THE TAKE AWAY
The NIV, Zondervan, HarperCollins, and Missing Verses
By Kersley Fitzgerald
There has been some recent hullabaloo about the New International Version, its publisher Zondervan, Zondervan's parent company HarperCollins, and the end of the world. The claim is that the NIV has removed almost 65,000 words and several verses from the Bible, and that Harper Collins also publishes The Satanic Bible, therefore the NIV has been corrupted in essence and by association.
Here's the rest of the story.
The New International Version was translated by an international group of scholars under the auspices of the Committee on Bible Translation. The translators attempted to use a method between the Formal Equivalency (word for word) and the Dynamic Equivalency (thought for thought), although it leans too much toward Dynamic for many. Translation began in 1965 and the New Testament was published in 1973. The original translation efforts were sponsored by the International Bible Society, now known as Biblica. Translation efforts cost much more than originally estimated. Despite the fact IBS employees mortgaged their homes to keep it going, the finances were not sustainable. The Christian publishing company Zondervan came alongside them in 1975, offering to cover the translation effort in return for rights to publish and sell the NIV when it was complete.
The NIV was finished three years later, in 1978, and revised in 1984 into the standard version that many of us learned from as kids. The New International Reader's Version (NIrV) was started in 1992 and is designed for a third-grade reading level for young children and ESL readers.
In 2005, the Today's New International Version (TNIV) was released. Many unspecified pronouns were changed from the masculine to the plural ("he" to "they") which may have nullified some Old Testament prophecies about Christ. Because of push-back to these and other unnecessary changes, it went out of print in 2009.
The 2011 New International Version includes some of the same problems that caused the TNIV to go out of print. The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood found over 3600 gender-related problems, including alterations to verses like 1 Timothy 2:12 and Nahum 3:13 which misrepresent the original text's teaching on gender roles. Despite this, the 2011 will now be the standard NIV sold.
The Committee on Bible Translation are still the translators of the NIV. They include seminary professors from Wheaton, Bethel, Calvin Theological, Denver, Cambridge, and Westminster. None of them appear to have any formal affiliation with Zondervan or HarperCollins, although it's logical to assume Zondervan still finances their efforts.
Regarding the "missing verses," the 1984 NIV either never had them, included them only in the footnotes, or slapped brackets around them with the note "The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have..." For a more thorough explanation of those verses, see the Got Questions article. The gist of the article is that these verses were not included in the oldest, most reliable Greek texts we have found to date.
Please understand that the literal translations Got Questions recommends, the NASB and the ESV, treat these verses the same way. If you are faithful to the King James Version, you're not going to like any of these translations, and the argument is irrelevant. Loyalty to the King James is often more emotional than scholarly, however. It was a very good idea and used the best Bible sources available at the time, although older and more accurate sources have been found since then. These older sources indicate that certain verses were added to the Textus Receptus, the 15th century Greek New Testament, that were not original. Actually, the Textus Receptus was finished so hastily, it went under several modifications until most of the typos were finally removed in 1633 — 22 years after the King James was first translated. Three hundred years later, the Textus Receptus was replaced with a more accurate Greek version.
The copyright of the NIV is still owned and controlled by Biblica. In the US, Zondervan is still licensed to publish and sell the NIV, while in the UK Hodder & Stoughton hold the license. Here's a run-down of the publishing company sales:
1962 Harper & Brothers merges with Row, Peterson & Co. to become Harper & Row.
1987 Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation buys publisher William Collins, Sons.
1988 Harper & Row buys Zondervan as well as Christian publishing company Marshall Pickering.
1989 News Corp. buys Harper & Row and combines it with William Collins to make HarperCollins.
News Corporation also owns Fox Entertainment Group, Inc., which includes 20th Century Fox (everything from M*A*S*H to Night at the Museum to The Omen to Alvin and the Chipmunks — and the first two Star Wars trilogies). As well as Fox News, National Geographic Channel, Fox Sports, and FX.
News Corporation's publishing is varied, to say the least. It includes the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal. HarperCollins owns the romance imprint Harlequin, Ecco Books (Richard Dawkins and Amy Tan), Avon (The Satanic Bible and romances), Harper Perennial (To Kill a Mockingbird), and HarperOne (CS Lewis, Desmond Tutu, Rob Bell...) among others.
Under its Christian line, HarperCollins' acquisitions include BibleGateway, Thomas Nelson, and the self-publishing imprint WestBow Press.
There are four general basic reasons given to reject the New International Version. Some have merit and some don't.
It's published (not owned) by the same parent corporation that publishes The Satanic Bible
If you wish to refrain from lining the pockets of people who peddle evil, that's a fine and noble decision. But you're also giving up newer printings of CS Lewis, Donald Miller, Ann Voskamp, some Andy Stanley, some Ben Carson, Lee Strobel, and many others. Not to mention the middle three Star Wars movies and Fox News.
It has missing verses
Please read the Got Questions article if this is genuinely a concern. These verses appeared in the Greek text available at the time of the translation of the King James Version, but not in the older Greek texts found later. Their inclusion/exclusion don't affect theology or the person of Christ in any way.
The 2011 NIV deviates too much from the text
That's a valid concern and one that we have, as well. If you wish to reject the 2011 NIV for this reason, we have no argument.
It's not the King James Version
If you're loyal to the KJV, we're also not going to argue — in part because it's often more of a sentimental choice than a historically logical one. That's a decision you need to make, and while we don't agree that the KJV is the best (and we will tell you why when asked), we're not going to fight about it.
For more, see:
Snopes.com, "Bible Versus"
HarperCollins Christian line
GotQuestions.org, "What is the New International Version (NIV)?"
GotQuestions.org, "What is the Today's New International Version (TNIV)?"
GotQuestions.org, "What is the New International Version Reader's Version (NIrV)?"
Image Credit: J. Mark Bertrand; "KJV Pitt Minion and NIV Pocket Cross-Reference #3"; Creative Commons
Tags: Controversial-Issues | Current-Issues | History-Apologetics | Reviews-Critiques
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