This week begins our spring sermon series on the book of Esther, and I will be preaching using my NIV Bible. Back on Easter we wrapped up our series on the Gospel of Mark, and for that series I preached using my ESV Bible. So why have I switched backed and forth, and is one translation better than the other? Glad you asked! I’m going to share my thoughts about it over the next couple of weeks.
First, it’s important to note that no translation is perfect. Translating the Scriptures from the original texts is very difficult work because our modern English language and the ancient languages of the Bible don’t align very well. A straight word-for-word translation would not be very readable in English. So translators have choices to make in how they present the text. The goal, of course, is to be faithful to the original meaning of the authors of the Bible. Some translations (ESV, NAS, KJV) lean more toward a word-for-word translation, while others (NIV, NLT) use a more thought-for thought translation method, which is a more readable but less literal translation. Still others (Good News, The Message) are considering paraphrases. A paraphrase is a retelling of the Bible in someone’s own words. It’s what the author thinks the Bible says, not necessarily what it says.
I grew up reading the New International Version (NIV) translation of the Bible. The NIV was first published in 1978 and was revised in 1984. It is a more easily-read translation of the Bible, but it also stays true to the original text. Through the 80’s and into the 90’s the NIV became the “standard” translation in many churches, meaning that it’s what the pastor preached from and the version that was placed in the pews.
In 2005 the publisher of the NIV, a company named Zondervan, produced an updated version that strived to be gender-inclusive and called it “Today’s NIV”. Zondervan was hoping that everyone would run out and by a new Bible. That didn’t happen because there was a lot of scholarly criticism of it and people kept right on buying the old 1984 translation. Zondervan stopped publishing it in 2009.
Then, in 2011, Zondervan began to print another revised version of the NIV, still with gender-neutral changes. For example:
Mark 7:15 (NIV 84) – “Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.’”
Mark 7:15 (NIV) – “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”
The 2011 also includes some changes to certain verses that critics felt were not faithful to the original text. The catch was that this time Zondervan stopped printing the old 1984 version. Anyone who has bought an NIV Bible that was printed since 2011 has bought the new version. So pastors of “NIV Churches” now had to make a choice – adopt the new NIV, stick with the old NIV (knowing that their people would no longer be able to buy it), or adopt a new translation.
Next week – We’ll look at the ESV and discuss which translation a Christian should use. That’s right…it’s a cliffhanger!
Here’s what’s happening:
1. We are still in need of helpers in the nursery. Please consider serving and contact Shirley Echternach.
2. This Saturday, 4/14 – Spring Clean Up Day from 8am until whenever the work gets done (probably by 11am). We can use as many hands as possible!
3. I am looking for folks who participated in the 24 hour prayer vigil to give me some feedback on their experiences. What went well? What was a struggle? How did God speak to you? Would you do it again or even recommend it someone else? Send me an email or connect with me at church with your thoughts!
4. CVCCS is having their annual “Walk & Ride from Hunger” fundraising event on Sunday afternoon, 4/29 at the Conestoga Valley High School. This involves participating in either a 2 mile or 3.1 mile walk or a motorcycle ride through Lancaster County. Check it out at http://cvccs.org/walk-ride-from-hunger
I am so excited to share Esther with you over the next few weeks. It is an awesome story of the providence of God! I encourage you to invite a friend to join us on Sunday.