English Bible translation reviews: NIV-11 and ESV

May 6, 2011

I’ve been getting frequent requests for comments on the NIV-11. I have just received a copy of NIV-11 and also the NIV-11 module for Accordance, so I will be writing a review of the new NIV over the next two months. I haven’t read more than a few verses at this point, so I’m not ready to pass judgment on it yet. There have been some “loud rumblings of discontent” against it—but they started a year ago, long before it was released, I think assuming that it would be a repackaged TNIV. That I don’t think is fair, so I’m reserving judgment. (And remember that some single-issue groups and some vocal individuals [e.g., John Piper] didn’t like the NIV either!) I liked a lot of what I found in TNIV, but there was sufficient question in how some matters were handled that I decided it was not going to be generally usable. The market seems to have verified that call. If the NIV-11 keeps the good parts of the NIV and TNIV and has addressed the problematic aspects of the TNIV, then it might turn out to be useful. I think that the translation committee has listened carefully to the criticisms of the TNIV, so I’m hopeful—but I’m not ready to make that call yet. Keep an eye on this blog come July and I’ll be ready to have my say. There will be two versions of the review, one an academic paper for a conference the last week in July and another a “lay” version which will be published in a denominational magazine, probably early fall.

I’ve just found a very helpful site that is working carefully and (I think) wisely to evaluate several of the recent translations. This is the WELS web site (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod). There are a number of helpful articles, some pertaining to the NIV-11 and a perceptive review of the ESV.

3 responses to English Bible translation reviews: NIV-11 and ESV

  1. What do you think of 1 Tim 2:12. Can you live with “assume authority”?

  2. Interesting. I haven’t read 1 Tim (or much else) yet. I’ve avoided using the online text in advance; I want to be able to read large swaths of text at a time and I don’t find a web-based text convenient for that. Nor have I read many reviews by others. So I hadn’t run into that text yet. No translation is perfect, so it could depend on how many warts any given text has. 🙂

  3. 1 Tim 2:12 is one of the main reasons that the CBMW has rejection the NIV 2011:
    http://www.cbmw.org/Blog/Posts/CBMW-Responds-to-New-NIV2011

    I am not sure what to think about it. It is a wart for me, but like you say, how many can one accept. I know the original NIV had warts, like all translations do, but now, in hindsight, it does not seem they were as problematic, but it may be that I just learned to live with them.