DAVID'S REVIEW OF THE NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, 2011 UPDATE|
A LINK TO ALL MY RESOURCES FOR THE 1984/2011 NIV
The 2011 updated NIV has been accused of being a controversial and liberal Bible translation. The new NIV maintains almost 92 percent of the very controversial 2005 Today's New International Version (TNIV). The TNIV failed because of the popularity of the 1984 NIV, so guess how Biblica would make sure the 2011 New TNIV would sell? That's right, they got rid of the 1984 NIV in bookstores and the Internet.
My chief concern is NOT the 2011 NIV being politically correct, but the very need to correct the Bible!
The main criticism is about gender-inclusive language, eliminating use of male gender language in references that clearly refer to men and women. The Biblical languages had a word for gender neutral personal pronoun singular, unlike English. Some schools teach the singular "him" can be replaced by the "singular they," like the 2011 NIV, especially when the singular "him" is said that can be referred to both men and women. Using the male pronoun sounds weird in sentences like "I will eat with him and him with me," when women are part of the "him." But using "they" in such verses can be confusing to the reader, like when is "they" singular and when is "they" plural? But the 2011 NIV is the most conservative "gender accurate" translation other than the new Christian Standard Bible and is not "gender neutral" like the New Revised Standard Version.
Even the KJV uses such gender-inclusive language when it translates "sons of God" as "children of God." When the 2011 NIV replaces "brothers" with "brothers and sisters," how do they know when it only applies to a group of just men, and not both men and women?
However, many gender-inclusive Bibles translate a word that is male-specific in the original languages and changes it to a gender-neutral word. I strongly oppose this. There is a difference between gender-accurate language and gender-neutral language (which is stripping the Bible generic references of male entirely, regardless of its purpose in the original languages). The 2011 NIV rarely make changes in such fashion. However, changing "women" to "weaklings" in Nahum 3:13 and calling Phoebe a "deacon" in Romans 16:1 are political correctness at work.
Another problem with these Bibles is the singular pronouns being replaced with plurals. I don't mind this practice when it tried to make it obvious that it is referring to a singular individual, but this can confuse the reader. It is awkward to say, for example, "If anyone prays, they will be blessed."
The gender-inclusive language is much more conservative than the New Revised Standard Version or the New Living Translation. An example is the term "adoption to sonship," which refers to the Roman practice of adopting a boy for the purpose of giving him full legal standing of an heir. The NRSV and NLT say "adopted as children", while conservative non gender-inclusive versions say "adoption as sons." The new NIV is far more accurate in its rendering.
In most cases, the 2011 NIV only makes changes where the original permits. But the singular "they" is not taught in most places and one day hopefully the English language will have a pronoun that means "a man or a woman" singular.
A welcome change is the replacement of "sinful nature" with "the flesh." This is a literal rendering of the Greek word "sarx," and makes the NIV less Calvinistic.
In Ephesians 5:19, the traditional "songs, hymns and spiritual songs" is replaced with "songs, hymns, and songs of the Spirit," referring to songs that are the product of a miraculous spiritual gift to members of the Ephesian church.
In 1 Corinthians 13:10, the 2011 NIV correctly uses "when completion comes" (the completion of the written New Testament), instead of the 1984 NIV "when perfection comes," referring to the second coming of Christ. That verse is talking the partial (the spiritual gifts) being replaced with the complete.
I believe the 2011 NIV is correct in capitalizing the word "Spirit" in John 4:24.
The rendering "did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage" in Philippians 2:6 is far less confusing thsn other translations "did not consider it robbery to be equal with God" or "did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped."
Some believe the NIV's rendering of Psalms 51:5 is teaching that a person is born in sin. This verse is neither saying that King David was born in sin or that his mother was in sin when conceiving him (as in the King James Version). The verse is not to be taken literally. The psalmist is using a figure of speech called hyperbole, a type of exaggeration. Jesus used hyperbole when He said that if our hand causes us to sin, to cut it off. King David wrote this psalm after committing adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah. He uses hyperbole in verse five to reflect his current utter state of sinfulness.
Some believe the NIV's rendering of Romans 1:17 is teaching the false doctrine of "passive faith alone." Salvation is truly "faith from beginning to end" in that we are to be "faithful until death" (Revelation 2:10), "we walk by faith, not by sight," (2 Corinthians 5:7), and that without faith, we cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6). The NIV teaches in many verses about active faith expressing itself in loving deeds (Galatians 5:6, Romans 1:5, 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 2 Thessalonians 1:11)
Some believe that the NIV is teaching "passive faith alone" salvation in Romans 10:10. That is not the point of the passage! Verse 9 drives the point home that one is saved by using their heart and their mouth.
Some believe the NIV says in Ephesians 1:13 is teaching that we are saved at the point of hearing the Gospel. One has to understand the theme of the book to understand this verse. The theme is God revealing through the Good News that Gentiles are included in God's grand scheme. The NIV nails it. After addressing the Jews (see verse 12), Paul is now addressing the Gentiles and tells them that they will hear the Good News that the Gentiles are now included, and once they believe (obey and become Christians), they are sealed with the Holy Spirit.
Some believe that the 2011 NIV differs from the 1984 NIV in Romans 16:7 and 1 Corinthians 14:33-34 in such a way some say promotes feminism. The New American Standard Bible translates 1 Corinthians 14:33-34 in the very same way, yet nobody accuses it of promoting feminism.
The thing I enjoy about the 2011 NIV the most is what the 1984 NIV was famous for: its readability without losing much of its form and structure, though it is a little more confusing with the gender-inclusive language. The beauty of the Bible does not rest in "thee"s, "thou"s. "-est"s or "-eth"s, but the fact that the Bible is our Creator's direct and loving message to us. Translating the Bible into 21st century English does not diminish God's Word at all. To hear the God's message with the same understanding, clarity and freshness as the original audience heard it is what makes the NIV special.
There are many more examples of improvement in the 2011 NIV in the translators' notes, along with the policy and guidelines of the use of gender-inclusive language. And there are two websites that tracked every change in the 2011 NIV and how it differs from the 1984 NIV and the 2005 Today's New International Version.
As always, enjoy my site and feel free to e-mail me at david1970(at)charter.net