NIV 2011

Alright, so we’ve all heard by now that the NIV 2011 is online and that the translators’ notes are available.  I’ve just finished reading the notes and it seems like they’ve made some good improvements.  Most occurrences of σάρξ have been rendered flesh rather than sinful nature (see p. 8) which I know a lot of folks will be happy with.  I was never bothered by sinful nature because that’s always what I understood the KJV use of flesh in those passages to mean, but I’m fine with them translating it as the KJV has since the KJV is brilliant!  But I digress.  I appreciated this note on pp. 2-3 under the subheading “Progress in Scholarship”:

When the NIV was first translated, the meaning of the rare Greek word harpagmos, rendered ‟something to be grasped,” in Philippians 2:6 was uncertain. But further study has shown that the word refers to something that a person has in their possession but chooses not to use to their own advantage. The updated NIV reflects this new information, making clear that Jesus really was equal with God when he determined to become a human for our sake: ‟[Christ Jesus], being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage.”

I’m not too happy about their dropping “O”s from a number of vocatives (see p. 8).  I suspect that folks will have a more difficult time discerning vocatives without them.  Time will tell.  Gender language was obviously a big issue—so much so that it makes up 25% of the changes in the NIV 2011, that is, if I’m understanding this correctly:

In matters unrelated to gender language — which account for about 75 percent of the changes made from the 1984 NIV to the TNIV — the committee’s work has been further developed, and in places critiqued, for the updated NIV. Careful readers will notice many previously unseen enhancements to accuracy and readability in the new text alongside others that have already been seen in the TNIV. (p. 4)

I’ll look forward to getting a hard copy to peruse once they’re released.  I doubt I’ll spend much time with the online version.  I do wonder whether BW8 and Logos 4 (and I suppose Accordance should be included as well) will be able to offer the NIV 2011 as a free download in the near future.  Does anyone know anything about that?


33 thoughts on “NIV 2011

  1. Wow, hot off the presses! Thanks for the insight. Without having reviewed the updated version in its entirety it does sound like all the heated debate surrounding the TNIV is resulting in a quality update for the next generation. I still have my NIV Children’s Bible from 1981 and all of my teen and college years were versed in the NIV, so even though I study using the NASB, the NIV remains the language of my renewed mind.

  2. Um free download? Do you know who holds the copyright to the new NIV? Yep, the same company that caused the proliferation of versions like the ESV to be adopted not necessarily because they were better translations, but because they had much more reasonable licensing fees. Unless Z. has changed, don’t look for it. I am sure it will be offered in the future as an additional add on that can be purchased, but I wouldn’t look for it in the main products until each of them revamp to a new version.

    I’d like to be wrong, but I can almost guarantee it comes down to licensing fees.

  3. Jamie: I started with an NIV but moved soon thereafter to the KJV as my main translation so while it’s not wholly unfamiliar it’s not familiar enough that I’ll notice the changes in the 2011 edition.

    Mike: I don’t know much about the politics of Bible licensing and whatnot. I figured that since it was available for free online that the BibleWorks, Logos, and Accordance folks would have it for free too. I guess not.

  4. I don’t know all the ins and outs of licensing, but I have heard from people I know who work in other publishing houses that it’s always easier to use a text that ‘s not the NIV. The same kind of thing has been happening with the German Bible Society, which is why you don’t see the critical apparatus in every Bible program either. Time will tell, but I’m just advising you to set your expectations low to be surprised rather than the other way around ;-)

  5. I am very happy they were able to correct their mistake with sarx, I think I might have to pick up the “Evangelical’s” favorite, NIV ;-).

    I had a teacher in the past who tended to be KJV (only) — although not dogmatically (more for sentimental reasons) — he used to sarcastically (kind of) say before he would start teaching: “if any of you out there are NIV positive, you need to be healed by the KJV . . .” (or something like that). It worked on his audience, who were primarily taught that the majority text (and TR) were parallel with the original tongue ;-) (these were back in my Calvary Chapel days).

  6. Mike: I suppose that’s why e-Sword always charged for the NIV. I was aware of the problems with the German Bible Society. I’ve talked to a couple of folks who knew the inside scoop and a lot of what I was told was quite surprising and shameful.

    Bobby: I would have liked to have had that professor! I really do love the KJV more than any other translation but I use a variety to study with and my main reading translation has been the TNIV over the past few months. And I’ve yet to hear the argument for Byzantine priority that has been able to convince me, but then again, I’ve only heard one argument (Maurice Robinson’s)!

  7. Bobby: Thanks, I’ll check the site out. I’m a guy who likes as many texts as he can get his hands on. Not only for comparison, but also because I’m a collector of books.

  8. 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,

  9. No problem :-)

    I’ve significantly updated my NIV2011 comparison pages. I’ve improved the wording, fixed the colouring in of changes (and made it clearer), made some of the tables clearer, fixed some mistakes that made some of my numbers slightly off, and have added more explanatory text.

    Perhaps the biggest additions though are these two new pages:

    Top 250 added / removed words:

    Top 250 most changed verses:

    You can also look at the details of the changes within a book (this was always there, but some people didn’t realise), e.g.

    The start page itself can be found @

    It’s also worth knowing that John Dyer has made a series of similar (excellent) pages:


  10. I’ve just updated it again. The measure used for how different a verse is has been improved, and you can now see every instance of when a word has been added / removed.

    For instance here is the list of every time the word ‘humankind’ has been added or removed when going from the TNIV to the NIV2011:

    The full list of changed words can be found here:


  11. The NIV does not look too bad a first complaint is that of the headings e.g. Romans 3 Righteous by Faith surely this text is more than just that. I only feel at times for those without background in the Greek and Hebrew texts the editors are suggesting what the text should mean rather than allowing the text to speak for its self. However, Philippians 2:7 DOES NOT MEAN Jesus chose to be nothing as you say though I disagree harpagmos means possessing but rather more related to clinging. The article by N.T Wright on Philippians 2 in `Climax of the Covenant ` has the best discussion relating to the usage of the word. I have reservations concerning the hermeneutical understanding of the NIV editors. I cannot see how to experience the texts in the 21st C.E. as those original hearers, and which hearers as many Biblical texts have gone under centuries of editing. The best manner is to allow the text as it is written. As one philosopher suggested you cannot step in the same river twice which is what the NIV editors are attempting. I feel I will have to stay with the NRSV for the time being

  12. Robert: I’d be all for the publishers releasing these kinds of stats and even more for them publishing an apparatus included in the NIV 2011. Textual criticism is a discipline that reaches far beyond ancient manuscripts. Someday scholars will do the kind of work to the NIV that’s being done now to the KJV so it makes sense to stay ahead of the game.

    Andrew: Wright’s work is certainly top tier on this issue. I think I might say that Ralph Martin has the best discussion I’ve read to date on it though. That said, I’ll take any version of the NIV over the NRSV, which isn’t to say that I don’t like the NRSV (I do) but I don’t think it was much (if any at all) improvement on the RSV (although I will admit that it’s probably slightly better than the ESV).

  13. My computer generated comparison of the NIV2011 with the TNIV and NIV1984 has had many major updates:

    1. Greek text – now includes the SBLGNT with apparatus

    2. Hebrew text – HBS text included (experimental)

    3. Most changed verses list compared with both TNIV and NIV1984:

    4. List of (possible) proper noun changes:

    5. List of word changes relevant to the gender language debate:

    6. List of all words in text (warning: page is very large)

    Plus many many bug fixes, improvements in presentation, and other minor fixes.


  14. The NIV2011 has made some notable improvements over the original NIV.
    It isn’t perfect, but it is a very useful text. It, like all other versions will have
    detractors, but its worth as a translation must be determined on a passage
    by passage basis, carefully comparing it to the Hebrew and Greek texts.

    I look forward to reading the extensive list of reviews that are sure to come!
    Zondervan has published several editions of the large print thinline NIV2011.
    There appears to be a bit of marketing genius underlying their productions.
    I wish the publishers of the ESV would take note of Zondervan’s strategy
    in this regard.

  15. Ronnie: I have a thinline large print NIV2011 on the way. I’m looking forward to it.

    I think the ESV has had an extremely successful marketing campaign, especially when all those “Bible wars” were being fought between people.

  16. Nick: I have purchased several of the large print thinline NIV 2011 Bibles.
    I have the reference edition. It is wonderful in that the text is 10.5 and the
    font is clear and relatively dark. The center column references are very
    thorough. I also have the large print thinline without the references. The
    Bibles are in black bonded leather and black Italian Duo. The Italian Duo
    is very flexible and has a marvelous feel, and I was told that it will likely
    “out wear” the bonded leather!

    The footnotes are quite extensive and come off the page really well.
    The Bibles are lightweight, hands’ friendly, and truly thin. Just like I
    like it for teaching, preaching, and classroom work! Not to mention the
    fact that the pages are sewn!

  17. Ronnie: I agree on all counts. I brought mine to Bible study last night and I got an obscene number of compliments on it. I suspect some folks will be going out and getting their own very soon!

  18. I took my NIV2011 (Italian Duo Binding) to mid-week Bible study last night.
    I love the print size and especially the feel of the binding. It is very close to
    calfkskin in texture.

    I have begun highlighting passages with dry markers. Even though the paper
    is thin, the dry markers are working extremely well. There is a slight smear
    in some of the passages, and I assume this is because the print is very fresh
    and may not be thoroughly dry.

    I am also enjoying reading and comparing my NIV2011 and my ASV-1901.
    One is idiomatic and the other very modified-literal and I am finding that as
    a general rule, the NIV2011 conveys God’s word the way we speak today. So,
    perhaps I will find that in most places, the NIV2011 is as idiomatically accurate
    as the ASV-1901 is literally accurate. This is one benefit of using both kinds of
    translations in study.

  19. Ronnie: I haven’t highlighted in a Bible in quite some time. These days I generally don’t write much in my Bibles and when I do it’s with a pen.

    Can I make a suggestion? You don’t have to link to all of your blogs at the end of your comments. It automatically sends them into moderation and could potentially flag them as spam. It’s also considered poor commenting etiquette. Just link to your main blog where it tells you to enter a website. Anyone clicking on your name will go to that one and see the links to your other blogs.

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