Revisions to the New International Version of the Bible

January 2002: Zondervan is going to publish a feminist version of the NIV. For the story in the Washington Times, click here . For a website responding to the threat, go to Colorado Springs, May 27, 1997- Amid significant response about potential updates to the New International Version (NIV) Bible, International Bible Society (IBS) announced today that it will forego all plans to develop a revised edition of the NIV, the most widely distributed Bible in the English language, representing 45 percent of Bibles circulated in North America.

With this decision, IBS will also revise its current New International Readers Version (NIrV) Bible, geared to young readers and Adults for whom English is a second language, to reflect a treatment of gender consistent with the NIV.

For the full report from the Zondervan website, click here.

This page collects information on the proposed revisions to the New International Version of the Bible.

The NIV is an evangelical translation of the Bible published in 1978, non-literal and not based on the King James Version. The copyright is held by the the International Bible Society , but the Committee on Bible Translation has control over the content, and the licensed publishers are Zondervan in the United States (a subsidiary of Harper Collins , ultimately owned by Rupert Murdoch's New Corporation ) and Hodder & Stoughton Publishers in Britain. The NIV is the best-selling Bible in the United States.

The CBT has decided that the current NIV is inaccurate because it translates ``he`` as ``he'' instead of ``they''. While disclaiming feminist ideology, they wish to revise the translation in this way, and have done so in a version pubished in Britain and in a children's version. World magazine found out because of leaks through Priscilla Papers and publishes a series of articles to which publisher Zondervan responded with denials that any significant changes were planned and bitter accusations against World magazine.

The changes in the Hodder & Stoughton version are significant, and such as to make the NIV unacceptable to those Christians who take the Bible seriously. Whether the current NIV would continue to be available once the feminist version is published is unclear, though a recent press release by Zondervan says that it would. The children's version comes only in the feminist flavor. Other translations exist, including the New King James Version, the New American Standard Bible, and the Revised Standard Version (which, ironically, may be preferable to the NIV that was supposed to replace it for evangelicals), but these do not have the NIV's relatively colloquial style.

The dissembling conduct of Zondervan is also disturbing. It should be noted that they also publish the feminist New Revised Standard Version, and that in 1996 the company indicated opposition to government controls on pornography on the Internet. Why Zondervan should want to sell two feminist versions is curious from a business viewpoint.

The purpose of this website is to collect together anything relevant to this controversy. Visitors can decide for themselves whether the revisions are motivated by feminism or accuracy, whether Zondervan and World have been truthful, and whether the changes are important or trivial. I suggest starting with: WORLD Apr. 19, 1997: Comparing the two NIVs, or my own comments on an egregious example: Psalm 34, feminist motives , and the ABCD principles of translation . For a history of the controversy, visit the excellent CBMW: World vs. Zondervan Page, which has links to the World articles, past and present Zondervan webpages, and facsimile Priscilla Papers articles.

For the purpose of the revisions, the first place to go might be the CBT's 1995 preface.

World magazine has published many useful articles on this subject. They include:

More Links

Some Print Publications
  • The Holy Bible : New international version, containing the Old Testament and the New Testament. Grand Rapids : Zondervan Bible Publishers, 1978.
  • The Holy Bible : containing the Old and New Testaments : New revised standard version. New York : Oxford University Press, 1989. (Zondervan also publishes this.)
  • Questions and Answers about the New International Version, 28 pp., International Bible Society, 1989?.
  • The Story of the New International Version, 23 pp., International Bible Society, 1978.
  • Kenneth Barker, ed., The NIV: The Making of a Contemporary Translation, 177 pp., International Bible Society, 1991. This is a collection of scholarly articles on aspects of the NIV translation. Interestingly, feminist language seems not to have been an important enough issue to warrant comment in 1991.
    Last updated: Feb. 21, 2002. URL: Maintained by Eric Rasmusen .