Additional Changes I would have made to the Updated NIV Bible

Though I left the NIV camp (I’m really referrring to the TNIV) because of my many frustrations with it in Paul’s letters, the updated NIV Bible (2011) has made significant changes to lure me back.

However, I wish the updated NIV Bible had made the following changes/revisions:

1. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.  (Matt. 3:16, bold added)

I understand that “alight” is used in reference to say a bird descends from the air and comes to rest.  But it’s not a  normal expression for most.

2.  “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.”  (John 3:16, bold added)

Perhaps following the lead of the HCSB and the NET Bible would have been good here (“For God loved the world in this way:…”)

3.  “What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!”  (Rom. 6:21, bold added)

Behind “benefit” is the Greek karpos, often rendered “fruit.”  In fact, it’s rendered “fruit” at Romans 7:4.  Both the ESV and HCSB did a good job of anticipating 7:4 by rendering karpos “fruit” at 6:21 and 22.

4.  “You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf” (Col. 1:7, bold added)

I chose Colossians 1:7 to illustrate.  But wherever diakonos, (“one who serves”) which is the Greek word behind “minister” occurs, I think it should be rendered “servant.”  “Minister” has lost too much.  It seems so professional! (You know what I mean!) 

Then doulos have have to be rendered “slave” as in the HCSB.  By the way, the HCSB renders doulos “slave” and diakonos “servant.”  Good stuff!

5.  “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.”  (Heb. 5:7, bold added)

A more literal rendering would be: “In the days of his flesh…” (see ESV, NRSV, NASB).  This works well with John 1:14, 1 Timothy 3:16, and 1 John 4:2, keeping that incarnational distinctive intact (Latin incarnare – “in flesh”).

By the way, the updated NIV Bible (2011) returns to “flesh” at 1 Timothy 3:16, no longer the NIV (84) “body.”

I’ve got a few more, but these would suffice for now.

(I already addressed some gender issues here.)

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14 Responses to Additional Changes I would have made to the Updated NIV Bible

  1. Kevin Walker says:

    Good thoughts, TC. I especially would like to see John 3:16 translated something like “For God loved the world in this way…” I think that misuse of that verse can [and has] lead to a good bit of theological nonsense. [i.e. God loves me so much! I think he should give me a new car!]

  2. T.C. R says:

    Kevin,

    Yeah, here’s a rather helpful textual note from the NET Bible, which has “For this is the way God loved the world:…”

    tn Or “this is how much”; or “in this way.” The Greek adverb οὕτως (Joutws) can refer (1) to the degree to which God loved the world, that is, to such an extent or so much that he gave his own Son (see R. E. Brown, John [AB], 1:133-34; D. A. Carson, John, 204) or (2) simply to the manner in which God loved the world, i.e., by sending his own son (see R. H. Gundry and R. W. Howell, “The Sense and Syntax of John 3:14-17 with Special Reference to the Use of Οὕτως…ὥστε in John 3:16,” NovT 41 [1999]: 24-39). Though the term more frequently refers to the manner in which something is done (see BDAG 741-42 s.v. οὕτω/οὕτως), the following clause involving ὥστε (Jwste) plus the indicative (which stresses actual, but [usually] unexpected result) emphasizes the greatness of the gift God has given. With this in mind, then, it is likely (3) that John is emphasizing both the degree to which God loved the world as well as the manner in which He chose to express that love. This is in keeping with John’s style of using double entendre or double meaning. Thus, the focus of the Greek construction here is on the nature of God’s love, addressing its mode, intensity, and extent.

  3. TC,
    I have noted a number of these as well and agree with on all of them except #3. I think benefit or result works better. We can certainly understand what “fruit” means in those contexts but as a non-agrarian society its not our normal usage. Thoughts?

  4. TC, so are you coming back to the fold? We and the NIV family miss you LOL…

  5. T.C. R says:

    Daniel,

    Well, the expression “fruit of your labor” is still in vogue (“You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.” Psa. 128:2, NIV2011)

    Besides, keeping “reap” as a metaphor at both vv. 21, 22 fits well with “fruit.” In addition, karpos and other agrarian metaphors keep showing up in Paul. Should we just dismiss them as not fitting our norms of expression? I don’t think that’s the answer. 😉

    Robert,

    I’ve been spending a great deal of time with the updated NIV, and I sure like what I’ve seen thus far. 😀

  6. Gary Simmons says:

    TC, I agree with you on all those changes. “Benefit” would be more natural to us, but it diminishes the agrarian metaphor.

    Even though “to alight” is idiomatic English, it may be over (or just directly on) some readers’ heads. It certainly catches my eye, since it’s a higher-level vocab word than erchomai.

    Another thing that could be improved with Matthew 3.16: “Jesus ascended… he saw the Spirit of God descending…” It is not at all difficult to keep the anabaino – katabaino pairing.

  7. T.C. R says:

    Gary,

    Good to know that I’m not alone. 😉

    Yeah, I like the pairing too at Matthew 3:16.

  8. Joel H. says:

    John 3:16 is an interesting case, because (as I point out here: “So What? John 3:16 and the Lord’s Prayer”) it’s fairly widely known that the traditional translation — “God so loved the world” — is no longer accurate. The translation used to be accurate, but English has changed since the KJV.

    So in this case translators have to decide between accuracy and tradition.

    The NIV2011 chose tradition here.

    -Joel

  9. T.C. R says:

    Joel,

    Here is the thing: the NIV has already tweaked Psalm 23 and the Lord’s Prayer. What is John 3:16? A footnote, as in the ESV style, would have been a bit helpful.

    At any rate, tradition trumps accuracy here. Yep!

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  12. John Morgan says:

    Please, can someone explain to me why NIV translates John 19:20 as ‘Aramaic’ & not Hebrew, and in Acts 21:40?
    Does not the Greek say Hebrew – or am I missing something here?
    John

  13. John Morgan says:

    Sorry guys – perhaps I gate crashed – I am new to this. I have found some of the comments challenging & shows my ignorance on so much.
    I genuinely can’t understand why several translations have changed Hebrew to Aramaic in John 19:20, Acts21:40 & 26:14 even if if Aramaic was considered the language of the day (although I am not convinced).

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