NIV Bible celebrates 50 years since its commissioning

NEWS | Tess Holgate
Tuesday 7 July 2015

This year marks 50 years since a group of 80 evangelical Bible scholars met together on the outskirts of Chicago to start work on a new Bible translation, starting not with an existing translation but with the best manuscripts available in the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic.

Thirteen years later, in 1978, the New International Version was published.

Bible Society Australia’s CEO Dr Greg Clarke says, “they [the translation team] sought to balance the best scholarship in biblical studies with the need for readability and cultural sensitivity.”

Dr Clarke said the NIV was the first to develop the ‘dynamic translation’ approach, meaning a Bible translation that could react to developments in language usage in a modern world.

“It [the NIV] … was arguably the most successful at blending together great historical and grammatical scholarship with an understanding of contemporary linguistics and cultural idioms,” says Dr Clarke.

“The NIV also has an eye towards how the Bible hangs together around the person and work of Jesus Christ.”

Since 1978, over 450 million copies of the NIV have been produced. It is the world’s most widely read translation.

It’s still so popular today because “people look for a Bible that has no agenda other than engaging you with the Word of God as directly as possible,” says Dr Clarke.

Dr Douglas Moo, Chair of the Committee on Bible Translation (the body that oversees revisions of the NIV text) says, “The NIV was conceived at a time when Christians had few choices in Bible translations.

“The Authorised Version (King James Version) commanded the most attention, but its English was antiquated and hard to understand. The Living Bible had appeared, but its fidelity to the original was questioned. And the RSV was not trusted by many Christians because of a perceived theological bias in the work,” says Dr Moo.

“The NIV was intended to fill the gap by providing English speakers all over the world with a Bible that would be faithful to the originals and clear in English.”

There have been two revisions of the text of the NIV, one in 1984, and one in 2011. Both were the product of close study of developments in biblical scholarship and changes in English usage.

The updates serve to fulfil the vision of the NIV Committee on Bible Translation (CBT), that is, “to communicate accurately the Word of God to this generation.”

This year also sees the launch of the new NIV Zondervan Study Bible, which uses the text of the 2011 NIV accompanied by nearly 20,000 all-new study notes, 28 articles on theological concepts, maps and charts.

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