NIV to be revised

According to a news release Wednesday on SRN News the NIV Bible will be revised.

Once again, they are wanting to change some words to be more gender inclusive and contemporary. They have tried this in the past and faced stiff resistance. The last revision of this sort (in the mid 1980’s) became the Today’s New International Version which will cease to be published after this revision. In essence, they will merge the TNIV and the NIV along with other new changes.

For me I see this type of revision as unnecessary and political correctness. I’m not saying the KJV is perfect. Just that it has much older language by almost 400 years, yet is still widely used. Does the Bible really need to be updated every 30 years or so? It does if you’re subtly changing the message to match the audience as each generation has different wants and special interests to be catered to in an effort to be culturally relevant.

I don’t have a problem with male dominance in language. English is one of the few languages that has gender neutral verbs. It is just groups of people which are usually male generic. Man is part of woman (woMAN). Man is likewise part of human. It is interesting that the gender issues resulting in the NIV came about during the radical feminism of the 1960’s. Also, God did put husbands in charge of wives (Genesis 3:16). To quote the news story example of changes between the NIV and TNIV, (keep in mind that man was created first, before woman)

It was the TNIV that ushered in changes from “sons of God” to “children of God,” or “brothers” to “brothers and sisters.” In Genesis I, God created “human beings” in his own image instead of “man.”

Also, during the time when the Bible was written, the society was male dominated; as such, much of it was addressed to the men. It was to be told to the women by the men.

1 Timothy 2: 11-12 (kjv): Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

1 Corinthians 14:35 (kjv): And if they [women] will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

This doesn’t even take into account the numerous non-gender related changes already between the original NIV in 1978 and KJV. The same committee who created the NIV will oversee the changes and revisions. Again, from the news story, the committee will “actively promote what they describe as a long-held practice of inviting input from scholars and readers.” I don’t mind scholars who are experts in the ancient texts and languages, but mere readers? How do you keep special interests (liberals, feminists, etc) from overly influencing if asking readers opinions? How are future readers to know what was changed and why to insure against bias?

The NIV wording changes subtly alter the meaning of the verses. 2 clear examples of this come to my mind. One example is they changed the Lord’s Prayer. They have removed part of verse 13 of Matthew 6 to a footnote. They also changed the ending of the same verse.

Here’s Matthew 6:9-15 in NIV:

9“This, then, is how you should pray:
” ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
11Give us today our daily bread.
12Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.[a]

  1. Matthew 6:13 Or from evil; some late manuscripts one, / for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Here is the KJV of the same passages

9After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

11Give us this day our daily bread.

12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Very similar in many ways but there is a subtle yet important difference. The NIV says deliver from the evil one, presumably the devil. It is a prayer for salvation only. KJV simply says deliver from evil. This means all evil; evil thoughts, intentions, actions, the devil. It is a prayer for righteousness as well as salvation.

There are other places in the NIV that references to righteousness have been changed or eliminated. My second example of word choice influencing interpretation is they changed the word works to deeds, thus allowing the argument for faith alone without works since works isn’t mentioned, even though deeds and works are synonyms in this case. The relationship of faith without works (deeds) is mentioned 3 times in James 2 verses 18,20, and 26. No, we don’t gain our salvation by works, but show it through works. They are the fruit of our salvation. You can not have one without the other, as clearly stated in James 2 (kjv).

18: Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

20: But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

26: For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

I’m curious how many and what type of changes this new version will have. Hopefully they will reconsider some of their original revisions, but I doubt it. They seem to want to continue in a liberal interpretation. I see this as changing God’s word to fit what some want it to say. They are changing the Word of God to fit the audience rather than the other way around. It is much easier to change words than hearts and opinions. The new NIV is scheduled to be released in 2011.