other reasons) making money so as to pay their employees and make a profit.”

    While true, why would a Christian buy a Bible from a company that is owned by the company that publishes the satanic bible?

  52. Tina says:

    I first began to read the Bible using the NIV (1984 version) and I truly believe the Holy Spirit used it for my spiritual growth in Christ, especially the first couple of years. I have read other translations as well, and though I prefer a more literal translation now, the NIV still has spoken to me in ways other translations haven’t.

    That said, it saddens me that we constantly have to update God’s UNCHANGING word to fit our “so-called” ever-changing language. I don’t believe the English language has changed THAT much in the last 27 years to need to update the NIV. Not just that, but having more and more Bible translations can hinder a new believer and make them question which is the right one!

    I struggled for a long time (and still do) about which translation to use. I’ve come to accept that no translation will be 100% correct to the original God-breathed texts since ALL were translated by falliable humans (and other translations that are a translation of a translation).

    Thankfully God is not limited to a single translation, but if the translation is not saying what God said in the original texts, then I don’t believe it will profit our spiritual growth much (because, after all, it would be a lie). That’s why I’m coming to believe that creating new translations of something that’s unchanging, or constantly updating to fit our way of speaking (which doesn’t really change THAT fast) is wrong in every aspect!

  53. As a firm believer in the superiority (not exclusivity) of the Textus Receptus, as well as the open-mindedness and fear of God of the KJV Translators who advocated other translations as ways in which God speaks, I find much good in the TNIV Study Bible for it’s boldness in translating graphic OT textsn and it’s study notes. Of course I have issues with the text at places, but I use modern translations as commentaries in which God can shed light, while using the TR Greek/KJV for final authority.

  54. Arjen Vreugdenhil says:

    Nothing new under the sun… The KJV you can buy in the store today differs from the original KJV. During its first decades, the KJV went through a number of reprints, each at least slightly different from the previous version. And I suspect that less thought/discussion was devoted to these revisions than to the revised NIV.
    To those who tend to attach themselves to specific phrases and formulations, I would recommend learning how to read Hebrew and Greek. Those texts do not change, so you are no longer at the mercy of translator’s and publisher’s choices. Personally, I appreciate the efforts of the NIV translators to improve on their earlier work.

  55. Steve says:

    When the NIV2011 came out, I purchased a nice copy. I reviewed it, and, within 30 days I took it back and had my money refunded. It is a rehash of the TNIV, which I considered SO bad, I didn’t allow it in the house. I am in the process of switching over to either the NASB or the ESV, either of which is a vast improvement of the Zondervan product. I do not begrudge the scholars who produced the NIV2011; but, I feel they have an agenda that I cannot abide.

  56. Hector Sindano says:

    Seeing as the 1984 NIV is no longer “New” – maybe it should continue life as the OIV – Original International Version. That way the scholars and academics can carry on revising and updating their NIV to their hearts’ content while the rest of us carry on worship.

  57. Jonathan K says:

    Well I owned a TNIV and used it as my main translation for 2 years, during this time it was a blessing to me every day and God used this translation to speak to me, when I heard that they were making a new NIV, the NIV 2011. I despaired and my interest in my own TNIV dwindled greatly, it seems that nowadays you’ve just bought a new Bible and then its revised and this annoyed me. Previously I had been given as a gift an NLT, over time I switched to this, but still referred to my TNIV the odd time, after a time God led me back to my routes in the KJV and I bought a new leather bound KJV, this God used so much, my ability to quote scripture was much greater because of the poetic strength of it. Over the last ten years or more, I have used KJV, NKJV, Amplified, TNIV, NLT and God has used them all for specific periods in my life as main translations. At the moment I mainly use the ESV, not because its any better than the others, I just find it the best at the moment in my life for serious and devotional study of the Bible, especially since I have an ESV Study Bible, notes are very good and I refer to the KJV regularly when required, TNIV isn’t really used now. TNIV, I remember it fondly as a translation with which I was richly blessed, as for NIV 2011, I can’t say i’m impressed, its a waste of money, there’s very little difference and any changes i’ve seen aren’t good, better to stick with the TNIV if your blessed by God speaking to you through it.

  58. Joshua Lieder says:

    For any new believers, the multiple versions and the constant updates can be very distracting. I have tried to find some decent pointed evangelical conservative criticism of the 2011 NIV, but its not simple to find online. I also have looked at some free samples given away at our local Christian bookstore. What I see in the notes peaks my interests as a seminarian but I do agree “the committee” at Zondervan raise both sides of an interpretation and sometimes do not take a stance on either. I chuckled when I read something similar to “There really is no evidence for this, however” yet the translators felt it important enough to expound for 1/4 inch in the text notes previous to this final comment. Very odd. I lean toward the ESV lately but my pastor and I are concerned about the liberal use of the word “whore” which we agree would not convey well in public settings. As for my NASB, I just rediscovered it and may read it more. I was attracted to the color maps and notes in the 2011 NIV but even in its larger print study Bible versions the font is too small to read on what would otherwise have been great maps/notes. Also, is it me or does the new NIV 2011 Quest Study Bible have fewer questions/common answers in it? I found that very disturbing as its my favorite Bible for study, private and church bible studywise. Have a look at the font in this version…its larger but its use seems to be hiding a decided lack of notes in the margins. There are not more, there are fewer notes now. Why is that Zondervan?

  59. Joshua Lieder says:

    Theologically moderate? Wow, I would be embarrassed to admit that not many memorize scripture anymore. Sounds like a dying congregation. My pastor has asked me to memorize one passage from Philipians. I am going to try harder now that I read your alarming sad embarrassing post. Is moderate akin to the word in Revelation – “lukewarm”? Remember what happened to that church? (Shudder)

  60. John says:

    The problem with memorizing scripture these days is the number of translations to choose from. Back in the day, when most people used the KJV, it was a lot easier because what you learned 30 years ago was the same today. Now, even if you settle on a main translation, there is still changes. The ESV came out in 2001 and has already had 2 changes to the text in 10 years! For nearly 30 years, my scripture memorization was in the NIV. I probably won’t go back and update that, since it’s already in my brain, either to the updated NIV or another translation. Even though updated versions may be a little more accurate in places, just because they are updated doesn’t make the older ones obsolete (I still read and use the 2001 ESV for example and probably won’t’upgrade’to the newer one).

  61. Why single out the NIV 2011 when the ESV is just as guilty in terms of contributing to the fragmentation of the evangelical world? The NIV 1984 needed to be replaced for a long time. And I think Danny makes a very astute observation in his comment (3rd in this thread).

  62. Ferdinand Titular says:

    I am using the NIV Bible since I am a bible school student in early 1980′s and until now I become a Pastor here in the Philiipines. I always recommended this translation to all my church members because I always use this Bible in all of my sermons. Many of my christian friends who are KJV followers told me that NIV was Satan’s translations. But I always defend the NIV against this kind of creticism. But when I purchased a NIV 2011 edition for my children then read it and compared to my NIV 1984 edition I believed now and concluded that it become now a Satan’s version. If they will not anymore published the NIV 1984 edition my decision will be is to use the ESV or NASV bible.
    With all due respect to Dr. Douglas Moo this is only what I can say to NIV 2011: “REJECT THE NIV 2011 AND BRING BACK THE NIV 1984 EDITION.

  63. Hi Trevor,

    I too have been blessed by the Bible Experience over the years. I wanted you to know that I have been blessed to be able to record a “voice only” audio recording of the HCSB. I got to work with Paul Mikos of the Lifeway team and just finished the Old Testament a couple of months ago. We have made it available to listen to without cost at Bible Gateway and soon the Old Testament will join the New on It is available for download at my site now and Paul is soon making it available for downloads at I have enjoyed both the NIV and the NASB (which I have also recorded) but I have to say, one read through the HCSB and I was hooked. I debated sharing this info but I feel that pointing people to Biblegateway and Youversion to enjoy the HSCB is never a bad thing. I sure wish there was a way I could offer the 1984 NIV audio for download at my site. But the same restrictions you speak of in print, Zondervan has also applied to audio. I think a good outlet to get an outstanding recording of the NIV 1984 is from Max McLean at the Listeners Bible. Thanks for your ministry for Christ!

  64. godfearer says:

    I sincerely regret investing as I have in the NIV 1984 version. I am impressed by Biblica’s pursuit of money, as the decision to discontinue NIV 1984 is evidence. It reminds me of the inept decision to introduce “new coke” to the public. That decision alienated their loyal customers. Or, the more recent netflix debacle which had to be reversed. The impact to the customer base was severe. Biblica’s strong arm approach to loyal customers by eliminating a version of the Bible could only be motivated by the desire to strand these loyal customers and herd them toward their “NEW” solution. Apparently the “NEW” version can’t stand on its own because its not better so Biblica had to take these steps. I will not be herded and I will help others toward another solution that won’t again change in a few years.

  65. Sharon Fry says:

    I went to the Bible Gateway to print out 1 Peter, as I am in the process of memorizing it in the 1984 edition… it is no longer there! Do you know how frustrating that is, for someone who wants to commit the Word to memory? I am saddened they are doing this.

  66. Kathy Pegors says:

    I am not happy that Zondervan chose to do this to the bible that I have memorized and now cannot find it anywhere. I am shocked and surprised that there is not a 1984 NIV anywhere. That is all I have to say. I do not like the gender neutral bible as that is not what I grew up with and have had my bible for 37 years. I don’t think that it’s a answer to what people want only for Zondervan to make money for us to buy there bible. Sad.

    1. Rhiannon says:

      Kathy Pegors, you can find a limited selection of NIV 1984 versions on Make sure when you search, you look at the descriptions and make sure it doesn’t say “Revised.” I searched for NIV 1984 and the selection came up, but you have to check that it isn’t a “revised” version of the 1984 NIV. If it doesn’t say Revised, then it’s the actual 1984 version. =) I am in the process of purchasing one now and am not happy about the NIV2011 version, either.

    2. Dean from Ohio says:


      The 1984 NIV text is still available electronically in the Amazon Kindle version of the Architectural Study Bible (Zondervan) here: (see the Kindle button for $24.99). Thankfully, this was published in 2010 before the NIV 2011 became available.

      Besides reading it on a Kindle device, you can download Kindle reader software from Amazon to your phone or computer, so you can read it there too. What’s more, if you are using the older Windows 7 Kindle reader software available here (, there is still a “copy” button, and you can copy small portions from the Kindle window to a text editor (Notepad, Word, etc.) and print it from there. Printing large portions is impractical, but it also would not be fair to the copyright holder (Zondervan under license from Biblica). This older Windows 7 software will run just fine from the Windows 7 desktop within the newer Windows 8 operating system.

      I don’t know what, if anything, Biblica or Zondervan will do when they discover that a handful of people are implementing fair use of 1984 NIV-containing electronic versions that they have purchased by doing this. I hope they realize that we are just gleaning in the corners of their giant mechanized farm field and picking up an electronic sheaf or two that they accidentally left behind.

      Maybe God will also help them remember that many, many people love the 1984 version, and for decades we have been hiding those very words in our hearts that we might not sin against God.

      We need an electronic version with those exact same words available to us as we sit in our house, and walk by the way, and sit down, and rise up, so that we can keep these memorized verses fresh–that we might not sign against God. It’s all well and good for them to say that “there is only one NIV” (meaning the new one),” but overwriting our aging brain neurons that we’ve been painstakingly weaving together for 35 years is not as easy as it is to say.


    3. Dean from Ohio says:

      The 1984 NIV text is still available electronically in the Kindle version of Archaeological Study Bible, published in 2010 by Zondervan. It’s $24.99, and available here: You can download Kindle readers from Amazon or your device’s app store.

  67. Dean from Ohio says:

    Here is a quotation from the preface of the 1984 NIV:

    “In working toward these goals, the translators were united in their commitment to the authority and infallibility of the Bible as God’s Word in written form. They believe that it contains the divine answer to the deepest needs of humanity, that it sheds unique light on our path in a dark world, and that it sets forth the way to our eternal well-being.

    “The first concern of the translators has been the accuracy of the translation and its fidelity to the thought of the Biblical writers….” (

    Here are the corresponding passages in the 2011 NIV preface:

    “The goal of the New International Version (NIV) is to enable English-speaking people from around the world to read and hear God’s eternal Word in their own language. Our work as translators is motivated by our conviction that the Bible is God’s Word in written form. We believe that the Bible contains the divine answer to the deepest needs of humanity, sheds unique light on our path in a dark world and sets forth the way to our eternal well-being. Out of these deep convictions, we have sought to recreate as far as possible the experience of the original audience….”

    “In obedience to its mandate, the committee has issued periodic updates to the NIV. An initial revision was released in 1984. A more thorough revision process was completed in 2005, resulting in the separately published TNIV. The updated NIV you now have in your hands builds on both the original NIV and the TNIV and represents the latest effort of the committee to articulate God’s unchanging Word in the way the original authors might have said it had they been speaking in English to the global English-speaking audience today.

    “The first concern of the translators has continued to be the accuracy of the translation and its faithfulness to the intended meaning of the biblical writers.” (

    Well, there it is. Gone is the commitment to the authority and infallibility of God’s word in written form. That is the true difference between the two, and to me is a necessary and sufficient cause to reject the 2011, as well as the CBT and Biblica who allowed it to happen.

    The desire to hold on to the 2011 translation and ban continued online availability of the 1984 edition seems a work of the flesh in order to support the insupportable and defend the indefensible. I can find older editions of the NASB online, but not the NIV; why is that? Why not let the new translation stand on its own? My thought is that some people’s conscience in the production chain is not clear, and those someones are either trying to rid the earth of all that reminds them of their turn away from the truth, or are placing love of money over love of the truth, or are allowing the publisher to do so. None of these will end well.

    Pray for the repentance of the CBT and for God’s kindness, which leads men to repentance.

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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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