My old bible, which was a beloved NIV Study Bible from 1985 (well, the 10th anniversary edition of it) has now been replaced with a newer version of–yes–the NIV. I know that the NIV might not be the most accurate translation. A dynamic translation opens the door for bias. I know it is definitely an evangelical translation of the Bible. But having read that version of the Bible the majority of my life, I know it. There are vast portions that I have memorized simply by having read it so frequently. And I like it. I have an ongoing relationship with that translation. Yes, there are portions of that translation that I think are mistakes– some of which outrage me (although in general, I appreciate the manner in which the notes often describe multiple perspectives on a passage). But those translational differences spur me to look into the original languages and alternative interpretations. Admittedly, I remember a Christian comic strip suggesting it’s the preferred translation of people who were popular in high school, which I decidedly was not, rather than the translation of academics. But then again, I did not do my research the latest edition of the NIV, which, to my surprise, has quite a few changes.
My new Bible is a beautiful NIV Study Bible with an updated translation from 2011. This bible was a gift, but I had requested this translation. I love the color of the binding. I love that it has incorporated new colored graphics of archeological finds and artwork from late antiquity, medieval Europe, and the Renaissance. I am not sure that the choice in artwork truly contributes to it being international; I would say the artwork is primarily from Europe, but I like it because it is my own cultural heritage. The updated charts are definitely better. And the concordance and cross-referencing system are still a valuable resource. Regrettably, there is still a definite ultra-conservative bias if ever so subtle. For example, for Gen. 2:18, neither edition cross-references the multiple scriptures using the term “helper” to describe God even though that is a key term in that verse, yet both editions list Prov. 31:11, 1 Cor. 11:9, and 1 Tim. 2:13. At least I find the NIV notes sightly more inclusive of various perspectives than say, the ESV Study Bible. (I generally love the translation of the ESV, but the notes in the ESV Study Bible are decidedly complementarian.)
But here is the thing: the translation has more changes than I expected. I knew my 1985 NIV Study Bible so well that I can pick out the differences of this new translation in both the notes and the actual scripture! I like the updated notes. But I am not as keen about the new wording of the actual bible. Part of the reason why I chose to stick with the NIV was because I had it memorized. Now, the newer version is a whole new translation. It’s not the NIV that I know. I mean, some of these changes really are for the better. People don’t say, “O Mother, how are you this morning?” We drop the big O, and so did this newer NIV (among other changes). But my purpose for having the NIV translation is defeated. I might as well have tried some other translation since I cannot read a passage and have it be word for word the same as what I have internalized over the years. Someone should have done more research before adding “NIV Study Bible” to her Christmas wish list! In my defense, I knew that the NIV Study Bible had embarked on updating the translation with some updates, particularly with more accurate and inclusive language, but I thought that the newer editions with such significant changes would have a different name. (My ignorance is ever a source of amazement to me.)
Oh, well. I am going to try to milk as much as I can from the new edition. I am going to use any extra disgruntled energy to do what I should do more often: compare it with my Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament and online Hebrew-English bible to translate it myself. And I can always look up additional cross-references. So here is to a new year with a new bible! And it is pretty spiffy. And I am thankful for having any translation of this collection of ancient writings. And I am thankful for generous parents who gave me the NIV Study Bible as I requested. And I am thankful to all the contributors to the NIV. I appreciate the trans-denominational cooperation among Protestants. I appreciate all the scholarship and tools this publication provides, even when it leans too far complementarian. I might even like the fact that it’s too conservative for me. It keeps me on my toes, ready to search out the matter.
And I am a sucker for pretty binding. I love it!