Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Would You Like NIV, or NIV Classic?

I've spent a few months with the online / Kindle Edition of the NIV ©2011. This is the updated NIV which the translators have chosen to simply call, NIV. This is a break from their previous TNIV, which distinguished itself from the NIV 1984 (the one we've been reading for over 25 years).

I have read what I consider improvements on the way the update translates many passages in regard to changes in the English language over the past 25 years, as well as discoveries about Greek usage from 2000 years ago. For the most part, I still enjoy the flow of reading the NIV 2011 silently or aloud, as well as studying the truth of God's Word, and applying it to my life. Just to be clear the NIV 2011 is, in my opinion, just as much God's Word as KJV, ESV, etc.

I do have some problems with the update. I understand that these are probably based on personal preference, but I wonder if anyone else who has used the NIV for several years would share my concern. Allow me to vent for a moment.

I'm still not sure about the extent to which the updated NIV goes gender neutral. Surprisingly, my mom said she likes the idea of making it more readable to women, since the Gospel is meant for both men and women, and in Christ there is neither male nor female! She's less stuck in her ways than her son, who's almost half her age! But what bothers me is the mix between singular and plural to make many such passages gender neutral.

For example look at Revelation 3:20
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

To me, "they," sounds grammatically incorrect, and less personal, less individual than "he." The updated NIV book of John is full of gender neutrals that also seem to render the text less focused on the individual than the older NIV.

My other, more personal problem with the updated NIV is the fact that after 25 years I have dozens, if not hundreds of verses and even several chapters memorized. The update is just different enough to confuse and irritate if I tried to re-memorize all those passages! Going to another version altogether would be a pain for the same reason. If possible, I'd like the church I pastor to have an official version for continuity. Yes, we utilize several versions as we study, but the Word commands the public reading of the Scripture - it should be at least the same version for that. Come to think of it, the New Testament church was reading from the Septuagint, which seems to me a translation that follows a less-than-literal philosophy, much like the NIV.

Ultimately, I may embrace the update, but I would rather the NIV people retain both versions. I believe the 1984 and 2011 versions are that different. They say they're going to only offer one, the 2011 NIV, until they revise it. But maybe they will change their plans if enough people clamor for the 1984 edition. They could offer NIV and NIV Classic! But you remember how well that worked for Coca-Cola...

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