Patrick Schreiner

Dan Wallace’s Conclusion on the NIV 2011

In Theology on 07/28/2011 at 6:17 PM

Dan Wallace has a series of posts on the NIV 2011. His conclusion I think is fair, and well thought out. I do think he has underestimated the problems just a tad, and the slippery slope that could follow.

  • Part 1: A Selected History of the English Bible
  • Part 2: Praise for the NIV 2011
  • Part 3: Weaknesses in the NIV 2011
  • Part 4: Conclusion

Here is his conclusion:

In sum, what can we say overall about the NIV 2011? First, it is a well-thought out translation, with checks and balances through rigorous testing, overlapping committees to ensure consistency and accuracy, and a publisher willing to commit significant resources to make this Bible appealing to the Christian reader. The commitment of the CBT, Biblica, the NIV translators, and Zondervan is truly stunning. A serious investment of money and manpower has produced this translation. And why? To encourage the believer in Jesus Christ to seek his face in the scriptures, and to grow in grace because of what he or she sees. The obvious dedication of all the principals to the Bible as God’s Word must not go unnoticed. This is a translation by believers for believers. And precisely because the translators represent various denominations and countries, as well as positions about the role of women in the church, the NIV 2011 has an incredibly strong foundation. The unity that is the NIV produced from such diversity speaks well for the health of the Church today. The translators model what believers are to be like.

Second, the scholarship that produced this version is excellent, both in text and translation decisions. The textual basis and rendering of difficult expressions in the original are bold features that warrant our gratitude. This is no fly-by-night operation. Unspeakable effort has gone into the production of this version of the Bible, with thousands of decisions being made by individuals and committees, all under the purview of the prime mandate of the CBT. For this, believers everywhere can and should thank God for the NIV, because it is what it purports to be: the eternal word of God in the language of English-speaking people today.

Third, there are problems with this translation, of course. But there are problems with every translation. Not a single one is perfect, though some are significantly better than others. The New World Translation, because of its strong sectarian bias and downright impossible renderings of the text in many places where the original text contradicts the core beliefs of this group, is far and away the worst translation in English dress. On the other end of the spectrum are some gems, and the NIV 2011 is one of them. Although it is easy for people to become pseudo-informed about Bible translations through the Internet, a far more valuable exercise would be to find a good version and read it. And for readability, the NIV 2011 has no peers. Debates over which translation is better ultimately are a major distraction whose fire the Enemy loves to stoke. As with the handful of other exceptional translations, the NIV 2011 definitely should be one that the well-equipped English-speaking Christian has on his or her shelf, and one that they consult often for spiritual nourishment. Tolle lege!

HT: Andy Naselli

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