The top-selling Bible in North America will undergo its first revision in 25 years, modernizing the language in some sections and promising to reopen a contentious debate about changing gender terms in the sacred text. The New International Version, the Bible of choice for conservative evangelicals, will be revised to reflect changes in English usage and advances in Biblical scholarship, it was announced Tuesday. The revision is scheduled to be completed late next year and published in 2011. Photo
"We want to reach English speakers across the globe with a Bible that is accurate, accessible and that speaks to its readers in a language they can understand," said Keith Danby, global president and CEO of Biblica, a Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Christian ministry that holds the NIV copyright.
But past attempts to remake the NIV for contemporary audiences in different editions have been plagued by controversies about gender language that have pitted theological conservatives against each other.
The changes did not make all men "people" or remove male references to God, but instead involved dropping gender-specific terms when translators judged that the original text didn't intend it. So in some verses, references to "sons of God" became "children of God," for example.
Supporters say gender-inclusive changes are more accurate and make the Bible more accessible, but critics contend they twist meaning or smack of political correctness.
Acknowledging past missteps, the NIV's overseers are promising that this time, the revision process will be more transparent and that they will actively promote what they describe as a long-held practice of inviting input from scholars and readers.
The NIV was first published in 1978 and more than 300 million NIV Bibles are in print worldwide; its publishers and distributors say the translation accounts for 30 percent of Bibles sold in North America.
The Committee on Bible Translation, an independent group of conservative scholars and translators formed in 1965 to create and revise the NIV, will oversee the new revision.
An effort earlier this decade to create a separate version of the NIV that used more gender-inclusive language in an attempt to reach a younger audience fell flat with groups that felt it crossed the line.