Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The NIV Commissioning Anniversary (1965-2015)

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 Zondervan has recently announced the 50th anniversary of the commissioning of the New International Version (NIV) in 1965. In that year a special Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) was formed in  and is still operating. Read about the CBT here. The actual translation was published 13 years later in 1978, which will give another opportunity to celebrate the real 50-anniversary in 2028.

Pressrelease from Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI) — April 1, 2015:
In 1965, the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) took on the most massive translation project of modern times: to prepare a contemporary English translation of the Bible from the best available original manuscripts. Since its release in 1978, the NIV has become the world’s most read and most trusted modern-English Bible translation with over 450 million copies distributed worldwide. Upon the 1978 release of the NIV, readers were ecstatic that they could finally understand the Word of God in contemporary language. But the CBT’s work was far from complete. A smaller group of committee scholars assembled study notes, maps, charts and diagrams to provide additional content and context, resulting in the NIV Study Bible. This Bible released in 1985 and provided unprecedented clarity with over 20,000 study notes and hundreds of study tools available to readers. The NIV Study Bible was designed for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the Bible. To date, the NIV Study Bible has sold more than 10 million copies, making it the best-selling single study Bible available over the past 30 years. For additional information on the NIV 50th Anniversary, please visit www.thenivbible.com.
Regardless of what you think of this, you will find free stories, videos, app, reading plan, and other stuff on this website, that describes the history, honor the translators, and celebrates the impact of the NIV around the world. For instance, you can watch the video, “Made to Study” featuring members of the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT), Douglas Moo (chair), David Instone-Brewer (colleague of our bloggers of Tyndale House), Paul Swarup, Karen Jobes and others, which outlines the work they perform on this ongoing translation committee.

I would love to see some more resources on the textcritical work behind the translation of both the Old and New Testaments. In the meantime, you can read my old blogpost about the Greek NT text(s) underlying the New International Version (which has been reevaluated twice).

22 comments :

  1. This sets an excellent precedent: celebrating the anniversary of when you first thought of a project. Surely we should avoid the advertising hype and wait for the real fiftieth anniversary.

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  2. I dunno Peter, every year when you are celebrating your wedding anniversary (assuming you remember to celebrate it!) are you marking the completion of your marriage, or the commencement of it?

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    1. Generally (when I remember) we celebrate on the date of the wedding anniversary, not some time previously when I came up with the idea.

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    2. Not to beat a dead joke, but isn't that begging the question? What exactly is the "date of the wedding anniversary"? What event does that date mark? Well, the day you walked down the aisle, of course. But what was that: the beginning or completion of your marriage? The beginning, of course.

      We don't normally think of marriage as a "project" that has a start date and a finish date, but it does, doesn't it? I remember a friend whose wife passed away saying to me that he had had a successful marriage that was now finished.

      My point is that all projects have dates on which they began, and (many!) projects also have dates on which they are completed, finished, and end. We often celebrate the anniversary of completion dates (e.g. Armistice day) but we also sometimes celebrate the anniversary of beginning dates (weddings, birthdays, etc).

      Now, of course, that doesn't mean the NIV isn't being silly with this, but, hey, what else does their marketing team have to do this year?!

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    3. I think that is the point Ryan - only a marketing team would dream up celebrating the anniversary of the time they thought of publishing a new translation. Any normal human being would think of celebrating the date of the publication of the new translation. Does anyone seriously think they won't have another fiftieth anniversary in a couple of years?

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    4. Not to beat a dead joke, but isn't that begging the question? What exactly is the "date of the wedding anniversary"? What event does that date mark? Well, the day you walked down the aisle, of course. But what was that: the beginning or completion of your marriage? The beginning, of course.

      We don't normally think of marriage as a "project" that has a start date and a finish date, but it does, doesn't it? I remember a friend whose wife passed away saying to me that he had had a successful marriage that was now finished.

      My point is that all projects have dates on which they began, and (many!) projects also have dates on which they are completed, finished, and end. We often celebrate the anniversary of completion dates (e.g. Armistice day) but we also sometimes celebrate the anniversary of beginning dates (weddings, birthdays, etc).

      Now, of course, that doesn't mean the NIV isn't being silly with this, but, hey, what else does their marketing team have to do this year?!

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    5. Now you are repeating yourself. An obvious interpolation.

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    6. We celebrate the beginning of things that are continuing and the end of things that have finished. We celebrate the beginning of ones life because their is no desire for their life to be finished and likewise with marriages and the beginnings of freedoms. We celebrate the ends of wars, the ends of projects, and the ends of constructions. No one ever formally celebrates the time that generals thought up how to win a war.

      But really, that's all irrelevant; why do we even have time to celebrate the completion of a translation? ...especially one that is sold for profit and that was written in a language that already had a number of sufficient texts. Busybodies! Get to work planting and harvesting. God can use any translation that still has a shred of Him to get His message across, and of course there are advantages to every translation, even this one, but if those in the body were representing Christ with all of their strength as they should, they would be able to verbally communicate the gospel from even the most ancient English texts into something understandable by their contemporaries. We need the Spirit, not a reduplication of work that boasts on itself.

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  3. Posting advertisements now, are we?

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  4. Tommy, it is hard to see what text-critical analysis could be done. After all they translated directly from "the best available original manuscripts".

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  5. I enjoyed as well how they use the term "distributed" in the comment "450 million copies distributed worldwide"; and the word "sold" for "the NIV Study Bible has sold more than 10 million copies". In celebrating this translation I would be interested in seeing a general breakdown of where the money has gone.

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  6. Pete, Gordon Fee has worked on textcritical matters for this translation. In particular, I like his choice of variant in Luke 10:42-43, which is rather unique among bible translations (I might blog about it – I have recommended this variant for the Swedish Bible Society recently, but they did not dare to include it in the trial translation; otherwise they followed my recommendations everywhere). I think, to be fair, this anniversary should have been related to the Committee on Bible Translation formed in 1965, but since it is obscure in comparison with the "product", the NIV, I understand what they are doing, and I also understand that it draws criticism.

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    1. "but few things are needed—or indeed only one" vs "But one thing is needed"...I really don't prefer the unnecessarily verbose version.

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  7. I've just fixed a few errors in the post.

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  8. Blog vandalism. Isn't Zondervan's Greek NT reader supposed to print the Greek text underlying the NIV?

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  9. Yes, you never know what to expect from this guy (as expected when you look at his profile picture). I have now revised the post again, and hope that this can stand.

    Yes, the Zondervan Greek NT reader is supposed to print the Greek text underlying the NIV, but there have been several changes in the NIV from 1978 to 2011 (including textcritical work ... that was my point; Gordon Fee came on the CBT at a later stage I think, and made a revision, and I was hoping that something of that aspect would turn up on the dedicated webpage.

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    1. Wait, I thought that the Zondervan Greek NT reader is supposed to print the Greek text underlying the TNIV not the regular NIV. But maybe the NIV 2011 is based on the same text as the TNIV...but the 1983/4 wasn't obviously.

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  10. The TNIV has been discontinued.

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    1. I know that, but the second edition of Zondervan's Reader's Greek New Testament is the text followed by the TNIV. Is there a 3rd edition that's the text of the NIV2011? I haven't seen anything about one.

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