Review of the New International Version

By Luther W Martin

As early as twenty years ago, denominational leaders concluded that an “up-to-date, faithful translation of the Scriptures” was needed. Actual steps were taken in 1965 toward implementing such a project. In 1966, “100 key leaders and Bible scholars and some- 200 interested laymen” met in conference in Chicago to lay a foundation for the effort. In 1967, the New York Bible Society International agreed to sponsor the project, and to raise funds for its execution., The first tentative name for the version was “A Contemporary Translation”; but it was later changed to “The New International Version.”

A Committee on Bible Translation composed of fifteen was ultimately agreed upon. It was said of them: “They are all committed to the full authority and complete trustworthiness of the Scriptures, which they believe to be God’s Word in written form.” The Committee also wrote in the Preface: “Like all translations of the Bible, made as they are by imperfect men, this one undoubtedly falls short of its aims.” These two quotations taken from the Preface of the New International Version, portray the good attitude expressed by the translators. How well they achieved their goal, must be weighed and evaluated by all who make a study of the Scriptures.

Group Translation VS. One-Man Translation

A version rendered by a plurality of translators is always to be desired over the work of a sole translator. The diverse views and conclusions reached by the several will tend to reduce the sometimes sectarian and “far-out” renderings of the single translator, who has no system of checks and balances to moderate or modify his single line of thought. Such was the advantage of the King James Version, the American Standard, and the New American Standard, as well as the New International. While Taylor’s “Living Bible,” “Moffatt’s,” “Goodspeed’s,” and many others that were the works of lone translators mirrored the thoughts, conclusions and prejudices of one man’s mind alone. So, from this viewpoint, the NIV has avoided the “one-mind” limitation.

It is to be regretted, that the NIV translators did not see fit to use Italics to indicate when an English word was added for which there was no actual Greek equivalent. For the serious reader of the Bible, such information is a must. The NIV included some very helpful footnotes. But, most of the English versions and editions published today, do the same. The use of archaic words common to the King James and American Standard Versions is avoided by the NIV. In fact, the NIV in its Preface expresses the thought: ” . . . the Greek text uses no special pronouns to express reverence for God and Christ.”

Calvinism Heavily Stressed

The NIV has numerous improved renderings over some of its predecessors. It also has some translation results that are less than desirable. But the most glaring flaw in the entire Version is the great emphasis placed upon the expression “sinful nature”! Notice the following examples:

Rom. 7:5 – “sinful nature.”

Rom. 7:18 – “in my sinful nature.”

Rom. 7:25 – “in my sinful nature.”

Rom. 8:3 – “by our sinful nature.”

Rom. 8:4 – “our sinful nature:”

Rom. 8:5 – “their sinful nature.”

Rom. 8:8 – “their sinful nature.”

Rom. 8:9 – “your sinful nature.”

Rom. 8:12 – “our sinful nature.”

Rom. 8:13 – “the sinful nature.”

1 Cor. 5:5 – “his sinful nature.”

Gal. 5:13 – “your sinful nature.”

Gal. 5:16 – “your sinful nature:”

Gal. 5:17 – “the sinful nature” (twice in this verse).

Gal. 5:19 – “the sinful nature.”

Gal. 5:24 – “their sinful nature:”

Gal. 6:8 – “his sinful nature.”

Eph. 2:3 – “our sinful nature.”

Col. 2:11 – “your sinful nature.”

Col. 2:13 – “your sinful nature.”

II Pet. 2:10 – “their sinful natures.”

II Pet. 3:18 -“sinful human nature.”

In reviewing a Version, the reviewer should try to be objective. Obviously, I have completely failed in objectivity in dealing with the NIV. The truth is, though, that this version goes overboard in pushing the old Calvinistic false doctrine of inherited sin. And, even though it contains some worthwhile renderings, its attempt to further this particular false religious theory, more than nullifies any of its good points.

Truth Magazine XXI: 6, p. 82
February 10, 1977