New International Version
Image of an NIV Bible
NT published1973
Complete Bible
Textual basis
Translation typeDynamic equivalence[3]
Reading level7.8[4]
Version revision1984, 2011
CopyrightThe Holy Bible, New International Version, NIV

Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.

Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copies printed450,000,000[5]
Religious affiliationEvangelical[3]
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

The New International Version (NIV) is a translation of the Bible into contemporary English. Published by Biblica, the complete NIV was released in 1978 with a minor revision in 1984 and a major revision in 2011. The NIV relies on recently-published critical editions of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts.[1][2]

Biblica claims that "the NIV delivers the very best combination of accuracy and readability."[6] As of March 2013, over 450 million printed copies of the translation had been distributed.[5] The NIV is the best-selling translation in the United States.[7]



In 1955, businessman Howard Long was convinced of the need for a contemporary English translation of the Bible while sharing the gospel with a business associate. He was unhappy with the King James Version that he used to communicate the gospel and was frustrated with its archaic language. He thought, "Everywhere I go, in Canada, the U.S., anywhere, there are people who would like to read their Bible to their children at night. And they don't have something the children can grasp." He shared the frustration with his pastor, Reverend Peter DeJong. Inspired by the need for a Bible in contemporary English, the two men petitioned their denomination, Christian Reformed Church (CRC). After initial rejection and deferral, the CRC endorsed a committee to investigate the issue in 1957.[8]

The NIV began with the formation of a small committee to study the value of producing a translation in the common language of the American people and a project of the National Association of Evangelicals in 1957.[9][10] In 1964, a joint committee of representatives from the Christian Reformed Church and National Association of Evangelicals issued invitations to a translation conference, which met in August 1965 at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois, and made two key decisions. The first was that "a contemporary English translation of the Bible should be undertaken as a collegiate endeavor of evangelical scholars." The second was that a "continuing committee of fifteen" should be established to move the work forward. The "committee of fifteen" was ultimately named the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT), and the "Contemporary English Translation" became the NIV.[11][12]

In 1967, the New York Bible Society (now called Biblica) took responsibility for the project and hired a team of 15 scholars from various Evangelical Christian denominations and from various countries.[13][9] The initial "Committee on Bible Translation" consisted of Leslie Carlson, Edmund Clowney, Ralph Earle, Jr., Burton L. Goddard, R. Laird Harris, Earl S. Kalland, Kenneth Kantzer, Robert H. Mounce, Charles F. Pfeiffer, Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Francis R. Steele, John H. Stek, J. C. Wenger, Stephen W. Paine, and Marten Woudstra. The New Testament was released in 1973 and the full Bible in 1978.[9] A UK version was also released to accommodate differences between American English and British English.[14]

The NIV underwent a minor revision in 1984.

Inclusive-language editions

In 1995, a new version of the New Testament and Psalms was published in the UK, and the full Bible followed in 1996 as the New International Version Inclusive Language Edition, but it was not published in the US because of opposition from conservative evangelical groups there to gender-neutral language.[15] A further edition with minor edits was published in 1999.

A revised English edition, Today's New International Version (TNIV), again used gender-neutral language and was released as a New Testament in March 2002, with the complete Bible being published in February 2005.[16]

2011 update

In 2011, an updated version of the NIV was released, with both the 1984 version and the TNIV being discontinued.[17]

The update modified and dropped some of the gender-neutral language compared to TNIV, which included going back to using "mankind" and "man," rather than "human beings" and "people."[18][19][20] Keith Danby, the president and chief executive officer of Biblica, speaking of the TNIV, said that they had failed to convince people that revisions were needed and that they had underestimated their readers' loyalty to the 1984 edition.[15]

Derivative versions

Plain English version (NIrV)

An easier to read version, New International Reader's Version (NIrV), was published in 1996. It was written at a third-grade reading level, to enable those with limited English literacy levels, the ability to read the Bible.[21]

Spanish version (NVI)

In 1979, the decision was made to produce a version of the New Testament in Spanish with the title La Santa Biblia, Nueva Versión Internacional (often abbreviated NVI),[22] but that version was based only on the former English translation of the historic manuscripts. In 1990, the committee on Bible translation headed by Drs. René Padilla and Luciano Jaramillo conducted a translation of both testaments from the historic manuscripts directly into Spanish, bypassed English altogether, and produced a complete Spanish NVI Bible in 1999.[23]

Portuguese version (NVI)

In 2001, the Nova Versão Internacional in Portuguese was published.[24]

Textual basis

The manuscript base for the Old Testament was the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia Masoretic Hebrew Text. Other ancient texts consulted were the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion, the Latin Vulgate, the Syriac Peshitta, the Aramaic Targum, and for the Psalms the Juxta Hebraica of Jerome.[25] The manuscript base for the New Testament was the Koine Greek language editions of the United Bible Societies and of Nestle-Aland.[26] The deuterocanonical books are not included in the translation.

Translation methodology

The core translation group consisted of fifteen Biblical scholars using Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts whose goal was to produce a more modern English language text than the King James Version. The translation took ten years and involved a team of over 100 scholars[27][28] from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. The range of those participating included many different denominations such as Anglicans, Catholic, Assemblies of God, Baptist, Christian Reformed, Lutheran and Presbyterian.[29]

The NIV is a balance between word-for-word and thought-for-thought or literal and phrase-by-phrase translations.[30]

Recent archaeological and linguistic discoveries helped in understanding passages that have traditionally been difficult to translate. Familiar spellings of traditional translations were generally retained.[31]


According to the Association for Christian Retail (CBA), the New International Version has become the most popular selling English translation of the Bible in CBA bookstores, having sold more than 450 million copies worldwide.[5]

There are numerous study Bibles available with extensive notes on the text and background information to make the Biblical stories more comprehensible. Among these are the NIV Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible, Concordia Study Bible, the Zondervan published NIV Study Bible, the Wesleyan revision, Reflecting God Study Bible, as well as the Life Application Study Bible.

In 2009, the New Testament scholar N. T. Wright wrote that the NIV obscured what Paul the Apostle was saying and ensured that Paul's words conformed to Protestant and Evangelical tradition. He claimed, "if a church only, or mainly, relies on the NIV it will, quite simply, never understand what Paul was talking about," especially in Galatians and Romans.[32]

In support of that claim, Wright specifically mentioned several verses of Romans 3, which he suggested not to convey how "righteousness" refers to the covenant faithfulness of God or reflect his own thinking about the pistis Christou debate. All editions of the NIV have given "God's Faithfulness" as the heading for Romans 3:1–8. Wright's specific objections concerning verses later in the chapter no longer apply to the 2011 revision of the NIV, which moreover offers "the faithfulness of Jesus Christ" as an alternative translation to "faith in Jesus Christ" in Romans 3:22.

Mark Given, a professor of religious studies at Missouri State University, criticized the NIV for "several inaccurate and misleading translations" since many sentences and clauses are paraphrased, rather than translated from Hebrew and Greek.[33]

Michael Marlowe, a scholar in biblical languages, criticized as "indefensible" the footnote provided in the NIV for 1 Corinthians 11:4–7, which replaced multiple instances of "head covering" with "long hair" to "harmonize this passage with modern habits of dress."[34] Church historian David Bercot, whose focus is early Christianity, likewise deemed the footnote a "fanciful interpretation" that "is in no way an alternate translation of the Greek text."[35]

Others have also criticized the NIV. In Genesis 2:19, a translation such as the New Revised Standard Version uses "formed" in the simple past tense: "So out of the ground the LORD God formed every animal." Some have questioned the NIV's choice to use the pluperfect: "Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals" to try to make it appear that the animals had already been created.[36] Theologian John Sailhamer stated, "Not only is such a translation [...] hardly possible [...] but it misses the very point of the narrative, namely, that the animals were created in response to God's declaration that it was not good that the man should be alone."[37]

Biblical scholar Bruce M. Metzger criticized the NIV 1984 edition[38] for the addition of "just" into Jeremiah 7:22 in which the verse becomes "For when I brought your forefathers/ancestors out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices." Metzger also criticized[38] the addition of "your" into Matthew 13:32, which becomes "Though it [the mustard seed] is the smallest of all your seeds." The word your was removed from that verse in the 2011 revision.[39]

2011 revision

Professor of New Testament Studies Daniel B. Wallace[40] praised the 2011 update and called it "a well-thought out translation, with checks and balances through rigorous testing, overlapping committees to ensure consistency and accuracy, and a publisher willing to commit significant resources to make this Bible appealing to the Christian reader."[41] The Southern Baptist Convention rejected the 2011 update because of gender-neutral language[42] although the update had dropped some gender-neutral language of the 2005 revision.[18]

Southern Baptist publisher LifeWay declined the Southern Baptist Convention's censor request to remove the NIV from its stores.[43] While the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod rejected its use,[44] some in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) believe many of the translations changes are right and defensible.[45]

Professor of New Testament Studies Rodney J. Decker wrote in the Themelios Journal review of the NIV 2011:[46]

By taking a mediating position between formal and functional equivalence (though tending, I think, closer to the formal end of the spectrum), the NIV has been able to produce a text that is clearer than many translations, especially those weighted more heavily with formal equivalence ... If we are serious about making the word of God a vital tool in the lives of English-speaking Christians, then we must aim for a translation that communicates clearly in the language of the average English-speaking person. It is here that the NIV excels. It not only communicates the meaning of God's revelation accurately, but does so in English that is easily understood by a wide range of English speakers. It is as well-suited for expository preaching as it is for public reading and use in Bible classes and children's ministries.

See also


  1. ^ The NIV is published by Zondervan in the United States, and Hodder & Stoughton in the United Kingdom.


  1. ^ a b "Preface". Biblia. Archived from the original on August 9, 2021. Retrieved August 9, 2021. For the Old Testament the standard Hebrew text, the Masoretic Text as published in the latest edition of Biblia Hebraica, has been used throughout. ... The Dead Sea Scrolls contain biblical texts that represent an earlier stage of the transmission of the Hebrew text. They have been consulted, as have been the Samaritan Pentateuch and the ancient scribal traditions concerning deliberate textual changes. The translators also consulted the more important early versions—the Greek Septuagint, Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion, the Latin Vulgate, the Syriac Peshitta, the Aramaic Targums, and for the Psalms, the Juxta Hebraica of Jerome.
  2. ^ a b "Preface". Biblia. Archived from the original on August 9, 2021. Retrieved August 9, 2021. The Greek text used in translating the New Testament is an eclectic one, based on the latest editions of the Nestle-Aland/United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament.
  3. ^ a b "Bible Translation Spectrum". Logos Bible Software Wiki. Archived from the original on January 7, 2023. Retrieved January 7, 2023.
  4. ^ "The New International Reader's Version: What, Who, and Why". International Society of Bible Collectors. April 2000. Archived from the original on October 14, 2014. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Menzie, Nicola (March 26, 2013). "NIV More Popular Than KJV, NLT Bibles; 11 Million Copies Sold Worldwide". The Christian Post. Archived from the original on December 28, 2022. Retrieved December 28, 2022.
  6. ^ "About the NIV Bible Translation". Biblica. Archived from the original on December 28, 2022. Retrieved December 28, 2022.
  7. ^ "ECPA Bible Translation Bestsellers, Best of 2021". Christian Book Expo. Archived from the original on December 28, 2022. Retrieved December 28, 2022.
  8. ^ "Howard Long". NIV Bible. Zondervan.
  9. ^ a b c Alec Gilmore, A Concise Dictionary of Bible Origins and Interpretation, Bloomsbury Publishing, UK, 2006, p. 136.
  10. ^ Ronald F. Youngblood; Glen G. Scorgie; Mark L. Strauss; Steven M. Voth, eds. (2003). The Challenge of Bible Translation: Communicating God's Word to the World. Zondervan. pp. 236–245. ISBN 0-310-24685-7. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  11. ^ "We Still Don't Get It" (PDF). Retrieved September 21, 2023.
  12. ^ "Doug Moo on Bible Translation". NIV Bible.
  13. ^ Jim Ruark, The House of Zondervan: Celebrating 75 Years, Zondervan, USA, 2011, p. 152.
  14. ^ "New International Version Preface (1983)". Retrieved September 12, 2023.
  15. ^ a b "Update of popular 'NIV' Bible due in 2011". USA Today. September 1, 2009. Retrieved September 20, 2011.
  16. ^ Phan, Katherine T. (March 13, 2011). "New NIV Bible to Debut Amid Ongoing Concern". The Christian Post. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
  17. ^ Grossman, Cathy Lynn (September 1, 2009). "Update of popular 'NIV' Bible due in 2011". USA Today. Retrieved May 25, 2010. Maureen Girkins, president of Zondervan, says the 'divisive' TNIV and 'cherished' 1984 NIV will not be published after the newest NIV comes out.
  18. ^ a b Smietana, Bob. "New Bible drops gender-neutral language of '05 version". USA Today. Gannett Co. Inc. Retrieved July 30, 2015. But they also made changes – like going back to using words like "mankind" and "man" instead of "human beings" and "people" – in order to appease critics.
  19. ^ "Updated NIV Text Available for Online Viewing November 1". Zondervan. October 18, 2010. Archived from the original on March 11, 2011. Retrieved February 9, 2011.
  20. ^ World's most popular Bible to be revised, NBC News, September 1, 2009, archived from the original on February 15, 2020, retrieved February 19, 2011.
  21. ^ "About the NIrV - NIV Bible | New International Readers Version". NIV Bible. Retrieved April 26, 2024.
  22. ^ "Nueva Versión Internacional – Version Information –".
  23. ^ John Riches, The New Cambridge History of the Bible: Volume 4, From 1750 to the Present, Cambridge University Press, UK, 2012, p. 453.
  24. ^ Joel Morales Cruz, The Histories of the Latin American Church: A Handbook, Augsburg Fortress Publishers, USA, 2014, p. 49.
  25. ^ Irwin, Ben (2002). History of the English Bible (PDF). Zondervan. p. 61. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 31, 2008.
  26. ^ Barker, Kenneth L. (1991). The NIV The Making of a Contemporary Translation. International Bible Society. p. 54.
  27. ^ "About the NIV".
  28. ^ "History of the New International Version". Retrieved February 9, 2011.
  29. ^ Irwin, Ben (2002). History of the English Bible (PDF). Zondervan. p. 60. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 31, 2008.
  30. ^ "Bible Translation Chart" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 6, 2011. Retrieved February 9, 2011.
  31. ^ "Background of the New International Version (NIV) Bible". "Although archaeological and linguistic discoveries in this century aid in understanding difficult passages", "As for other proper nouns, the familiar spellings of the King James Version are generally retained" Paragraphs 14 & 17.
  32. ^ "In this context, I must register one strong protest against one particular translation. When the New International Version was published in 1980, I was one of those who hailed it with delight. I believed its own claim about itself, that it was determined to translate exactly what was there, and inject no extra paraphrasing or interpretative glosses. This contrasted so strongly with the then popular New English Bible, and promised such an advance over the then rather dated Revised Standard Version, that I recommended it to students and members of the congregation I was then serving. Disillusionment set in over the next two years, as I lectured verse by verse through several of Paul's letters, not least Galatians and Romans. Again and again, with the Greek text in front of me and the NIV beside it, I discovered that the translators had another principle, considerably higher than the stated one: to make sure that Paul should say what the broadly Protestant and evangelical tradition said he said. I do not know what version of scripture they use at Dr Piper's church. But I do know that if a church only, or mainly, relies on the NIV it will, quite simply, never understand what Paul was talking about." Wright, N. T. (2009). Justification : God's Plan and Paul's Vision. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic. pp. 51–52. ISBN 978-0-8308-3863-9.
  33. ^ Given, Mark D. (February 13, 2015). "A Discussion of Bible Translations and Biblical Scholarship". Missouri State University. Archived from the original on October 12, 2016. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  34. ^ Marlowe, Michael (2011). "The New International Version (NIV) – A History and Evaluation". Bible Research. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  35. ^ Bercot, David (1992). Common Sense: A New Approach to Understanding Scripture. Amberson: Scroll Publishing Co. p. 129. ISBN 9780924722066.
  36. ^ Mariottini, Claude F. (2013). Rereading the Biblical Text: Searching for Meaning and Understanding. Wipf and Stock. ISBN 978-1-62032-827-9.
  37. ^ Sailhamer, John H. (October 19, 1976). The Expositor's Bible Commentary. Vol. 2. Zondervan. ISBN 978-0-310-36440-5.
  38. ^ a b Metzger, Bruce M. (2001). The Bible in Translation: Ancient and English Versions. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-8010-2282-1. Retrieved July 30, 2011.
  39. ^ Matthew 13:32
  40. ^ "Daniel B. Wallace Faculty Page". Dallas Theological Seminary. Archived from the original on October 19, 2011. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  41. ^ Wallace, Dan. "A Review of the New International Version 2011". Archived from the original on March 27, 2012. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  42. ^ Stephanie Samuel. "LifeWay Tells Critics of 2011 NIV Bible: 'Trust the Trustees'". Retrieved July 30, 2015.
  43. ^ Marty King. "LifeWay to continue selling NIV; trustees select new leadership". Archived from the original on July 15, 2015. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  44. ^ Audrey Barrick. "Lutherans Latest to Reject New NIV Bible Over Gender Language". Retrieved September 5, 2012.
  45. ^ Kenneth A. Cherney, Jr. "Gender-Neutral Language, with Special Reference to NIV 2011" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on June 18, 2015. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  46. ^ Decker, Rodney J. (November 2011). "An Evaluation of the 2011 Edition of the New International Version" (PDF). Themelios. 36 (3): 447–448.