Friday, 24 June 2016

NIV evolutions

A couple of times on the blog I have zoomed in on what appears to be an important shift in the NIV in its more recent edition (2011). There have actually be three main "incarnations" to this translation:
1. 1984
2. 2005 (TNIV)
3. 2011

In the process of compiling my Psalms reading plan (Psalms: God's keys to our presence), I have discovered many of these discrepancies that, for me, lean in favour of the older translation. Before I mention my difficulties there, let's look at how wide-reaching those changes have been:

(taken from

So far I have discovered two main (great) sources for tracking the changes:

You won't believe how in-depth they are! One important thing to note is that it is actually no longer so easy to find electronic versions of the 1984 NIV now. The reason for this is that most sites just updated their version with the 2011 version. It is not called "NIV 2011". It is simply called "NIV", so it is not always straight forward to know unless you are aware of a key change. But for the most-part, 1984 has gone.

One place I still go, especially for the Psalms study, is Just select NIV on the drop-down menu, and (although you would have no way of knowing this), you are provided the 1984 version. However, if you go to the main site, and make the same selection, then you are provided the 2011 version! Crazy, huh? I think it's useful to know.

A while back while looking into Christ's role in creation, I noted a rather subtle but essential recognition of an inaccuracy in Colossians 1:16. Perhaps under the influence of a renewed Jesus movement in the evangelical churches (I speculate), the Father was even eclipsed here:

For by in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were have been created bythrough him and for him.

Note how essential "Father-space" (see 1 Cor 8:6) had been filled by a Trinity-subsuming Christ who was simply understood to be Creator. So these little tweaks are, in my view, very significant. So why am I unhappy about the Psalms direction? Rather than bore any readers here with more examples, let me just grant that the word "soul" is grossly misunderstood. I acknowledge that this word in a worn-out evangelism of soul-saving has become unhelpfully unclear. The 2011 NIV has opted for a rather novel way out. Where it feels like it can get away with it, it scraps the "soul" and replaces it with the person as a whole (or a pronoun). 

I'm not satisfied with that solution, because it is precisely the wholeness of a person that is at stake and that is lacking when the person is not entirely present. To be present requires strong intra-connecting aspects of hands, face, eyes, bones, thoughts, emotions, words, tongues, heart and soul. There is a spectrum of parts comprising the whole that goes from visible to invisible, tangible to intangible, emitter to receptor, and even teacher to student. This is why I recommend reading the Psalms in the 1984 version: in my view, you will be less confused by the pronoun play.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks very much for your feedback, really appreciate the interaction.