The attempts to revise the NIV have created a huge firestorm in some conservative circles. The primary reason has never been about whether or not the NIV (1978) was due for a major revision. One of the main reasons the task of Bible translation is never finished is the changes that take place in our own language. We speak and write differently and words, how they are actually used, are quite fluid. Everyone who understands language and translation knows this, which is why only a person who does not understand these simple facts resists Bible revisions. I can think of only two reasons to oppose revisions: they create a fluid English text and this can easily discourage Bible memorization and common use within churches. But regardless of these reasons a faithful commitment to the text itself requires new translation.
Some time ago I expressed my unhappiness about the TNIV being taken out of circulation because the translation committee decided to do an entirely new revision of the NIV and then remove the older copies of both the NIV and TNIV from sales. I still believe this whole issue of translation is driven by mixed motives. One is noble and right – getting the text right in modern English. The others is to issue new versions that make profits for publishers who publish these translations and make profit on their sale. Having said this I am, nonetheless, prepared to say the new NIV is far better than I had imagined. It is a well-d0ne project and the end result will very likely give the church a new translation that will effectively serve a new generation for at least another thirty years or so. I hope this is the case.
Over the last year I have read the entire NRSV. I have read whole sections of the NLT. I am now reading the NIV (2011). At this point I like the NLT a great deal and may prefer the NIV at the end of this process. I am quite willing to say I spoke in criticism of this translation because the politics of it all frustrated me a great deal. The attacks on the TNIV were way too politically motivated and narrow for my tastes. The decision to scrap it disappointed me. But maybe the end result will be a better version used by a wider audience. I hope this is the case. I am always willing to stand corrected when I am given good reason to change my mind. In this case I have changed my mind.
This new revision was done under the oversight of Biblica. Biblica is the fruit of a merger between the International Bible Society and Send the Light, created in 2007. The vision of Biblica is to facilitate the transformation of lives around the world through the provision of Bibles and biblical resources.
For 200 years the International Bible Society (IBS) shared God’s Word around the world. Through two centuries of ministry, IBS provided Scriptures to soldiers on battlefields, inmates in prisons, immigrants, the poor, and anyone who needed the hope of the Bible. For 50 years Send the Light (STL) took Christian literature to the farthest reaches of the world, so that people everywhere could encounter Jesus Christ through the gospel message. In 2007 IBS and STL merged to take the Bible and biblical resources to new places, in more languages, in ways never before envisioned. IBS-STL now moves into a third century of ministry as Biblica. But this is much more than a simple name change. Biblica is driven to reach those who have never experienced the transformational power of God’s Word in ways that uniquely meet their personal needs.
On their web site Biblica says that it works to accomplish four missional objectives:
- Evangelism – We want to reach the lost with God’s Word in formats that capture their hearts and minds.
- Education – We want to help educate church leaders worldwide in the effective use of Scripture to reach and change their communities.
- Equipping – We equip the Body of Christ with the Scripture resources and biblical content to use in reaching out in their local context.
- Engagement – We develop resources that engage people in a deeper experience with God’s Word and therefore, the God of the Bible. Our goal is continually draw people into deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.
I share these goals and applaud the work done to give us the newly revised NIV. And I hope the critics will be ignored and we can now move on to reading and praying over God’s Word without the battles about the last decade. This would be a refreshing answer to my own prayer during this entire contentious process.