Christianity,  Theology/Bible

Marvin Olasky on NIV 2011

Marvin Olasky editorializes in World magazine about the new NIV 2011.

Although Zondervan does not reveal overall stats, its Bible market share is probably less than half what it was in 1997… I doubt that the new NIV will win back readers from other translations. For the record, blogger John Dyer found that 91 percent of the words in the new NIV, expected to hit bookstores in March, are unchanged from the old version. Most-removed words: “He,” “his,” or “him” 2,700 times, “man” or “men” 1,600 times, and “fathers,” “forefathers,” or “brothers” 500 times.

Olasky concludes his article by saying that he is not a fan of the NIV 2011. Whatever improvements have been made, the cons still outweigh the pros. You can read the rest here. I will have my own stats to add to this discussion very soon.


  • Donald Johnson

    Talk about skewed reporting.

    It does seems like seeking after a Bible translation that can be used by all believers is a pipe dream and I think this is a tragedy.

  • Mark

    I’m glad that Dr. Olasky reviewed this so-called new and improved NIV. It’s so sad that many professing Christians today think that being politically correct is the way to go when it comes to Bible translations.

    As I read more reports about the new NIV other translations like the ESV, HCSB, and NASB95 look more and more attractive.

  • Ryan

    Don we had one that was pretty much universally used by all believers; the original NIV.

    It was Zondervan’s choice to change it that has led to much of where we are now.

  • Kamilla

    “pretty much universally used by all believers”

    That’s a bit myopic, don’t you think Ryan? Try “used by the majority of American Evengalicals” instead, please.

  • Donald Johnson

    Claiming the new NIV is “politically correct” is simply wrong. One might disagree with some translation choices, but they were believers trying to do a faithful job.

    Biblia had done studies showing the old NIV was misunderstood by the younger generations. English had moved on since it was written.

    For example, “they” is thought to always be plural for 8-11% of the population, mostly older folks. As Shakespeare used it in the singular, I find no problem with a singular they and Dobson used it in his books until it was pointed out to him.

  • Ryan


    Don’t think my comment was nearsighted, or lacking tolerance, which is why myopic means:)

    My point was simple and I think correct that the NIV was largely the standard for the last couple of decades across evangelicalism.

    Bible sales from the last few decades reflect this truth.

  • Kamilla


    There is a difference between “all believers” and “evangelicals” which was the point of my comment and which you seem to recognize in your response with your change of terms.


  • Sue

    Here is an example of “he” and “his” left out in the NIV 2010 in 1 Tim. 5:8.

    Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. NIV 2010

    But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. ESV

    I think it is worth mentioning that many, if not most, of the “he’s” and “his’s” which have been left out of the NIV 2010, are not there in the Greek.

    εἰ δέ τις τῶν ἰδίων καὶ μάλιστα οἰκείων οὐ προνοεῖ, τὴν πίστιν ἤρνηται καὶ ἔστιν ἀπίστου χείρων.

    My heart cries for the truth. The NIV 2010 has NOT removed any references to the masculine in the original Greek. The ESV has inserted three masculine pronouns in English.

  • Donald Johnson

    I think all translations lose something, none are perfect. Some are less perfect than others. All translation involves interpretation as there are always word choices made. Faithful people can differ.

    What I want is for a translation to get reasonably close to what the text in the original says, so that the text in its original language can be discussed in more detail as needed.

    So I use a lot of translations. I like the ESV for some purposes and the NIV for other purposes. I even use the KJV sometimes, as what was considered PC back then was different in some ways than today, so sometimes it is very accurate.

  • Derek

    It is fair to call the TNIV and its numerous spinoffs politically correct because those who are oriented towards a gender neutral worldview champion the TNIV and NRSV. They consider both translations to be a major breakthrough, but conservatives are denounced for noticing this and for being concerned about accommodation to cultural trends?

  • John

    I’ve seen a lot of translation bashing in the past and it looks like it will continue until the Lord returns. I do not read any of the original languages and so rely on English translations to read God’s Word. My question for the experts concerns the word translated ‘brothers’, especially in the NT. I had always thought that ‘brothers’ refered to all believers, not just male ones. Is that true? If so, then why not translate the word ‘brothers and sisters’? It would seem that’s the way people talk today in English. If it only applies to male believers, then translate it as ‘male believers’ as to be less confusing. And I still do not understand why we can’t use the singular ‘they’. I read and hear it used all the time.

  • Donald Johnson

    In both Hebrew and Greek, the masculine plural form is used when the group is composed of all males all the way down to just 1 male and all the rest females; this is just grammar. So the Greek adelphos MIGHT mean (in today’s English) either (A) brothers or (B)brothers and sisters, depending on the actual people making up the group.

    Some people want English to be used as it was in 1950, when masculine plural forms could include women. But English is defined by the way it is used and the majority do not use it that way now, except perhaps in slang.

    And when you couple that with the idea that some believers have that God treats males and females differently (males are to be over females), then this results in scans of Bible translations looking for changes from “he” to “they” and then declarations of PC-ness just from that, rather than investigating each decision and seeing if it makes sense, that is, if there is a reason to believe the group was all males or if it included females.

  • kate

    I must say, I do not understand such disagreement with using terms as “Brothers and sisters” rather than just “brother,” as does the TNIV and I am assuming the new NIV (although I haven’t checked yet. If the gender is not in the original, it seems to me an adequate translation. Add to that that the ESV, in its footnotes, notes that “brothers” means Brothers and sisters. Sounds hypocritical to me to argue against what is footnoted as the meaning. Just saying…

  • Sue


    You have asked a good question. Actually, adelphoi, which is the plural of adelphos (brother), typically means “siblings”.

    The word for “sister” is adelphe, and in the plural is adelphai. When any group of brothers and sisters are referred to, the word adelphoi is used.

    Adelphoi, translated as “brethren” in the King James Version, and as “brothers” in the ESV has the following usages:

    all members of any family
    all members of an ethnic group
    all members of a guild
    all members of church
    both the brothers and sisters in a family
    Cleopatra and Ptolemy
    Elektra and Orestes

    As you can see, it would be impossible to call Cleopatra and Ptolemy “brothers” in English.

    In my Greek Liddel lexicon, which dates from 1871, the only entry for adelphos in the plural is “brothers and sisters.”

    This predates the current political correctness. The reason for a new translation is to make the translation more accurate and a better representation of the original Greek.

    As far as I know, all changes in the NIV 2011 are in the direction of greater accuracy.

    I hope this helps.

  • paul

    Since I’m not a Bible translation student, I have to say, I’m a big fan of the New American Bible. Probably the most “lyrical” translation I’ve ever read. Not to mention, you get extra books that you just don’t get with the NIV. And I’m all about value for your dollar.

  • Kamilla


    I hope you aren’t holding your breath for the SBC to be placing a big order of the NAB anytime in the foreseeable future 😉


    I daresay that if all the translators of these numerous new versions had changed a few brothers to brothers and sisters, there would be a whole lot less fuss. Trouble is, that little promise has been a lie from the beginning. Check out Psalm 1:1 in any of them, especially the NIVI 1996, the critter that started it all.

  • Sue

    In Exodus 36, where it says וְכֹל אִישׁ there is agreement that אִישׁ refers to both men and women, every one of those who created furnishings and fabric for the tabernacle. There is agreement that אִישׁ does not necessarily have a gendered meaning in this and other contexts.

    There is no lie here. While it is certain that adelphoi means “brothers and sisters” there is ambiguity concerning the meaning of ish in many contexts.

  • kate


    are you saying that by changing “man” in Psalm 1 to “Blessed are those who do not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but who delight in the law of the LORD and meditate on his law day and night. They are like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.” changes the intent of the Psalm? Is it really only supposed to apply to men? Do we women get a pass on that? I do not think that God intended us to think it does not apply to the female gender, but to all people.

    Am I wrong?

  • Kamilla


    Don’t play your oily little games with me. First, you know very well there is good reason to refer specifically to Psalm 1:1 in this instance. And, unless you were there in 1997 to hear Cathie Kroeger and Stan Gundry speak to a packed house at the CBE conference, you dont’ know what lies have been told about these translations.


    Seriously? If I don’t go through and change every possible reference to make sure you feel included, you don’t think the principles apply to you? There is a reason Psalm 1:1, in particular, should be left in the singular. Think about it. (hint: who do you think is the exemplar of Psalm 1:1ff?)


  • Sue

    “And, unless you were there in 1997 to hear Cathie Kroeger and Stan Gundry speak to a packed house at the CBE conference, you dont’ know what lies have been told about these translations.”

    I think that a comment like this needs evidence.

  • Sue

    I know that you are refering to Christ for Ps. 1:1. However, it turns out that Christ is also referred to in some passages that have adam in them, and some that have enosh and some that have bar enosh, and so on.

    There is nothing at all to say that Christ is not a person, he is. He can be ish, adam, enosh, or son of enosh. There is nothing that says that Christ is not both a “man” AND a “person.”

    There is nothing emasculating orneutering in calling someone a person, or a human being. When the Greek uses anthropos for Christ, it is an indication that he is fully human. And women are also fully human. This is a reference to the species that Christ has become for our sake.

    It would be different if Ps. 1:1 were changed in such a way that the application to Christ could not be made. But I see that Christ is called anthropos in the NT, and even the ESV translates anthropos as “person” from time to time. Nobody is denying the humanity of Christ here.

    ἀπεκρίθη Ἰωάννης καὶ εἶπεν, Οὐ δύναται ἄνθρωπος λαμβάνειν οὐδὲ ἓν ἐὰν μὴ ᾖ δεδομένον αὐτῷ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ.

  • Kamilla

    By the way — John Chrysostom, Ambrose of Milan, Cyril of Alexandria and Augustine all held that Psalm 1:1 is a reference to Christ.

    From the Orthodox Study Bible:

    “The Man in Ps. 1 is the Lord Jesus Christ (John Chrysostom, Ambrose of Milan, Cyril of Alexandria, Augustine and Cassian). Thus, the Incarnation sets the tone of Psalms and in the Psalms the Incarnate Lord teaches his Church how to pray. This is why Psalms is the prayer book of the Church. Ps. 1 presents how Jesus lived his life in the world by showing the contrast between his godly life and the life of the ungodly. The Church, then, is to follow his example: his behavior in relation to the ungodly (v.1); his zeal for the truth (v.2) and his holy and virtuous life (v.3).”


  • kate

    Wow, Kamilla. I really think your point could be made without derogatory/condescending comments. My comments/questions were respectful.

    I’ll end my comments here as I have no wish to be spoken to in this manner.

  • kate

    OK, maybe one more comment(or comments) from my seminary references on Logos regarding PSALM 1:1

    THE COUNSEL OF THE UNGODLY If we replace the word ‘counsel’ with the word ‘advice’, we quickly get to the nub of the matter. The righteous person does not govern his life on the basis of bad advice from bad people. (Ellsworth, R. (2006). Opening up Psalms (29). Leominster: Day One Publications.)

    The psalmist begins with the character and condition of a godly man, that those may first take the comfort of that to whom it belongs. (Henry, M. (1996). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible : Complete and unabridged in one volume (Ps 1:1–3). Peabody: Hendrickson.)

    Psalm 1 is a fitting introduction for the Psalter in that it summarizes the two ways open to mankind, the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. It may be classified as a wisdom psalm because of its emphasis on these two ways of life, the use of the similes, the announcement of blessing, and the centrality of the Law for fulfillment in life. The motifs in this psalm recur again and again throughout the collection.
    The psalm describes the blessed man who leads an untarnished and prosperous life in accord with the Word of the Lord, and contrasts him with the ungodly who shall perish. (Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Ps 1:1). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.)

    The use of “man” in biblical literature refers to persons in general, here any believer who is trying to live in obedience to God. (Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (789). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.)

    The theme of this psalm is the happiness of the godly and the judgment of the ungodly. Verse 1 can be translated, “O the happinesses of the man.” No matter where we turn in the Bible, we find that God gives joy to the obedient (even in the midst of trial) and ultimately sorrow to the disobedient. God sees but two persons in this world: the godly, who are “in Christ,” and the ungodly, who are “in Adam.”
    (Wiersbe, W. W. (1993). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the Old Testament (Ps 1:1). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.)

    So I go back to my point that all of makind should follow the advice of this Psalm.

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