Observations on the 2011 NIV

NIV2011Now they’ve done it! They changed my favorite verse, my life verse.   “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work (2 Co. 9:8 1984 NIV) becomes “And God is able to bless you abundantly …. (2011 NIV).   At first I felt the gut reaction of reading a new translation. It is different. I resist change to that to which I have become accustomed and especially hold dear.   But then I thought about the new version. It’s so accessible to the uninitiated, so immediately plain; it requires no accompanying explanation of the varied meanings of the word grace in the NT in order to understand it.   I could not help but be impressed that for many readers, probably for most readers, the new version was more understandable, more in today’s language.   That is really the point of this new translation in a nutshell.   And I could not help but approve, in spite of myself.

I have been working on a comparison of the 1984 NIV with the 2011 NIV for some time. I have now been using the 2011 NIV for my sermon text at church for more than a year. I like it very much and find it to be in keeping with the reformation principle that the Bible needs to be in the language of the people.

10 Observations

  1. First of all, reading this translation is so easy! One morning, I easily read Galatians through in morning devotions.
  2. Second, I am much impressed with the gender sensitivity that has been used to respond to the fact that modern English usage of gender pronouns has changed. It has resulted in a translation that is gender friendly yet does not sacrifice the patriarchal nature of OT culture or impinge upon the ubiquitous divinely chosen metaphor of the Fatherhood of God.
  3. The 2011 version will be more easily understood by new Bible readers. I think the translators of this version have tried to keep them in mind as they worked.
  4. Perhaps more than any other version I have read, there is excellent feeling for the overall outline of passages rather than just verse by verse translation (Example 2 Cor. 9).
  5. Often the 2011 has moved a little more away from the tradition of translation into English and toward increased accuracy. A relatively trivial but noticeable example is the dropping of the traditional “O” in front of “LORD” in translating in the Psalms (Example Ps. 8:1).
  6. The exceptions to the move toward tight accuracy are when the 2011 includes more explanatory phrases to help newer readers (Example Rom. 15:4).
  7. The new version tries to translate more for the immediate context with less intent of creating general quotable wise sayings as previous versions have done (unfortunate example Ps. 19:14).
  8. Subtitles make it much easier to skim for pericopes and follow the thought outline of the passage. John 17 is a good example.
  9. Female leaders in the NT church get better treatment in the 2011 version.   In Rom. 16:1, Pheobe is called a deacon – using the usual translation of the Greek word.   In Rom. 16:7, Andronicus’ companion is called Junia, rather than Junias (The Greek form can be either m. or f.).   1 Tim 3:11 refers in the 2011 version to the “women” rather than the “wives” (1984) leaving open the possibility in English that is open in the Greek that the reference may be to women leaders—to deaconesses as well as other leading women.
  10. The treatment of Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11 seems problematic for contemporary translations.   In the 2011 NIV, the language of the notes setting apart Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11 has been softened and in the case of John 8:1-11 also balanced. This is an improvement over the 1984 version, but I would have liked to have seen the notes moved to the footnotes. In my red letter version, the publisher made things worse by not putting the words of Jesus in red in these passages. They should be!

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A surprisingly effective way to mark in your Bible in color

Children's large size colored pencils

Write in your Bible

I am always encouraging people to personalize their own Bibles by marking verses that have special meaning for them.   Most people who do this soon want to categorize their marking by using some kind of color system.    Many people also want to use a marking system that does not obscure the words as one often accidentally does when using ink.   The method must also not bleed through.    Several years ago I happened to try something very simple but also very effective–children’s colored pencils.   They have fatter colored “leads” than normal colored pencils.   They act like a highlighter but do not bleed through like a highlighter will.   Because they are thicker, many fewer strokes are required and there is no danger of torn pages as with sharp smaller ones.

The only problem is that they are seldom available.    I have literally looked for years for a second set to have at home.   Well, this week I found one.   They are currently available again.  I found mine at Staples.

A simple colored pencil system

I highly recommend a simple color scheme using colored pencils to mark your Bible.  I use orange for promises and special verses.   If I can’t figure out what color to use, it gets orange.  Blue is for salvation; verses related to what Jesus has done for us and what gifts God has given us through his Son.    Yellow is for verses of praise to God; verses that adore Jesus Christ.   Green is for spiritual growth. Red is for stewardship verses that encourage me to use what I have well.  Purple is for verses about heaven.   That’s about it.   I keep it simple.