NIV 2011

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The NIV 2011 is now online. My general sense after looking over their preface is that it's an improvement over the TNIV, and most of the changes in the TNIV were improvements over the NIV. Here are a few observations:

1. I'm not 100% happy with the gender-translation decisions, but it's much better than the TNIV, and the things they didn't change are the ones I've always thought were minor annoyances, while the things they did change were the more serious ones that were never the focus of the stupid complaints of most TNIV-haters. (For example, it's pretty dumb to claim that we undermine the authority of scripture by translating "adelphoi" as "brothers and sisters", when the term actually does refer to brothers and sisters.)

2. It looks like they've also made some further changes not present among the TNIV changes that were non-gender-related, including that awful NIV translation of Philemon 6 that the TNIV didn't fix. It now makes it clear that it's talking about cooperation rather than evangelism, which even a quick look at the Greek makes clear, but the translation committee couldn't see that the original NIV and TNIV "sharing your faith" sounds to most people as if it's about evangelism.

3. I don't understand their use of "mankind" rather than "humanity". It's one thing to retain masculine-form terms to refer to gender-indeterminate or gender-inclusive people or groups when altering that would change the meaning of some other element (e.g. by making the reference ambiguous as to being singular or plural or by changing the person from third-person to second-person). But why insist on "mankind" when "humanity" will do just fine? That seems like a battle with absolutely no reason to have. (I've been told that some people strangely think "humanity" can only be used in contexts referring to someone's humanity rather than to humanity as a collection of all humans. Such a view is demonstrably false. Just do a Google search of the word. So I don't count that as a real reason.)

4. They have a healthy use of singular-referring "they". They resist it in cases where it makes the singular or plural reference ambiguous when the original text is not ambiguous, which I think is good. That was a big problem in the TNIV. But they use it freely when the context makes it clear that it's singular-referring, such as when it refers back to an earlier singular term in the same sentence. Their explanation points to the long history of singular-referring "they" in English going back to the KJV (but they forgot to mention its use in Shakespeare and Jane Austen to satisfy those who continue to complain that it's bad English and never has been used by respectable writers). In any case, it's far superior to use singular-referring "they" in these unambiguous ways than to engage in the awkward expressions the NLT, TNIV, NRSV, and other so-called gender-inclusive translations have used to avoid using masculine-form pronouns to refer to gender-unknown people or gender-mixed groups. They even looked at actual studies to figure out what usage is most common, and it turns out to be the singular "they" (not that this is any surprise to me).

I may have more to say as I read some of it and think more about some of what they've done, but I'll be looking forward to seeing how they've made some compromises between TNIV style and the ESV style that they wanted to move back toward (which was why they brought Bill Mounce on board to help with). I still will prefer the ESV and HCSB in general, but on gender-translation issues I think they've managed to bring the NIV much closer to what I'd see as ideal, and I do think the ESV and HCSB have irrationally resisted a little too much toward approaching ordinary English in this way.

7 Comments

I thought you and your readers might find it useful to know that I’ve just put up some pages that show how similar the NIV2011 is to the NIV1984 and the TNIV. My pages also show each verse where the NIV2011 differs from the NIV1984 or the TNIV in an easily read / clear manner.

The pages are online @ http://www.slowley.com/niv2011_comparison/

I’d appreciate any comments or suggestions if anyone has any. Please either email me robert@slowley.com or leave a comment on my blog post http://community.livejournal.com/robhu_bible/4977.html

Thank you,
-RobHu

I put together an exhaustive list of all the differences here: http://donteatthefruit.com/niv2011-changes/

Regarding Philemon 6, I wonder if "sharing your faith" was a common way to refer to evangelism back when the NIV was first published. I've often wondered that. It certainly does now, which is why that translation needs to be ditched, but I've been curious about the meaning of that phrase back in the late 60's and early 70's when the NIV translation was being done. Any insight? (you know, because you're a whole lot older than I)

I don't have much sense of when "sharing your faith" came to mean evangelism. I first heard it in the early 90s, but I suspect it was long before that. The original NIV translators may have been innocent of the charge.

I checked the TNIV, and they actually did fix this in that, so it made me wonder what translation had unconscionably continued the NIV's problematic rendering, and it was the ESV of all translations. I remember something more recent than the ESV, though. I think it must have been the ISV, which does perpetuate the NIV rendering. I know the NIrV, the first ill-fated revision of the NIV, did not have the TNIV fix.

I've significantly updated my NIV2011 comparison pages. I've improved the wording, fixed the colouring in of changes (and made it clearer), made some of the tables clearer, fixed some mistakes that made some of my numbers slightly off, and have added more explanatory text.

Perhaps the biggest additions though are these two new pages:

Top 250 added / removed words:
http://www.slowley.com/niv2011_comparison/most_added_removed_words.html

Top 250 most changed verses:
http://www.slowley.com/niv2011_comparison/most_changed_verses.html


You can also look at the details of the changes within a book (this was always there, but some people didn't realise), e.g.
http://www.slowley.com/niv2011_comparison/Genesis.html


The start page itself can be found @
http://www.slowley.com/niv2011_comparison/


It's also worth knowing that John Dyer has made a series of similar (excellent) pages:
http://donteatthefruit.com/2010/11/niv-2011-every-last-change/

-RobHu

My computer generated comparison of the NIV2011 with the TNIV and NIV1984 has had many major updates:
http://www.slowley.com/niv2011_comparison/


1. Greek text - now includes the SBLGNT with apparatus

2. Hebrew text - HBS text included (experimental)

3. Most changed verses list compared with both TNIV and NIV1984:
http://www.slowley.com/niv2011_comparison/most_changed_verses_tniv.html
http://www.slowley.com/niv2011_comparison/most_changed_verses_niv1984.html

4. List of (possible) proper noun changes:
http://www.slowley.com/niv2011_comparison/proper_noun_changes.html

5. List of word changes relevant to the gender language debate:
http://www.slowley.com/niv2011_comparison/cbmw_words.html

6. List of all words in text (warning: page is very large)
http://www.slowley.com/niv2011_comparison/all_words.html

Plus many many bug fixes, improvements in presentation, and other minor fixes.

-RobHu

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