Arrived! April 23, 2011

My copy of the NIV Thinline Reference Bible, Large Print (large print edition) arrived, and I encourage you to get one. The Committee on Bible Translation deserves our thanks for their care and their patience — fielding inquiries and pondering suggestions and making corrections and always with more than a few critics looking over their shoulders.

Anyway, this will now be the Bible I take to class and will preach from. It is thin, a center column, and a nice readable font. I have to say, too, that I prefer no red letters in the words of Jesus. It has a nice soft leather cover, but there are clothbound and bonded leather editions for a cheaper price.

I was a big fan of the TNIV but the days of the TNIV are now over. I’ve had months to get used to it coming to its end, and the changes in the NIV 2011 are not always the ones I would make, but this is an exceptional translation, designed to be read and heard and in an idiom that we can understand.

It is my hope that this Bible can be a uniting Bible. Bibles should not be tribal, and they should not be known for a given posture on politically hot theological topics, nor should they be used as a litmus test of who is the most faithful. They are designed so that we might hear a faithful word from God, and that we might be able to read it and teach it with confidence.

For all the changes, see this.

Yes, I got a free copy from Zondervan, but what I have said has nothing to do with that. I use a few translations, but my favorites are the NIV and the NLT and I am also using the new Common English Bible.

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  • Scott Eaton


    I hope this will be a uniting Bible as well and that many people will use it. This is why I am switching from the ESV back to the NIV. The ESV is a good enough translation and I have enjoyed using it. But honestly, I think the ESV possesses some of those tribal overtones and I no longer want to be associated with that. In my distinctly non-expert opinion, the CBT doesn’t seem to have an agenda and simply wants to produce the most accurate and usable translation possible.

    Also the NIV seems to resonate with my kids, the new believers I work with and most of the people in our church. Besides, I feel a bit nostaglic because my very first Bible as a new believer back in 1984 was the NIV. We have a long history together.

    One more thing, for those in the Chicago area and especially the NW Suburbs, the Seeds Bookstore at Willow Creek has a nice selection of the updated NIV on sale for 20% off the list price. No, I don’t get kickbacks. 🙂

  • Clay Knick

    I received mine Thursday. Excellent in every way as bibles go, and I am thrilled it does not have red letters! I’m impressed with the care Zondervan took with this. I’m with you on this, Scot. Even though I still love the old RSV, and count the NRSV to be an excellent translation (our pew bible), I really love the NIV update. It will be my reading bible and also the one I recommend most often to be sure. The “old” NIV was my reading bible for over 30 years and I used it alongside the TNIV. So now with the updated NIV I’ve made the switch.

  • I’m happy with the new NIV, though I have yet to get my copy. This looks mighty good. I love large print, anymore. And also don’t want red letter.

    I’ve been a TNIV user, and yes, an NLT one a bit in the past, as well. I think overall this is a great move on the part of the NIV, to unite all NIV readers again. No translation is perfect, and the older I get, the less I care to be loyal to one translation, but there is just something about the NIV that keeps drawing me back.

  • I admit to considering whether, if called to read this NIV aloud, if I will change the written word, “mankind”, into the spoken word, “humanity.” (Thinking of my friends who read Hebrew, and use the Tetragrammaton as the cue for the spoken “Adonai”. 🙂 )

  • rjs


  • Scot,

    I somewhat agree with your other commentators. When I became a believer, the NIV had just first come out. I used it faithfully over the years and then began looking into the Amplified, and finally switched recently to the ESV. I’ve never used the TNIV.

    I don’t personally see much of a problem with looking at other translations in order to seek a better understanding. Some say this or that translation is better or worse; I don’t really buy it, as each can and do have their own benefits and faults. What was inspired, after all, were the original manuscripts in the original language, as opposed to one English version over another.

    But having said that, I too find myself more and more reverting back to the earlier editions of the NIV (I haven’t seen the latest edition). Maybe that’s because the early NIV is the version in my old Thompson Chain Reference Bible that I’ve loved for many years.

    Yes, it would be nice to have a “uniting” Bible. Will it happen? Personally, I have my doubts, but that’s just me.


  • I want to express my thanks also to the CBT and the wisdom behind this 2011 NIV. I don’t have the print copy but I’ve been using the digital copy on since late last year. While we are talking about translations has anyone else seen the SourceView Bible? Our missionaries sent the church a copy and I’ve enjoyed reading it. It may bring corporate Bible reading as a discipline back to the Church.

  • E.G.

    rjs: Yes! 🙂

    (I also pull out my old “green book,” a.k.a., Living Bible, circa 1971, quite often. Of course, it’s a paraphrase. I don’t know if I like it for easier-to-read-but-still-serious language, or just the fact that it makes me nostalgic a bit. That’s what my dad would read to us at the table as kids.)

  • LCG has a great price on this. Reg $129 for $52.99. 🙂

  • Ron newberry

    I have had the exact same Bible for about a month mow. I agree it is an exceptional Bible. I hope Zondervan will have the backbone to standup to those who killed the TNIV and keep this.

  • rjs

    (If … more likely when … I get one it will be cheaper than this edition 8) )

  • Tim


    “It is my hope that this Bible can be a uniting Bible. Bibles should not be tribal, and they should not be known for a given posture on politically hot theological topics, nor should they be used as a litmus test of who is the most faithful.”

    Then why on earth are you sticking with the NIV? Even the new version displays an embarrassing degree of politically-motivated slight-of-hand (i.e., inserting words like “and” to harmonize texts and burying textual corrections in the footnotes – if presented at all – if it threatens cherished fundaentalist ideals of what scripture should look like) to appease the fundamentalist crowd within Evangelicalism. Take Deuteronomy 32:8 for a prime example.

    If you want an excellent translation, try the New Jerusalem Bible.

  • I no longer care which translation I read or from which I preach. More often than not, I cite the translation that gets it closer to what I feel the original was intending to say, and so I fluidly move from NIV to NLT to ESV to NASB to even The Message. I think we’ve gotten to the point where audiences are no longer needing us to select our “one official translation” in our churches. Many are savvy enough now to understand that we have a number of great translations and paraphrases in English. They even flip through these with ease on their smart phones and iPads.

  • Cody

    Could not agree more with you Scot that Bibles should not be tribal, but if that is the case why is it you would not unite around a translation like the ESV?

    When you speak of not being tribal about a translation do you really mean not being tribal about one that is not to your liking?

    I honestly think that when Zondervan decided to move on from the NIV to the TNIV that was the end of non-partisan Bibles. I wish this was not reality but it seems to be the case.

    Curious though what in the new NIV you would have said differently as you alluded that it was not all to your liking.

  • Ellen

    Unfortunately, the NIV is just as tribal as any other. Certain interpretative choices made according to a particular bent and all. :-p

  • Maybe the reason I use the NIV, or revert back to it is that I believe it is good to be as natural in translating into the receptor language as possible while seeking to be as faithful to the original language as possible. I’ve heard that the ESV somehow preserves something that is Spirit-oriented in word order, but I just doubt that philosophy. Translating as well as sharing God’s word across cultures is incarnational as is everything in the Christian faith, therefore we seek to be true to the original while conveying it in a matter which completely identifies with the receptor language. The issue carries with it some complexity, more than that, a bit in my mind anyhow, like how sometimes our cultural constructs need changed. But this for me is probably why the NIV wins out over the others. At any rate I agree with what Billy Graham is said to have once said: The best Bible translation is the one you use.

  • Scot McKnight


    Truth be told, I’m no fan of the ESV because of its history and intent and motivation, but that was barely on my mind.

    Here’s what we’ve got today, and I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because of some work I’m doing on the Sermon on the Mount and reading some translations alongside the commentary work.

    NRSV for the older mainliners (and it is one standard Bible for me for classes since I was at NPU).
    ESV for the NeoReformed crowd and they are for it intensively. I’ve never had one.
    TNIV for egalitarians and moderate evangelicals. I use this often and have preached from it for more than five years.
    CEB for new mainliners.

    What is immediately obvious is that these are tribalistic. If they weren’t tribalistic they would be so much used by one sort of Christian group.

    I find this disgusting in tribalism. Bibles should be acceptable because they are done well, useful for both individuals and church readings, and accurate as can be in translation. They should not be rallying platforms.

    And no one seems to be giving much attention to the NLT.

    Publishing houses matter deeply in this regard.
    Maybe we should insist Bibles be published by neutral publishers, like Oxford and Cambridge, and therefore drive the translations away from the segments of the church.

  • Katherine

    I have mainly only used the TNIV since it came out. Why is it being discontinued? What differences does the new NIV have from the TNIV?

  • Lyn

    My first NIV was 1978, but I also use NASB and NRSV to check the meanings behind NIVs idioms (when I’m too lazy to check the Greek and Hebrew, lol).

  • My primary reading Bible is the NLT. I love the way it reads and flows. Also, I think it represents the the intended meaning of the text as well as any Bible I’ve used. For study, I enjoy the NIV (I think my version is 1984) and the NSRV. I have most other translations, but they were primarily purchased as comparison copies. I use them occasionally, but not too much.

    Scot, I wonder why there hasn’t been much attention to the NLT?

  • For the past few years large print has been my favorite version 😉

  • Daniel

    No red letters! Aren’t those the most important teachings in the whole Bible?

  • I agree with Bob (btw, love his blog) about using various translations. I grew up on the NIV and switched to the ESV when it came out. At my former church, the pastor always used the NASB (my current one primarily uses the NIV). I received The Mosaic Bible (NLT) as a Christmas gift when it first came out. Recently an Orthodox friend gave me the Orthodox Study Bible (NT is NKJV and OT is its own translation). That’s probably my favorite right now, but more because of the study notes – fascinating insights on Scriptures that I have never heard in the evangelical world. Now what I’d like is a good Jewish translation (not impressed with the Jewish NT by David Stern that I have – maybe the full Bible is better).

  • beakerj

    I love the NLT, & have used it since becoming somewhat disillusioned with the interminable sentences the NIV uses, containing about 18 semantic clauses each. Maybe this follows the Greek, I don’t know. All I know is that the NLT is readable.
    When I need to check something I have my super duper mega 4 translation Bible that lets me see the NKJ, NIV, NLT, & NASB, in that order across the page. It’s a mighty tome & carrying it makes me look a good deal more holy. And now I discover it makes me look non-partisan too. Win win.

  • leah

    The TNIV and NRSV are my main translations for reading, study, and teaching, although my church is “standardized” on the 1984 NIV because that’s our “pew Bible.” I like to translate as much as I can on my own, but sometimes that’s not always realistic.

    I like much of the new NIV, but as a woman, I am disappointed to see the reversion to “mankind.” Especially in Gen 1:27 🙁 I admit the TNIV’s “human beings” loses some of the poetry, but I think it’s very important not to gender people when stating that “male and female” were created in God’s image.

    I’m also a Messianic Jew, and I can comment that you won’t generally find a Jewish NT 🙂 David Stern’s is the only one I’m aware of. The synagogue I go to uses the NKJV (for reasons I don’t totally understand). However, the JPS Tanakh is an excellent translation – I use the Student Edition which has Engligh and Hebrew side-by-side, but you can get an English-only. Like all translations (let’s be fair), certain translations/interpretations are chosen for doctrinal reasons – in many cases passages traditionally interpreted by Christians as trinitarian or christotelic have been translated differently. Also, it follows the Masoretic text, so the person above complaining about Deut 32:8 will not be appeased. However, it is still a good, scholarly translation, and a fresh one for Christian eyes.

  • Ty

    While you may not be a fan of ESV, one nice thing they did was offer a FREE iPhone/pad app, which I think will help it’s popularity. Have you heard anything about a free NIV app?

  • Cody

    Thanks Scot for the reply, gives me some good stuff to think about and is helpful in my own education on these matters.

  • Craig Beard

    I’ve read a bit in the NIV2011 and like it. The things I don’t like is that, so far, Zondervan hasn’t produced a single column text-only edition or text-plus-references edition. I have an ‘old’ NIV that is just the single-column text (which I love) and a TNIV single-column reference edition (which, layout-wise, I like almost as much). If you have ANY pull with Zondervan, PLEASE encourage them to produce a single-column, text-only, non-red-letter edition. [I don’t ask much, eh?] Thanks!

  • Edna

    I’ll always love the KJV. A spiritual and literary masterpiece.

  • Robin

    This thread is almost dead, but I’ll add my two cents. I prefer a literal translation like the NASB, but I use the ESV since it is a good mixture of literal translation principles and readability. The only bible I have ever really viewed as partisan is the TNIV. I have used the NIV, NKJV, and NASB in the past with no complaints.

    If you had to pick a modern translation (since 1980) to try and compete with the 1611 KJV in terms of accuracy and elegance, what would it be? Have we put out anything recently that could even compare to the grace of the KJV?

  • Robin

    Christopher Hitchen’s recent post got me thinking about that last question. He compared to Phillipians 4:8 in the KJV, which was read at his father’s funeral, to a “hip” modern translation and the absence of glory* in the modern translation was palpable.

    *I can’t think of a word for what was missing. It just sounded like the difference between reading Shakespeare and reading an 8th grade term paper.

  • Daniel

    Robin, I think Hitchens missed the “whatsoever”. When it’s repeated so much, for one who doesn’t read the Bible, it sounds weird. Or, as he said, like it was written by an 8th grader.

  • I was sad to see the TNIV go too, but understand Zondervan’s position in discontinuing it an revamping a revised NIV. I’ll be doing the same as you, Scot… I’ll check out the thinline while I’m at it.

    I appreciate comment #1 regarding “tribal overtones.”

  • Annabel Robinson

    What is the ISBN no of the edition you have? When I click on the link on your post it takes me to a red letter edition. Is there a calfskin black letter version? Or do you have a bonded leather edition? I’ve clicked around all morning trying to sort this out.

  • Rick

    Scot, will you ever preach/teach from an iPad?

  • Hans

    Oh gosh! Americans and their bible version wars rofl. As a dutchman the first english bible I really read was the NIV84 but first I moved to the NRSV and now mostly read the ESV and the NLT.
    In my anglican parish here (yes we do have anglican parishes in mainland Europe) we use the NRSV but also occasionally the NEB and the KJV (this mainly due to the very elevated average age of the parishioners who are mostly seniors).
    Being a reformed anglican (not hyper calvinistic though, I agree more with Luther than Calvin) I prefer the ESV and yes that is very tribal.
    Now that the days of big mainline churches are fading I guess a uniting bible is no longer feasable in the english speaking world although almost all churches in the Netherlands use a new bible version from 2004, the NBV (New Bible Translation) which is kinda inbetween the CEB and the NIV2011.

  • nothingman

    As one who used the NIV84 as a child and through teenage years, then moved to the TNIV when it was released, the updated NIV is a natural progression for me. I have flirted with other translations, but the NIV strikes a nice balance I can’t find in the ESV or NLT. In addition, my church uses the NIV from the pulpit and in all ministries, so it makes good sense to use a common translation. I see value in comparing translations when studying a text, but for me, the updated NIV is the standard.