What is the New International Version (NIV)?
The New International Version (NIV) is an English translation of the Christian Bible. Biblica is the worldwide publisher and copyright holder of the NIV, and licenses commercial rights to Zondervan in the United States and to Hodder & Stoughton in the UK. The NIV has become one of the most popular modern translations in history. Originally published in the 1970s, the NIV was most recently updated in 2011.
The New International Version (NIV) project was started after a meeting in 1965 at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois, of the Christian Reformed Church, National Association of Evangelicals, and a group of international scholars. The New York Bible Society (now Biblica) was selected to do the translation. The New Testament was released in 1973 and the full Bible in 1978. It underwent a minor revision in 1984. A planned 1997 edition was discontinued over inclusive language.
A revised edition titled Today's New International Version (TNIV) released a New Testament in March 2002, with the complete Bible published February 2005. In 2011, an updated version was released. The update incorporated some of the gender language of the TNIV, along with other changes. Translational issues with Paul's letters were also addressed. Keith Danby, president and chief executive officer of Biblica, said they erred in presenting past updates, failed to convince people revisions were needed, and underestimated reader loyalty to the 1984 NIV.
The manuscript base for the Old Testament was the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia Masoretic Hebrew Text. Other ancient texts consulted were the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion, the Latin Vulgate, the Syriac Peshitta, the Aramaic Targum, and for the Psalms the Juxta Hebraica of Jerome. The manuscript base for the New Testament was the Koine Greek language editions of the United Bible Societies and of Nestle-Aland. The deuterocanonical books are not included in the translation.
The core translation group consisted of fifteen Biblical scholars. The translation took ten years and involved a team of up to one hundred scholars from the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. The range of those participating included many different denominations such as Anglicans, Assemblies of God, Baptist, Christian Reformed, Lutheran and Presbyterian.
The translation is a balance between word-for-word and thought-for-thought. Recent archaeological and linguistic discoveries helped in understanding passages that have traditionally been difficult to translate. Familiar spellings of traditional translations were generally retained.
According to the Christian Business Association, the New International Version has become the most popular selling English translation of the Bible, having sold more than 450 million copies worldwide. There are numerous study Bibles available with extensive notes on the text and background information to make the Biblical stories more comprehensible. Among these are the NIV Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible, the Zondervan published NIV Study Bible, the Wesleyan revision, Reflecting God Study Bible, as well as the Life Application Study Bible.
Biblical scholar Bruce M. Metzger criticized the addition of just into Jeremiah 7:22, so the verse becomes "For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices." Metzger also criticized the addition of your into Matthew 13:32, so it becomes "Though it [the mustard seed] is the smallest of all your seeds", avoiding any impression of Jesus's speaking a botanical untruth. The usage of your in this verse has been removed in the 2011 NIV revision.
N. T. Wright has written of previous NIV editions: When the New International Version was published in 1980, I was one of those who hailed it with delight. I believed its own claim about itself, that it was determined to translate exactly what was there, and inject no extra paraphrasing or interpretative glosses.... Disillusionment set in over the next two years, as I lectured verse by verse through several of Paul's letters, not least Galatians and Romans. Again and again, with the Greek text in front of me and the NIV beside it, I discovered that the translators had another principle, considerably higher than the stated one: to make sure that Paul should say what the broadly Protestant and evangelical tradition said he said.... [I]f a church only, or mainly, relies on the NIV it will, quite simply, never understand what Paul was talking about.
Professor of New Testament Studies Daniel B. Wallace has praised the 2011 update, "it is a well-thought out translation, with checks and balances through rigorous testing, overlapping committees to ensure consistency and accuracy". However the Southern Baptist Convention rejected the 2011 update because of gender-related issues. Southern Baptist publisher LifeWay declined the SBC censor to remove the NIV from their stores. The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod also cautioned against its use.
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