What is the NIV version of the Bible?

The New International Version (NIV) is a brand-new Bible translation prepared by more than a hundred specialists by using best Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts available. Sarcasm can hurt but Biblical scripture can help! 

One Man’s Vision for the New International Version

Howard Long, a GE engineer in Seattle, developed the project’s first vision. Long had been a lifelong supporter of the King James Version, but when he tried to share it with his friends, he was disappointed to find that it didn’t work. Long saw the necessity for a translation that encapsulated the truths he cherished in the language of his time.

Long and a significant number of like-minded followers pushed this notion for ten years. One man’s enthusiasm became the passion of a church, and eventually the passion of an entire denomination. After years of planning, a trans-denominational and international group of scholars convened in Palos Heights, Illinois, in 1965 to begin work on the project, choosing not to simply make adjustments to the current English version of the Bible, but to start anew with the best possible manuscripts in the original languages. A substantial number of church leaders meeting in Chicago in 1966 backed their findings.

An Extensive Translation Process

Translators

The Committee on Bible Translation (CBT), a self-governing body of fifteen biblical scholars, was formed and charged with responsibility for the version, and the New York Bible Society (which later became the International Bible Society and then Biblica) generously undertook financial sponsorship of the project in 1968. Each book was allocated to a translation team, which consisted of two lead translators, two translation consultants, and, if necessary, a stylistic consultant. Intermediate editorial panels of five biblical academics evaluated and edited the first translations generated by these teams, checking them against the source texts and assessing their comprehensibility. Each modified document was then sent to an eight to twelve-member general committee before being released to outside critics and all CBT members in preparation for a final assessment. Pastors, students, researchers, and lay people from across the intended audience tested samples of the translation for clarity and simplicity of reading. Perhaps no other translation has gone through a more comprehensive review and revision procedure.

The NIV was created with the goal of bringing current Bible readers as close as possible to the experience of the first Bible readers: delivering the finest possible balance of transparency to the original texts and understanding of the original meaning in every verse. The realization that the process of translating the NIV would never be completely accomplished arrived with this clarity of concentration. To be loyal to its original goal, the NIV would need to alter when new discoveries about the biblical world and its languages were made, and as English usage norms evolved and changed over time.

As a result, not only was provision established in the original NIV charter for periodic text revisions, but also for a process for constant monitoring of developments in biblical scholarship and English usage. The NIV’s ability to accurately and honestly reflect God’s unchanging Word in current English was to be reviewed, maintained, and strengthened every year by the CBT.

The most recent result of this procedure is the 2011 update to the NIV. The Committee on Bible Translation has updated the text to ensure that the New International Version of the Bible remains faithful to Howard Long’s original inspiration by collaborating with church leaders and Bible experts, engaging with the most recent discoveries regarding scriptural languages and the ancient world, and employing cutting-edge English usage research.

Comfort Print (NIV)

For the New International Version, Klaus and his team were tasked with creating a new unique typeface. The final typefaces of the NIV Comfort Print font would not only give the NIV a new style, but they would also improve readability and prevent eyestrain while conserving space on each page (and, in turn, in your backpacks and on your bookshelves).

We wanted to create a typeface that was representative of the NIV. “One that is cutting-edge in typeface design, open, welcoming, and approachable while simultaneously being authoritative and global,” Klaus remarked.

Klaus drew inspiration from the translation’s history: Howard Long’s goal to capture the Word of God in modern English, and his surprise when it sold one million copies before the Bibles were even printed. The NIV has been a popular Bible since its inception, with hundreds of millions of readers around the world aiming to understand Biblical truths and trying to get a glimpse of the destinations in Israel mentioned in the Scriptures. 

Pros and Cons of the New International Version

The New International Version’s readability is probably its best asset. The NIV is written in a fluid, easy-to-read English manner that allows readers to quickly obtain insight into biblical perspectives on existing concerns like contentment.  The NIV though has the flaw of occasionally delving into interpretation rather than literal translation. Some passages in the NIV are translated as “this is what the translator thinks the text means” rather than “this is what the text says.” While the NIV has a valid “interpretation” in many cases, this misses the point. A Bible translation should take what the Bible says in the original languages and say it in the new language, leaving the reader’s interpretation to the Holy Spirit. The addition of gender-neutral language and the necessity of interpreting rather than translating to provide a more culturally sensitive or politically correct version is, of course, the major ‘negative’ NIV.

Many amendments reflecting advances in biblical research were already ready to go because the CBT had continued its work during the years of debate. However, because the issue was divisive, the CBT committed to examining every gender change implemented since the 1978 version. The CBT commissioned Collins Dictionaries to analyze the Collins Bank of English, a database of more than 4.4 billion words culled from recordings and publications throughout the English-speaking globe, to acquire an unbiased assessment of how current English referred to both men and women inclusively.

The New International Version originated as a vision for an accurate interpretation of the Bible in modern English, and it is today the world’s greatest Modern-English Bible translation, providing the best combination of accuracy and readability.