The top-selling Bible in North America will undergo its first revision in 25 years, 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.
“We want to reach English speakers across the globe with a Bible that is accurate, accessible and 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 have been plagued by controversies about gender language.
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. In some verses, references to “sons of God” became “children of God,” for example.
Acknowledging past missteps, NIV overseers are promising that this time, the revision process will be more transparent and that they will invite 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.
Douglas Moo, a professor at Wheaton College and chairman of the Committee on Bible Translation, said the group is committed to “a complete review of every gender related change.”
“I am not sure how it’s going to come out,’’ Moo said. “We have a genuine, authentic review process. Everything is on the table.’’
Moo said most changes Here is a glimpse of likely changes: In the ‘84 NIV, Mary is “with child,’’ but in the TNIV she is “pregnant.’’ In the NIV version of Psalm 146:9, “The Lord watches over the alien.’’ The TNIV used “foreigner’’ instead of “alien.’’