NIV 2011: A Review

NIV 2011: A Review February 21, 2011

I was impressed by the recent review of the NIV 2011 by Bridget Jack Jeffries, a student at TEDS, a Covenant Church member, and a blogger. Bridget’s review is in The Priscilla Papers, and it is a good time to express our admiration and regret at the death of Catherine Clark Kroeger, who began The Priscilla Papers.

A brief sketch: the NIV came out in the 70s, it continually was revised, the TNIV came out in 2002, it was blasted uncharitably and became a translation whose reputation had been maligned and had a hard time making a go of it. It’s sad and it’s a shame what its critics said. For me it’s nothing more than a bitter chapter among evangelicals who had more fear than intellect at work. But that’s behind us. Zondervan and the Committee on Bible Translation have worked together to “update” the NIV into the NIV 2011. (A Roman couple to the left.)

This is where Bridget Jack Jeffries’ review in The Priscilla Papers comes in. As a teen Bridget became aware of Phoebe — a servant (or deaconess) and not a deacon — and Junia — who had become the male Junias. She liked the TNIV when it came out and was hurt both by the campaign against it and by the decision to retire the TNIV. So, Bridget examined the passages that pertain to women’s issues and gender-inclusiveness.

What do you think of the NIV 2011? What are you hearing about it?

I won’t summarize the whole article. She examines Psalm 68:11 (NIV 2011 is excellent on seeing women singing; she calls it the NIV-11, which looks like some medical category to me); Romans 16:1-2 (NIV 2011: deacon and benefactor); Romans 16:7 (NIV 2011: Junia and “outstanding among the apostles”); 1 Cor 11:2-12 (the issue of “have authority over her own head” seems to be motivated to keep everyone happy); 1 Timothy 2:11-12 (“assume authority”); 1 Timothy 3:11 (“their women” and not “their wives”; female deacons are in view).

Inclusive language: NIV 1984 was more masculine; TNIV was more egalitarian; NIV 2011 is in between. Right here one can find evidence of why the NIV 2011 exists. She thinks the results are “inconsistent.” Mankind and man and humanity and people … she sees lots of diversity in translation and nothing consistent. Salvation passages are gender inclusive; female leaders are not feminized into things like prophetesses or deaconesses. They are prophets and deacons. Good for the NIV 2011 on that.

“In most cases, I am adequately, if not deeply, satisfied with the NIV-2011’s treatment of gender” (28). But she makes an important point that many are making: “I cannot help but wonder if the translators did not sometimes act out of a desire to please hierarchists and egalitarians alike.” She sees the inconsistency on inclusive language to be perhaps a “misplaced desire to please everyone.”

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