Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New NIV Revision Announced

Yay, another revision of an English Bible translation! Just what we need. [Note the sarcasm - we have more than an adequate supply of English Bibles in contemporary language reflecting the latest research in biblical studies and translation theory.] This time they're revising the greatest English version ever - the New International Version (NIV)! [Again, sarcasm. NIV is not in my top 3.]
On Tuesday, September 1, 2009 Biblica anounced the first update in a quarter century of the world’s most popular version of the Bible. 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. [Press release here.]
Biblica is the new name for the International Bible Society, the organization responsible for the NIV. Note the wording of their announcement - "the first update in a quarter century." Apparently, they no longer consider the controversial TNIV to be an update of the NIV.

There is an article in Christianity Today discussing the announcement. The title is telling "Correcting the 'Mistakes' of TNIV and Inclusive NIV, Translators Will Revise NIV in 2011." The title is a little misleading, though, since the article quotes Doug Moo as saying they're not sure exactly how they're going to handle the gender-inclusive language issue. It seems clear that they realize they went too far before, but they're not sure how far to go now. Maybe they should compare notes with the NLT and NRSV for some pointers.
Doug Moo, chairman of the the Committee on Bible Translation (which is the body responsible for the translation) said the committee has not yet decided how much the 2011 edition will include the gender-inclusive language that roiled critics of the TNIV.

"We felt certainly at the time it was the right thing to do, that the language was moving in that direction," Moo said. "All that is back on the table. This has been a time of transition in the in the way the English language has handled gender, and it is in flux and in process as things are changing quickly."

It also appears that they will discontinue publishing both the 1984 NIV and the 2005 TNIV once the new revision is published in 2011. So if you're in the market for a new Bible, a lot of old NIV and TNIV copies might be going on clearance. Or maybe you'll just want to buy a different version.

HT: Brian LePort for the CT link.


  1. Um, I thought Biblica was a biblical studies journal?

  2. Apparently, they no longer consider the controversial TNIV to be an update of the NIV.


  3. Chris, they must not have thought of that before they changed the name.

    TC, I assume you mean that their disowning the TNIV is shameful and not what I said about it.

    I think it's just a marketing ploy. The TNIV didn't catch on, so let's forget it ever existed and tell people we're updating their beloved NIV. They must be feeling behind the times with the rising popularity of ESV and NLTse. Gotta maintain market share and all that.

    Is it just me or is Zondervan (as a subsidiary of HarperCollins) probably a little more overtly profit-driven then say Tyndale or Crossway?

  4. It seems to me there are 2 issues: people like new things (like new translations) and Bible publishers like sales (that's how they make money. The only reason that the TNIV never became popular is all the undeserved negative press it got, mainly from people who aren't translators. Once everyone jumps on the band wagon and it becomes an easy target, many people are afraid of being caught on the "wrong" side and incuring the wrath of the attackers themselves. Anyway, that's the way it appears to me.

  5. Thanks for your comment, John. I think you're right that those are the two main factors driving what's going on.

    Of course, I'm not a fan of the TNIV but I study translation theory and biblical languages. So, the issues with the translation weren't just coming from people who weren't translators. I haven't been a vocal critic, however, and I agree that many who were most harsh in their attacks didn't really understand the issues.