Thursday, September 03, 2009

NIV revision

In their ultimate consumer marketing campaign the publishers and
translators of the New International Version have decided to do their
best to upstage the Authorised (King James) Version by publishing a
new revision in 2011 see website "It is fitting
that the new edition of the NIV Bible will be coming out in 2011, the
year which marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Version,"
said Douglas Moo. "Our goal in the NIV Bible translation mirrors that
of the 17th Century translators themselves: to produce a Bible that
removes all unnecessary obstacles to comprehension by drawing on the
best available scholarship". This is of course marketing speak; the
principles adopted by the AV translators and those of the NIV could
hardly be greater. Gerald Hammond pointed out that "while the
Renaissance Bible translator saw half of his task as reshaping English
so that it could adapt itself to Hebraic idiom, the modern translator
wants to make no demands on the language he translates into".

The attempt to chase the mirage of contemporary idiom and the need for
publishers to profit from new products has meant the frequent revision
of translations such as the NIV. Keith Danby, Global President and CEO
of Biblica said: "we are recommitting ourselves today to the original
NIV charter, complete with its charge to monitor and reflect
developments in English usage and Biblical scholarship by periodically
updating the NIV Bible text. As time passes and English changes, the
NIV we have at present is becoming increasingly dated. If we want a
Bible that English speakers around the world can understand, we have
to listen to, and respect, the vocabulary they are using today."

Moo gives an example of the changes that are required. "In the 1984
NIV when Paul says (in 2 Corinthians 11:25) 'I was stoned,' we changed
it to 'pelted with stones' to avoid the laughter in the junior high
row of the church." The assumption is that (as Gerald Hammond puts
it), "a modern Bible should aim not to tax its readers' linguistic or
interpretative abilities one bit. If this aim is to be achieved then
it seems likely that a new Bible will have to be produced for every
generation - each one probably moving us further away from the
original text, now that the initial break has been made". On cue the
NIV is now being revised 25 years after the 1984 edition.

One of the NIV's best kept secrets is that it is actually full of
archaic and difficult vocabulary as the list at the following site
shows A comparison of
these words in context will show that the AV has actually in many
cases used a less difficult word such as Eph 6:4 "provoke" rather than
"exasperate" (NIV). See also the list at the bottom of this post.

The new edition will replace both the 1984 NIV and the 2005
gender-neutral TNIV. There is a bit of obfuscation in the official
position as to whether the new edition will be gender neutral or not
and if so to what extent. For the 2011 edition, more than a dozen
scholars will "review every single gender-related decision we have
made and make sure we are putting God's unchanging word into English
people are actually using," says Douglas Moo, chairman of the
Committee on Bible Translation. "I can't predict what will happen with
gender usage. My guess would be we made a lot of the right decisions
for the T-NIV but every one of those is open for consideration. We may
even be returning to what we had in the 1984 NIV". Noone really
believes that this will be the case, however, they are simply trying
to keep their market appeal to those who might be swayed towards
either the NRSV or NLT on the one hand and the ESV, NASB on the other.

Moo notes that marketing the bible for profit isn't always easy, you
have to launch a revision at the right time: "We recognize at the same
time that people often will buy a Bible, they will use it as their
Bible, they'll memorize it, churches will buy Bibles to put in their
pews, and I think we have to balance very carefully the need to keep
the Bible up to date in terms of where English is with the reality
that people don't want to have to be buying new Bibles every two or
three years".

Fresh from last year's 30th anniversary marketing campaign Zondervan
are keen to maintain their market dominance as their President
enthuses. "We are tremendously excited about this initiative and we
wholeheartedly support our colleagues from Biblica and the CBT as they
work again with the same recipe that made the NIV the most popular
Bible translation in the world," said Zondervan President Moe Girkins.
"Since its first publication in 1978, more than 300 million copies of
the NIV have found their way into the hands and heart of people
worldwide...We are going to take great care to prepare our customers
for this new edition."

Ironically the NIV marketers are using the anniversary of a bible
version which has stood the test of 400 years to launch a revision of
a bible version that has hardly lasted 25. Never mind its popularity
or whether it needs updating - to use Richard Bacon's article title -
the NIV is still simply a bad translation.

NIV Difficult vocabulary list
abashed, abominable, abutted, acclaim, adder, adhere, admonishing,
advocate, alcove, algum, allocate, allots, ally, aloes, appease,
ardent, armlets, arrayed, astir, atonement, awl, banishment,
battlements, behemoth, belial, bereaves, betrothed, bier, blighted,
booty, brayed, breaching, breakers, buffeted, burnished, calamus,
capital (not a city), carnelian, carrion, centurions, chasm, chronic,
chrysolite, cistern, citadel, citron, clefts, cohorts, colonnades,
complacency, coney, concession, congealed, conjure, contrite,
convocations, crest, cors, curds, dandled, dappled, debauchery,
decimated, deluged, denarii, depose, derides, despoil,
dire,dispossess, disrepute, dissipation, distill, dissuade,
divination, dragnet, dropsy, duplicity, earthenware, ebony,
emasculate, emission, encroach, enmity, enthralled, entreaty, ephod,
epicurean, ewe, excrement, exodus, factions, felled, festal, fettered,
figurehead, filigree, flagstaff, fomenting, forded, fowler, gadfly,
galled, gird, gauntness, gecko, gloating, goiim, harrowing, haunt,
hearld, henna, homers, hoopoe, ignoble, impaled, implore, incur,
indignant, insatiable, insolence, intact, invoked, jambs, joists,
jowls, lairs, lamentation, leviathan, libations, loins, magi,
manifold, maritime, mattocks, maxims, mina, misdemeanor,
mother-of-pearl, mustering, myrtles, naive, naught, Negev, Nephilim,
nettles, nocturnal, nomad, notorious, Nubians, oblivion, obsolete,
odious, offal, omer, oracles, overweening, parapet, parchments,
pavilion, peals (noun, not the verb), perjurers, perpetuate,
pestilence, pinions, phylacteries, plumage, pomp, porphyry, portent,
potsherd, proconsul, propriety, poultice, Praetorium, pretext,
profligate, promiscuity, provincial, providence, qualm, quarries,
quivers (noun, not verb), ramparts, ransacked, ratified, ravish,
rabble, rawboned, relish (not for hotdogs), recoils, recount, refrain,
relent, rend, reposes, reprimanded, reputed, retinue, retorted,
retribution, rifts, roebucks, rue, sachet, satraps, sated,
shipwrights, siegeworks, sinews, sistrums, sledges, smelted, somber,
soothsayer, sovereignty, spelt, stadia, stench, stipulation, sullen,
tamarisk, tanner, temperate, tether, tetrarch, terebinth, thresher,
throes, thronged, tiaras, tinder, tracts, transcends, tresses,
turbulent, tyrannical, unscathed, unrelenting, usury, vassal, vaunts,
vehemently, verdant, vexed, wadi, wanton, warranted, wield, winnowing
and wrenched.