Republished with permission from Baptist Bulletin Sept/Oct 2011. All rights reserved.
New translations often face considerable opposition if they attempt to replace long-cherished traditional versions. The KJV was bitterly opposed in 1611 by many who clung to the Geneva Bible (witness the Mayflower pilgrims!) or the Bishop’s Bible. Revisions of existing translations sometimes experience the same fate. “Keep your hands off my Bible!” is a common perspective—and perhaps for good reason in some cases. At best, this attitude could reflect long years of memorization and meditation on words that have become so ingrained in readers’ minds and hearts that they seem second nature, in contrast to which different words and phrasing seem out of sorts. However, this attitude may also simply reflect an obstinate resistance to change. Change in itself is not necessarily good. But when change can result in greater accuracy and more ready comprehension of the Word of God, at that point, inflexibility serves not to protect fidelity to Scripture, but to hinder effective discipleship and ministry.
The current occasion for such discussion is the recent release of the 2011 revision of the New International Version (NIV11). The NIV New Testament was first published in 1973 and the complete Bible in 1978. It was the only “modern” translation of the time that became widely accepted in conservative circles. In more recent years there have been many more versions, though few have achieved the widespread popularity of the NIV. The NIV was revised in 1984, making the 2011 revision the third edition.