NIV 4.0

And here it is…

The world’s most popular English translation of the Bible in its newest incarnation.

As probably most of you know, The Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) and Biblica have been working on a revision of the 1984 New International Version of the Bible, promising a publication date of 2011–the 400th anniversary of the Authorized Version (King James) of the Bible.  I have been a fan of Today’s New International Version (with some reservations), so I have been curious to see how the committee would meld together the NIV84 and the TNIV into one, new translation that would satisfy fans of both (if that is even possible).  But since the publication date was still some time off, I wasn’t getting too excited.

Imagine my surprise over the weekend when I spotted the announcement that the CBT was set to post its final product online today, November 1, 2010!

And lo and behold, here it is!  The New International Version, 2010.

BibleGateway has a link to a very helpful document: the notes from the translators on the CBT.  In it, the translation team clearly lays out its middle-ground philosophy, in which they explicitly seek the optimal hybrid between form and meaning in translation.  “The NIV [2010] tries to bring its readers as close as possible to the experience of the original audience: providing the best possible blend of transparency to the original documents and comprehension of the original meaning in every verse” (p. 1).

They also give examples of their translation policies, including the thorny issue of language for human beings.  As a first impression, I’m (still) not all that thrilled with using the ubiquitous, but sloppy, “singular they” that made the TNIV painful to read.  I still think it’s proper and sensitive to use the “generic he” when referring to an individual, male or female.*  But, after reading the examples of their revisions, I am generally in agreement with what they did (I especially like the restoration of “flesh” as a translation of the Greek word sarx).

This is the NIV Bible I have on my desk.

When I first visited BibleGateway this morning I felt a tinge of newfound respect for the producers of the NIV.  Part of the previous problem among Biblica, CBT, and Zondervan was an inability to cut ties with the old and stick to the new product (hence, 2 competing translations).  So when I saw that the TNIV and the NIV84 weren’t even available anymore, I thought this was a clear signal that everybody was on board together.  (I was also feeling a little panicky, though, since our church uses the NIV84 and I often use BibleGateway to copy and paste.)  But later today the options include NIV2010, NIV1984, and the TNIV.  In fact, they have a wonderfully helpful tool that shows all three, side by side, so you can see and compare translations easily.

Over the coming weeks I will endeavor to read through a book of the Bible and offer a review/critique of the NIV 4.0, from first impressions to some nit-pickies.

Stay tuned…

* For what it’s worth, I still think the GOD’S WORD translation (from 1995) has the right approach to gender language: “Blessed is the person…he is like a tree…” (Psalm 1:1, 3).  Using the generic he neither flattens out the individualized language into generic plurals (e.g., NRSV, NLT) nor accentuates the maleness of the person (e.g., ESV, NKJV, NASB, etc.) nor uses sloppy English (e.g., TNIV).


4 thoughts on “NIV 4.0

  1. I thought you and your readers might find it useful to know that I’ve just put up some pages that show how similar the NIV2011 is to the NIV1984 and the TNIV. My pages also show each verse where the NIV2011 differs from the NIV1984 or the TNIV in an easily read / clear manner.

    The pages are online @

    I’d appreciate any comments or suggestions if anyone has any. Please either email me or leave a comment on my blog post

    Thank you,

  2. The NET Bible ( handles gender accuracy in the way you suggest “One/he”. The 60,000+ study notes representing the latest in Bible scholarship are perhaps its best feature.

    To me the translation is a bit “rough” but I would say that the TNIV/NIV 2011 tend to operate in light of what the NET scholars have done… they’ve said as much in places!

    Worth looking at. God’s Word is a bit too lose for me but I can see it’s usefulness.

  3. I have used the NET Bible for study online, but never more than that. It is a fine translation in its own right, and the notes are fantastic, giving and behind-the-scenes glimpse into the translators’ thinking.

    The God’s Word translation has some merit, but you’re right that it’s too loose. The worst is how they treat anastasis in the NT: “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the one who brings people back to life, and I am life itself. Those who believe in me will live even if they die. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26) Resurrection is NOT, repeat NOT, people coming back to life. Blech.

  4. The updated HCSB text is strong… though not attempting to be “inclusive”… (but like all modern translations including the ESV, they are much more “inclusive” in many ways.

    Oddly enough I find that scholars have frequently referenced the New Jerusalem Bible. I’ve found it quite an interesting read except for some Britishisms from time to time… I consider it my most literary translation.

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