A Few Thoughts on the 2011 NIV

Periodically, I get bored with whatever translation of the Bible I’m using at a given time and look around to see what else is out there. One of the great things about living in this current era is that there are a lot of good Bible translations around, all saying much the same thing in different ways.

This time around, I was prompted to investigate Today’s New International Version (TNIV) after reading a glowing recommendation of it in How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth. (Admittedly, one or both of the authors were part of the TNIV translation committee but still . . .) Well, the bad new is that the TNIV was discontinued a year or so ago because of lagging sales. Why were sales lagging? A number of prominent evangelicals had condemned it for espousing gender inclusive language. It doesn’t matter to me personally if a Bible author originally wrote “brothers” but meant “brothers and sisters.” I’m more concerned with what the original authors meant than with the specific words they said but moving away from masculine pronouns was apparently a big sticking point.

I found that Amazon still stocked hardback TNIVs but no sooner had I received it than I found that the pages had been bound out of order. I suspect this copy was a factory second that the publisher was trying to get out of its warehouse. What to do? As it turns out, almost all of the changes in the TNIV were folded into the 2011 revision of the New International Version (NIV). It isn’t as gender inclusive as the TNIV but so long as I can discern the original intent, it’s all good to me.

So for about a week now, I’ve been making myself at home with the NIV 2011. I really enjoy the increased clarity as compared to the prior revision, which was from 1984. For example, almost all of the changes listed here found their way into the new NIV. Also, the NIV now differentiates between “Jews” and “Jewish leaders” in the Gospels. This is a plus for me because it took me the longest time to figure out that the crowds of Jews following Jesus weren’t the same ones who were plotting to kill him. Maybe others aren’t as slow as I am but it would have been nice to have had this pointed out earlier.

The new NIV also presents verses in such a way as to make them more understandable in context. For example, in Phillipians 4:13, the older NIV reads “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” The new version is “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” In the preceding verses in chapter four, Paul is saying that he is content with plenty or with nothing. Verse 13 says that God is the power that enables him to have this contentment. The new NIV makes it less likely that Phil. 4:13 will be used as a generic Christian empowerment slogan which isn’t true in all situations.

Somehow, I thought that the NIV 2011 used weights, measurements, etc. that had been converted into their English equivalents. Alas, such is not the case but the modern equivalents are listed in footnotes. A former pastor of mine who I respect greatly uses the New Living Translation (NLT) quite a bit and it does have the English equivalents listed in the text. Now that would just be handy. Hmm.

A good NLT may be my next Bible purchase but I’m quite happy with the new NIV for now. It is very readable, using modern English while preserving the meaning of the text, no mean feat of itself. Essentially, none of the changes made in the 2011 NIV change the meaning of the Scripture, they only clarify it. And finding out more about the will of God is definitely a good thing.

1 thought on “A Few Thoughts on the 2011 NIV

  1. I am glad that you are interested in the new translations. The Bible is up-to-date and speaks to us today. It is neat that you’ve found more than one translation that you really connect with. The Bible is our road map and a tried and true guide, written for our benefit. It is also our encourager and points us to Jesus, no matter the translation.

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