Review: NIV 2011 or 1984
The New NIV (2011) is now beginning to appear in
stores. A year from now, you won’t be able to get a 1984 version of the
NIV. The 2011 NIV has been on
http://www.biblegateway.com/ for several months. You can’t get the
1984 version there. The 2011 NIV is not without controversy, and for
some good reason.
Right now it is it a little mixed. I stopped by Barnes and Noble
the other day. It is interesting to see two Bible marked NIV and they
don't read the same. Here are some examples.
2 Corinthians 5.17
The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
released a statement last November stating they could not endorse the
2011 NIV. The reason has to do with the new gender-inclusive approach.
Here is an example from one of the first verses I ever memorized. Note
the second phrase in the NIV, beginning with the word, “He.” I have
included a few other translations, just for comparison:
NIV84 | 2 Co 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is
in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
NIV | 2 Co 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is
in Christ, °the new creation °has come: The old has gone, the new °is
ESV | 2 Co 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is
in Christ, he is a new creation°. The old has °passed away; behold,
the new has come°.
NLT | 2 Co 5:17 °This means that anyone
°who belongs to Christ °has become a new °person. The old °life is
gone°; a new life has °begun!
NKJV | 2 Co 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is
in Christ, he is a new creation; °old °things have passed away;
behold, °all things have become new°.
The argument is that when Paul wrote, “He is in
Christ” he didn’t have in mind to say men can be in Christ to the
exclusion of women. I am pretty sure everyone agrees with that. But, I
still question whether it is a good idea to take this much liberty with
the text. On the whole, I prefer the old way. This takes too much
liberty with the text, in my view, plus, if often make for clumsy
Another example of the 2011 gender inclusive
NIV84 | Ps 8:4 what is man that you are
mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
NIV | Ps 8:4 what is °mankind that you
are mindful of °them, °human beings that you care for °them?
ESV | Ps 8:4 what is man that you are
mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
NLT | Ps 8:4 what °are mere mortals that
you °should think about them, °human beings that you should care for
NKJV | Ps 8:4 °What is man that °You
are mindful of him, And the son of man that °You visit him?
The 2011 NIV is not the only Bible to make an attempt to be gender
inclusive. Consider this verse from several translations:
NIV84 | Mk 7:15 Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by
going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him
NIV | Mk 7:15 Nothing outside a °person can °defile them by going
into °them. Rather, it is what comes out of a °person that
ESV | Mk 7:15 °There is nothing outside a °person that by going
into him °can defile him, °but the things that come out of a
°person are what defile him°.”
NLT | Mk 7:15 °It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you;
you are defiled by °what comes °from your heart.” 88.5% difference
NKJV | Mk 7:15 °There is nothing that enters a man from outside
which can °defile him°; but the things which come out of him°,
°those are the things that defile a man°.
Here is a change I do appreciate. The 84NIV used
the term “sinful nature” to describe the Greek word sarx—usually
translated flesh. I never liked the term sinful nature. Nature suggest
to me, “essentially who we are.” We are new creatures in Christ. We have
a flesh that we have to deal with, but we are new creatures in Christ.
The translators fixed this in the 2011 NIV:
NIV84 | Ro 7:5 For when we were
controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law
were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death.
NIV | Ro 7:5 For when we were °in the
realm of the °flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at
work in °us, so that we bore fruit for death.
ESV | Ro 7:5 For °while we were °living
in the °flesh, °our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work
in our °members to bear fruit for death.
NLT | Ro 7:5 °When we were controlled by
°our old nature, °sinful °desires were at work °within us, °and the
law aroused these evil desires that °produced a harvest of sinful
deeds, resulting in death.
NKJV | Ro 7:5 For when we were °in the
°flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work
in our °members to bear fruit °to death.
Here is an example of why the 2.0 version of a
translation can be better than the first in the same way that a 2.0
version of software is better than the 1.0 version. This is what the NAC
Commentary says about this verse: “The NIV translation is highly
unlikely because of what it communicates to many readers. It suggests
evangelism, but that is far removed from any context supposed for this
letter. Paul was not encouraging Philemon to be an evangelist.
Elsewhere, Paul acknowledged the importance of evangelists, but that has
little to do with this epistle.”
The Translators fixed this in this version:
NIV84 | Phm 6 I pray that you may be
active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding
of every good thing we have in Christ.
NIV | Phm 6 I pray that °your
partnership with us in the faith may be °effective in °deepening your
°understanding of every good thing we °share for the sake of Christ.
ESV | Phm 6 and I pray that °the sharing
of your faith °may become effective for the full °knowledge of every
good thing °that is in us for the sake of Christ.
NLT | Phm 6 And I °am praying that you
°will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith °as
you °understand and experience all the good °things we have in Christ.
NKJV | Phm 6 °that °the sharing of your
faith °may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing
°which is in you in Christ Jesus.
Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11
These are the two most problematic sections in the
New Testament in terms of their textual support. My Greek profs in
seminary taught me that had these not been in the King James, they
almost certainly would not be in our Bibles at all. One professor said
most scholars think the John 7.53ff story actually happened, but we don’t
think John had it in his original. I asked why they think it was true.
His response: “It just sounds so good.”
The Mark passage is more problematic. Aside from
suggesting that you have to be baptized to be saved, it also suggests
you will (not might) speak in tongues, handle snakes, etc.:
Mark 16:16-18 (NKJV) He who believes and is
baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
And these signs will follow
those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak
with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything
deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick,
and they will recover."
The New American Commentary says: “It is virtually
certain that Mark wrote nothing after v. 8, i.e., he did not write the
long ending (vv. 9–20) or the short ending.”
So, how should translators deal with this? The 2011 NIV
separates it out in brackets and puts it in italics—clearly indicating
the textual problem. I think this is a good call.
1 Timothy 2.12
I found this helpful discussion this passage here:
Second, the NIV 2011 includes translations that
promote egalitarian positions, even though the biblical text does not
warrant such readings. This
is found in the translation of 1 Tim 2:12, which reads, “I do not permit
a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”
In contrast, the NIV 1984 reads, “I do not permit a woman to
teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.”
To “have authority” and to “assume authority” carry very
different connotations. The
former presumes the possession or the exercising of authority, whereas
the latter could be interpreted to mean that Paul merely opposes women
taking on positions of authority by their own power or volition.
Thus, it could be argued from the NIV 2011 translation that women
could teach or have authority over men as long as the authority was
given to them, and not merely assumed by the woman herself.
However, this translation is contrary to Greek text, which is
most naturally translated “have authority” or “exercise authority.”
Even the egalitarian/gender neutral NRSV translates this verse
with “have authority,” which they would unlikely have done if “assume
authority” was a valid rendering of the Greek text.
The CBT makes their agenda known in their translation notes in
response to 1 Tim 2:12: “The exercise of authority that Paul was
forbidding was one that women inappropriately assumed, but whether that
referred to all forms of authority over men in church or only certain
forms in certain contexts is up to the individual interpreter to
NIV84 | 1 Ti 2:12 I do not permit a woman
to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.
NIV | 1 Ti 2:12 I do not permit a woman
to teach or to °assume authority over a man; she must be °quiet.
ESV | 1 Ti 2:12 I do not permit a woman
to teach or to °exercise authority over a man; rather, she °is to
NLT | 1 Ti 2:12 I do not °let women
teach men or °have authority over °them. Let them listen quietly.
NKJV | 1 Ti 2:12 And I do not permit a
woman to teach or to have authority over a man°, but to be °in
I found a good discussion of this verse here:
As with many other languages (including Greek),
Hebrew masculine plural verbs can have subjects that are exclusively
male, or they may be male and female; typically, only context can tell.
However, when a feminine plural is used, women are exclusively in view.
Sadly, the feminine plural participle mebasarot (“to proclaim good
news”) in Psalm 68:11 has often been translated in a way that obscures
the gender of the ones proclaiming:
NIV84 | Ps 68:11 The Lord announced the
word, and great was the company of those who proclaimed it:
NIV | Ps 68:11 The Lord °announces the
word, and °the °women who °proclaim it are a mighty throng:
ESV | Ps 68:11 The Lord °gives the
word°; the °women who °announce the news are a great host:
NLT | Ps 68:11 The Lord °gives the word,
and a great °army brings the °good news.
NKJV | Ps 68:11 The Lord °gave the
word°; Great was the company of those who proclaimed it:
It is sometimes a tricky business to translate the
Bible rather than interpret it. We have to translate the words and let
the words say what the words say whether or not it agrees with our
theology. I believe the 2011NIV translators got it right here. Note the
word servant vss. deacon.
NIV84 | Ro 16:1 I commend to you our
sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea.
NIV | Ro 16:1 I commend to you our sister
Phoebe, a °deacon, of the church in °Cenchreae.
ESV | Ro 16:1 I commend to you our sister
Phoebe, a servant of the church °at Cenchreae,
NLT | Ro 16:1 I commend to you our sister
Phoebe, who is a °deacon in the church in Cenchrea.
NKJV | Ro 16:1 I commend to you Phoebe
our sister°, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea°,
To be fair, just because the word diakonos sounds
like the word deacon doesn’t mean that it should be translated deacon in
every case. Here is a breakdown of how the ESV translates this word:
1 Timothy 3.11
Again, translators should not over-translate or let
their theology affect the translation. If it is not clear what is meant
in the Greek, leave it unclear in the translation. One commentator
writes about this passage:
This sentence (v. 11) has proven to be a real
puzzle for those studying 1 Timothy. Who are the “women” (γυναῖκας,
gynaikas) of this verse? Are they “wives” as the NIV has suggested in
the text? Or should one favor the margin reading of the NIV
“deaconesses”? The Greek word “woman” (γυνή, gynē) can be rendered
either “woman” or “wife” depending upon the context. — College Press NIV
Commentary – 1, 2 Timothy & Titus.
NIV84 | 1 Ti 3:11 In the same way, their
wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but
temperate and trustworthy in everything.
NIV | 1 Ti 3:11 In the same way, °the
women are to be °worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate
and trustworthy in everything.
ESV | 1 Ti 3:11 °Their wives °likewise
must be °dignified, not °slanderers, but °sober-minded, faithful in
NLT | 1 Ti 3:11 In the same way, their
wives °must be °respected and must not °slander others. They must
exercise self-control and °be faithful in everything they do.
NKJV | 1 Ti 3:11 °Likewise, their wives
°must be °reverent, not °slanderers, temperate°, faithful in °all
The 2011NIV got it right in this case.
Alien used to mean, “someone from another country.”
Now it means, “someone from another planet.”
The 2011 NIV rightly makes this change:
NIV84 | Ge 23:4 “I am an alien and a
stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I
can bury my dead.”
NIV | Ge 23:4 “I am °a foreigner and
°stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I
can bury my dead.”
ESV | Ge 23:4 “I am °a sojourner and
°foreigner among you°; give me °property among you for a °burying
place, that I °may bury my dead out of my sight.”
NLT | Ge 23:4 “Here I am°, a stranger
and a °foreigner among you. °Please sell me °a °piece of land so I
can °give my °wife a proper burial.”
NKJV | Ge 23:4 “I am °a foreigner and a
°visitor among you. °Give me °property for a burial °place among
you, that I °may bury my dead out of my sight.”
For more on the NIV translator’s notes, see
On the whole, I think the 2011 translators did a
good job, although I am not really a fan of the gender-inclusive
approach. If the Greek says “he” I prefer to see he.