Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Hopes for the Revised NIV Bible

I love the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. I also like the English Standard Version, New American Standard Bible, the New King James Version, and The Message; but the New International Version is my favorite.

In 2011, a revised edition of the NIV will be released. The translation team is working to update the language, making it a little easier to read and to understand.

I would like to see three changes in the revision of the NIV.

1. I would like to see "atoning sacrifice" and "sacrifice of atonement" changed to "the one who would turn aside his wrath, taking away sin." In places like Romans 3:25, Jesus Christ is referred to as a "sacrifice of atonement." Some translations call him a "propitiation" in those places. However, neither phrase or word is as easily understood as "the one who would turn aside his wrath, taking away sin" (as the footnote in the current NIV states in an alternative reading of the verse). Such a phrase is both accurate and easily understood. It would be a great improvement.

2. I would like to see all weights, measurements, and monetary units changed so that they would be easily understood. The TNIV (Today's New International Version) had its flaws, but it did an outstanding job of making changes in translating weights, measurements, and monetary units into terms that can be easily understood by today's readers. For example, the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 was changed to the parable of the bags of gold. When contemporary English-speakers use the word "talent," we do not usually consider it to be a monetary unit. When we are teaching a Bible class to children or to people unfamiliar with the Bible, we need to stop and explain the definition of talent. With this type of change, a Bible study would not need to be interrupted in order to explain the word.

3. I would like to see gender-accurate language without the attempt to neuter the language. The TNIV never became popular because it seemed to try to neuter the language. For example, Matthew 5:41 states in the TNIV, "If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles." In trying to neuter the language, the translators butchered the grammar. It should have read, "If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles." I could never enjoy reading the TNIV because of the problems with the grammar. However, the revised NIV could improve the gender-accuracy of its translation by changing "brothers" to "brothers and sisters" when the original intent of a verse meant "siblings." For example, 1 Corinthians 1:10 states, "I appeal to you, brothers..." It would be more accurate to state, "I appeal to you, brothers and sisters..." Such a change would enhance the accuracy of the NIV and the ability to understand it.

Hopefully, the new NIV will contain these kinds of improvements. It's already my favorite translation, but a few changes would make it even better.


Mitchell said...

You should be on the translation committee, Terry!

Great thoughts. I too, prefer the NIV and have for years. I would love to see the changes you suggested in the new release.

Keep up the good work.

Terry said...

Thanks, Mitchell. I would love to be on the translation committee. I have only one problem: I can't read Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic. :)

Bob, Sarah, and Miriam Logsdon said...

Terry, recently I have been thinking about how helpful it would be if translators had a way to show the "you plural" vs. "you singular" in translating. "Ya'll" or "all of you" might do. Ha. I sense that this could lead to more of a community focus in spiritual formation/transformation as well as other things.

Terry said...

Bob, you have a good point. Sometimes I need to look in a good commentary to find out whether "you" is plural or singular in a particular passage.