Bible Review: Update NIV Bible 2011

  • Leather Bound: 1152 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310438578
  • Zondervan

Many thanks to Zondervan for this review copy of the NIV Thinline Bible, in the updated NIV 2011 format.

1. Font, paper, cover, ribbon, smyth sewn: It’s double-column, no references, and words of Christ in red—a good shade of red.  I don’t think it’s any secret about the quality of the NIV Bibles from Zondervan.  We’re all too familiar with them.  But I’m not that use to Trutone covers.  I hear they hold up well.  We’ll see.

There’s no concordance in the back.  This might be a bummer for some.

2. Translation Issues: Why an update? “This updated NIV builds on both the original NIV and the TNIV and represents the latest effort of the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) to articulate God’s unchanging Word in the way the original authors might have said it if they had been speaking in English to the global English-speaking audience today.”  This is then fleshed out around: 1. Changes in English.  2. Progress in Scholarship; and 3. Concern for Clarity.  Further, there’s a note on the updated NIV’s decision on “Inclusive Language.”

Dislikes: I miss “wellspring of life” at Proverbs 4:23 but not a biggie for me, though.  When we come to the NT, I wish they’d kept “sons,” rather than going for “children” (Gal. 3:7, 26).  Why?  Well, I believe there’s something intertextual going on here with retention of “sons,” not to mention our derived sonship in Christ, God’s unique Son.

On some levels, I’m a stickler for the concordance approach.  For example, “Compelled” at Gal. 2:3 should have be retained at 2:14, since we’re talking the same Greek term, within the same context.

While I’ve recently expressed my take on Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11 here, I don’t care too much for the approach in the updated NIV.  These passages in question are both marked off and italicized.   Given the larger readership of the NIV, bracketing with a footnote would have worked, as other mainline Bibles have done.

Likes: 1. Gender Approach.  Personally, I’m encouraged by most of the gender language decisions.  I’ve cringed at reading “man” and “men,” but since they’re still in vogue as universals, and the translators have noted this, then I’ll have to get over the matter.  I do like “mankind” at Genesis 1:26f and in various places in the rest of the OT.  I’ve even noticed “O mortal” at Micah 6:8.

Yeah, I rather “magi” than “wise men” at Matthew 2:1.  I like the retention of “brother” at Matthew 7: 3.  At Romans 16:1, yes, Phoebe was clearly a church deacon.  There’s no dancing around this one.

2. General Changes.  When we come to the NT, I’m a big fan of “flesh” for the Greek sarx – so I was rather encouraged to see that decision made, although some have seen this as a backward step.  I’m not convinced.  Furthermore, I’m rather impressed with the revisions in the Pauline letters, especially Romans: “appointed,” 1:4.  “the obedience that comes from faith,” 1:5.  Not to mention the reworking at 3:21-26.  The return of “according to the flesh” at 4:1.  “Adoption to sonship” at 8:15, 23; 9:4.

Concluding Thoughts

I know some people who are going to stick with the older NIV, 1984, largely because of the inclusive language in the updated NIV.  Well, that’s there preference.  Some are sticking with discontinued-in-print TNIV, as in the case of my wife.  As for me, while I didn’t care for the older NIV, and warmed up to the TNIV, but shelved it for the ESV, I see myself embracing the updated NIV, especially because of it’s readability, gender approach, and revisions in Paul.

I think the updated NIV is the Bible for all practical purposes, at least for me.  I recommend.

Now it’s waiting for a printed edition that you like. 😉

(for the changes made from NIV84 to TNIV to NIV11, see Robert Slowley’s helpful work here)

This entry was posted in Bible Translations, Bibles, ESV, NIV Bible 2011, TNIV, Updated NIV and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Bible Review: Update NIV Bible 2011

  1. Nick Norelli says:

    It’s double-column with no references, right?

    How about the word of Christ? Are they in red or black?

  2. Thanks TC for that! I have the NIV 2011 Study Bible on backorder, CBD. Not due out till October? Damn, I will be another year older if its late Oct.? lol Sorry, I cuss like an old Irishman, because I am! 🙂 Reading Luther again! lol

  3. T.C. R says:


    Yeah, now I need to update the review a bit. 😉

    Fr. Robert,

    You’re welcome. You and Study Bibles, man! 🙂 Yeah, that’s quite a wait, but Luther’s keep you busy for sure.

  4. Bobby Grow says:

    Thanks for the review.

    I’ve decided to stick with my NASBupdated, I’m even having rebind and cover it in calf skin for me (that’s a symbol of my commitment to that Bible 😉 ).

    I’ve tried, over the years to like the NIV; I just can’t! I actually like reading a Bible, like the NASB, that isn’t the best English (syntactically). I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I ever started reading the Bible (in my youth) in the KJV. Anyway, the NASBu will do for me.

    • Bobby,

      Yeah sweet! I just got me a NASB Update black gen. leather (Large print Ultrathin, black letter) Reference Bible the other day. Foundation Press (Anaheim). Like I really needed it! lol But I wanted it! My weakness is genuine leather Bibles! Love the NASB for the literal accurracy, even when reading for me too!

      • Bobby Grow says:

        I already have the large print ultrathin black letter calf skin from Foundation. But it’s just too big for everyday use. So I’m going to take the same version, but a much smaller bible printed by zondervan (it’s a thinline, and actually really little, which I like) and have that calf-skinned and rebound (it’s going to take 4 to 6mos.).

  5. Dan says:

    The prodigal has come home! 😉

  6. T.C. R says:


    Yeah, that’s quite a commitment. I used the NASB95 for a few years before switching to the TNIV. It really wasn’t working for me at a public reading level, though it has for some.


    Yes, indeed. I was up last night with it in hand, going through several texts, even though I had done so online. But holding it was different. 🙂

  7. Kevin Walker says:

    Will they be publishing one in the Renaissance leather? That NIV is still my favorite thinline.

  8. TC,

    I still have to wait a few more weeks for my NIV 2011, I’m ordering the Thinline Reference Large print Leather bound, very similar to the TNIV Renaissance leather.

  9. T.C. R says:


    The one Robert referenced looks like a Renaissance leather. I’m almost certain, given the price as well.


    I believe that will be my personal investment too. For now, I’m going to use this review copy. 😉

  10. Gary Simmons says:

    Two minor nitpicks about the NIV2011’s translation choices:

    1. Matt 18:21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

    That won’t preach. “Brother or sister” makes it seem that Peter is asking an abstract question. He’s probably talking about Andrew, though, whose gender is most definitely definite.

    2. “Wise men” doesn’t really get the sorcerer implication across, and “magi” only makes sense as an obscure technical term. Why not “wizards?”

  11. Theophrastus says:

    I would think a good reason for people to stick with the NIV78, the NIV84, or the TNIV is because, well, they already own the previous editions (and if they don’t, the TNIV is heavily discounted and the NIV84 will soon be as well). Ordinary people didn’t rush out to buy the 11th edition of Merriam-Webster’s if they already owned the 10th edition — why should they rush to buy a new edition of the NIV just six years after the last translation?

    (And, if the answer is that the previous editions were all defective in some way, then why would one possibly have faith that this edition isn’t also defective in some way?)

    If one is determined to buy yet another Bible translation, rather than invest money in some edition that just fiddles around a bit with translation choices, why not choose an edition with a fundamentally different translation approach?

  12. T.C. R says:


    1. I guess they could have taken the same approach they as at Matt 7:4.

    2. Yes, as a technical term “magi” works. Consider “Sanhedrin.” Plus a bit of explanation doesn’t hurt. We need to teach people how to be intelligent readers. 😉


    You’re not alone, as I noted in the post. But for a guy like me, having the updated makes a lot of sense, especially in Paul.

  13. Theophrastus says:

    TC, with your Greek and your theological skills (not to mention your library), I very much doubt that you will need a new edition of the NIV for Pauline study purposes. Perhaps if you use it in your preaching or teaching, a new edition might make sense. Similarly, if the new edition featured a radically improved treatment of the Hebrew Bible, it might be useful. But I just find it hard to believe that the NIV11 will make a difference in your understanding of Paul.

  14. Chuck says:

    I received a Large Print Thinline (non reference) as a review copy – I knew my eyes wouldn’t tolerate anything smaller in print. It’s beautifully done, considering it’s bonded leather. Very thin but easy to read… I’m looking forward to seeing the reference editions and study bibles as they come out. Amazingly large print pew/church bibles will be out soon.

  15. T.C. R says:

    |Perhaps if you use it in your preaching or teaching, a new edition might make sense.|


    Yes, that’s what’s about. But I still have to wrestle with the Greek and so on. 😉


    Nice. 🙂

  16. Gary Simmons says:

    T.C., I agree completely that we can leave room for explanation in Bible translation. I believe the Bible is a community’s founding document, and so it is meant to be expressed and understood in community. That means it’s OK if not everyone gets everything without some explanations here or there.

    However, why transliterate magoi when wizard works just as well? Do you think that it’s embarrassing to admit Jesus was worshiped by wizards early on? I suspect that translators avoid “wizard” for magos specifically because people would find it offensive and unacceptable. While the magoi were “wise men” in a sense, the Greek term is more specific than that. They weren’t poets. They weren’t philosophers. They were astrologers. By obscuring this, we cover up God’s grace to these astrologers, in that he actually directed them through their pagan superstition to be his first messengers, in a fashion not unlike how God spoke to Balaam (Num 22) or (implicitly) Melchizedek (Gen 14).

    Calling a Sanhedrin a Sanhedrin is fine. There’s nothing obscured by that, so long as someone explains it. Adding “province of” before “Asia” in the New Testament is a little weird, but acceptable. There is nothing lost there.

    But I do still feel that nobody will read “magi” or “wise men” and connect the dots that God had actually worked through astrology to convert astrologers.

  17. T.C. R says:


    Fair enough. But “magi” is the term that I encounter in biblical literature often, not “wizard.” And even if we’re talking “wizard,” are we talking Harry Potter types?

    But I do appreciate the case you’ve made, even extending to God’s grace. Perhaps some future translation or revision may go in this direction – but we still need the “three wise men” for Christmas. 😉

  18. Dennis says:

    Concerning the New NIV Translation, I think that the translators are overreaching beyond their translation duties, in changing masculine pronouns to gender neutral or gender inclusive, when the context is quite clear. It might be that there was pressure from the publishers to put out another translation of the NIV. (I think the previous translators did a splendid job!) I heard from others that possibly feminist had a voice in that decision. What ever it may be, I think that two things are being missed in translating today. One, the bible was written mainly “to” and “for” Christians, not unbelievers. and secondly, Pastors are to “teach” or “explound” on the bible to congregants, not translators who translate from the original languages into english. There is an overemphasis of ‘readability’ due to pressure from publishers I think. (yes money is important to them. this also could be another factor.)
    It should be interesting to see if the New NIV Translation remains as the best selling english bible translation. Time will tell. I’m going to stick to the ’84 edition and switch later to maybe the ESV.

  19. Pingback: Translating Pronouns in the Updated NIV | New Leaven

  20. Ronnie Daly says:

    Zondervan definitely did a great job with the design of the NIV 2011.
    The large print thinline edition is great. The print is clear, the bible
    is truly thin, and the cover, whether bonded leather or the Italian
    Duo-Tone is flexible yet sturdy.

    One of my complaints concerning the ESV is the fact that the publisher
    provides copies with a font style similar to a typewriter instead of a
    bold lettered text. The second complaint is that the publisher has not
    published a thinline large print edition.

    I know people who have abandoned the ESV because of the factors I
    mentioned above. They gravitated to the NIV 2011 or the HCSB. One
    professor now uses the ASV and the NIV 2011 together! He says that
    he is using the best of two worlds. The ASV arguably being the best of
    the modified literal versions and the NIV 2011 the best of the idiomatic
    bibles. According to him, they balance one another extremely well.

  21. Chuck says:

    Zondervan in October will be coming out with a combo NASB NIV 2011 with Greek interlinear edited by Mounce. That should satisfy many!

  22. Tim Day says:

    I am personally disappointed with a few key parts of the translation. For example, trading “patience” for “forbearance” in Galatians 5:22-23. It may be more accurate but forbearance is basically out of use. They try to improve accessibility and readability in some ways and then take big steps backwards in other ways.

  23. Ronnie Daly says:

    What are some of the specific “major” issues that you are finding
    with the NIV 2011? Are they serious enough that you plan to
    abandon the revised NIV and return to your former translation?
    Will you use the revised NIV only for comparison and general reading?

    • T.C. R says:


      I’m not satisfied with every decision in the area of gender. This remains the biggest issue for me. However I’m not abandoning the updated NIV. 😉

  24. Simon says:

    Hey TCR, I purchased the 2011 NIV as well. Altho i think i like my old NIV better. I think i’m just used to it more.

    Anyways, what’s your take on the “Reformed” crusade against the NIV, TNIV etc based on “gender equality” and bible translations?

    I think some of the most slanderous stuff i’ve heard has been hurled against the translators by the fundamentalists. For e.g. there is aYoutube clip of John MacArthur saying that the TNIV translators were beholden to the feminist movement. I mean, this is simply untrue – as guys like Gordon Fee have said. It’s amazing that these guys think it’s their God-given right to sling mud at everyone they don’t agree with and think it’s ok. The hypocracy is palpable.

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