Monday, November 01, 2010

2010 NIV: Nicely Improved Version

We haven't read the whole thing, just a key chapter suggested by a colleague. But that by itself suggests that the 2010 revision of the New International Version is a significant improvement on its influential predecessor.

By all accounts, the most theologically objectionable feature of the old NIV was its habitual translation of sarx ("flesh") in Paul's letters as "sinful nature" when the term is used in its nuanced, distinctively Pauline sense. Many, including SWNID, objected that this attempt to avoid the un-Pauline impression that evil resides in physicality instead suggested a very specific--and to the SWNIDish mind utterly unbiblical--dogma of innate human depravity.

Well, the 2010 NIV restores the complex Pauline metaphor to its rightful standing. It's "flesh" consistently. Three cheers for that!

On a lesser matter, we offer three cheers for the rendering of Romans 8:16: "The Spirit himself testifies with [emphasis inserted] our spirit that we are God’s children. " The old NIV, with most English versions, assumed the sense of synmartureo with the dative as indicating an indirect object; hence the prior translation "testifies to." Compelling evidence indicates, however, that the dative comes under the influence of the verb's prepositional prefix.* So now readers can make sense of this text. The Spirit doesn't tell us that we are God's children; rather, the Spirit agrees with us in telling God that we're his.

We hope that such improvements will ameliorate the rage of those who think that "brothers and sisters" as a rendering for adelphoi is somehow dangerous, which it isn't.

So, six cheers--three loud and three moderate--for the 2010 NIV. We'll offer more observations as we have opportunity.

*We'd like to think that the unpublished paper we wrote on this subject in 1983, using an early version of GRAMCORD, influenced this happy outcome. But we are realistic enough to realize that others simply arrived at our conclusion independently.


Christian said...

Does it still use the transliteration baptize instead of actually translating the Greek?

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

Don't get greedy: they adhered to tradition. On a more realistic front, we are slightly disappointed that 1 Peter 3:21 still reads "pledge" instead of "request."

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

PS: two "sinful natures" remain in Romans 7. Weird.

RobHu said...

I thought you and your readers might find it useful to know that I’ve just put up some pages that show how similar the NIV2011 is to the NIV1984 and the TNIV. My pages also show each verse where the NIV2011 differs from the NIV1984 or the TNIV in an easily read / clear manner.

The pages are online @

I’d appreciate any comments or suggestions if anyone has any. Please either email me or leave a comment on my blog post

Thank you,

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

No surprise that 2010 = TNIV. When Pope James Dobson called the TNIV nasty due to gender, it was dead commercially. Zondervan does not want to concede gender inclusivity to NRSV et al. And they shouldn't.

Once upon a time one could read online an article from the Christian Standard by one of our most favoritest authors, entitled "TNIV: Terrible, Nefarious, Insidious Version?" Answer was "no."