Biblica, the newly renamed owner of the NIV and TNIV, announced today that it would update the New International Version of the Bible.
It appears that Biblica and its publisher Zondervan realized they goofed when they focused their resources in the TNIV rather than the NIV. As the best-selling Bible version today, the latter will now get their undivided attention, while the TNIV gets thrown under the bus.
The NIV was revised in 1978 and 1984. In 2005 they tried again. And met disaster.
Obama should learn from the TNIV experience. The people responsible goofed badly when they thought they could ram through gender-free language and make everybody like it. It didn’t happen. The TNIV was going to be the new NIV. With an uproar from the evangelical community and others interested in proper translation, they backed off and called the gender-tweaked edition the TNIV.
The question now is, what direction will Biblica and Zondervan take the NIV? There are some serious issues with it that need to be taken into account.
My first suggestion: restore the 1978 rendering of Acts 2:38: “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'”
It would seem that the purpose of immersion was a bit too clear, so they fell back to the phrase, “for the forgiveness of sins.” The 1978 rendering didn’t leave room for the faith-only crowd to split hairs.
When the entire NIV Bible was released in 1978, my sister worked in a bookstore back home, and I was in college at Freed-Hardeman. She sent me a copy, and it turned out I was apparently the first one on campus to have it. Fellow students streamed into my dorm room to take a peek. I typed in the verse above from that edition, now in pieces from long use.
One would hope that the NIV revision, slated for 2011, would reflect responsible scholarship and respect for the biblical text. I use the Portuguese Bible for most of what I do. But when I use an English text, it depends on the need of the moment. Lately, I’ve turned often to the NET Bible, a very respectable alternative.
With this new revision, the NIV might again become a favorite to turn to. Or it may be one I turn against.
UPDATE: See also this USA Today article with quotes from Danby and the president of Zondervan.