"So was Pastor MacArthur himself in favor of an NIV version of the [MacArthur Study Bible]?"

Phil Johnson on The MacArthur Study Bible (NIV)
MacArthur: “Those who are using the most inadequate translations obviously need the most help to understand the Scriptures properly. Personally, I would be delighted to see the MSB notes in every commonly-used translation—and in as many languages as possible.”

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Aaron Blumer's picture


Not that the new NIV deserves to be compared to the New World Translation (or that the Watchtower Society would ever allow J.Mac's notes) but I wonder if JM really means "every commonly used translation."
Seems like you have to draw a line of some sort and I would argue that it would be better to draw it more conservatively.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Paul J. Scharf's picture

There are lots of study Bibles in the NIV -- including the Ryrie (although, of course, that is the NIV84 -- not sure what will happen from this point forward).
The point is, it is unfair to impose a stricter standard on the MSB than we would accept on anything else.
That being said, however, my own personal opinion is that it would be better not to pair the MSB with the NIV11.
After all, Dr. MacArthur does not even commonly recommend the use of NIV, as far as I know from listening to him. Thus, this does not seem to logically flow as a natural fit.

Church Ministries Representative, serving in the Midwest, for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry 

jimfrank's picture

I'd like to think that I take the Bible as seriously as any of you do, obedience issues aside. However, we tend to forget that publishing is a business, not a ministry. I do not begrudge NewsCorp in any way. It's function is to make money for the stockholders, and not present the Gospel to the masses in either televised or published forms. Though NewsCorp likely gives the management of Zonderavan and Thomas Nelson considerable leeway with product selection, it still must make money for the parent company. Considering this commercial "secular" outlook, an NIV11 MacArthur Study Bible makes sense.

Yet the NIV revisions have consistently fallen short of expectations. The NIV Study Bible sold very well, and it has been repackaged into several different versions such as the NASB Study Bible. However, despite a good academic pedigree the TNIV fell completely flat. One of the editors told me that the old NIV could not be revised because of existing contracts and copyright laws. They had to produce a new translation. Zondervan "caught lightning in a bottle" with the NIV84 and the Study Bible. Similarly, today Good News Publishers enjoys a hot product that has "taken the Evangelical world by storm" (MacArthur). Though it does not follow that the NIV11 will fail because the other NIV revsions failed, the track record is not good.

It's too bad that the NASB95 did not catch on. It's probably the best translation of them all. The Lockman Foundation fixed most of the "English as spoken by nobody" quirks of the original NASB. Though it still does not "speak" as well from the pulpit as it should, it reads and studies very well. But the NASB has never been aggressively marketed. It will always be the third or fourth choice of most Evangelical churches.

Why is it that when I write these things I think of Mel Brooks' Yogurt in Spaceballs: "Moich-endising! Moich-endising!" Biggrin

Shaynus's picture

When I was a kid my dad, my brother and I got a tour of Grace Community Church from one of the pastors. At the bookstore I bought my first non-KJV: an NASB95. I thought "wow this is amazingly easy to read." Then later I thought "wow this sounds terrible out loud."

I really like the elevated language and readability of the ESV. Crossway, though a business, consistently acts like a ministry that really cares for the truth. We use mostly the ESV at my church. My pastor called them to ask about buying Bibles for our book table, the customer service rep responded, "oh you want Bibles? How many people attend on an average Sunday?" "70" "OK we'll ship you 70 ESV bibles for free." We handed them out one Sunday and every attender got a Bible or two. They were pretty decent quality, and probably retailed for $15 each. You could argue that Crossway was trying to get their product into the marketplace, but a simpler explanation is that money didn't matter to them as much as getting the Word into as many hands as possible.

One good practice we've emphasized is to teach people to use multiple translations in their reading to get the best possible range of meanings. We model it during the sermons and make a point to mention it as often as a translation issue pops up in the text.

J Ng's picture

Seems like Phil Johnson might've gotten it backwards on this:

NIV translators increasingly favor egalitarian-friendly translations of texts that limit the role of women in church leadership. One example will suffice: Although the 1984 NIV translated 1 Timothy 2:12 the way it has historically been understood ("I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent"), the NIV 2011 edition has rendered that verse in a way that allows for an egalitarian interpretation, as if Paul were merely condemning rebellion, and not female headship over men in the church per se ("I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet"). NIV editors have generally followed contemporary editorial protocols preferring gender-neutral or gender-inclusive terms instead of masculine-sounding expressions—substituting "brothers and sisters" where the text says "brethren," using "humanity" where the text speaks of "men," or translating it "person" where the original word means "man."

Hmm. Which is a broader prohibition?

Against usurpation or against mere assumption of authority? Methinks the former is one (particular heinous) form of latter.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Pickering ]Ernest Pickering and http://www.ccel.org/j/jowett/ John Henry Jowett are both said to "assume" the pastorate at one time or another. But neither is accused of usurping anything.

I'm all for complementarianism and believe the Bible teaches it. But isn't there a better example available?

Mike Harding's picture

After 33 years of pastoring I just bought my first NIV study Bible (2011 Premium Leather). I attended a lengthy seminar presentation by Dr. Bill Combs at DBTS on this particular edition of the NIV. Agreed that there are some negatives (as there are with all translations to some degree), but there are also some positives. The "meaning for meaning" translation really comes out on some key texts such as John 1:18, Romans 9:5, Malachi 2:16, and Romans 16:7 to name a few. One could literally write entire Th.M. dissertations on each of those verses in order to get the translation right. The NIV 2011 nailed each one of them. Also, several key NT texts on the subject of homosexuality were translated so as to remove any possibility of misunderstanding or misinterpretation by the left regarding God's total opposition of its practice. I think the editorial scholarship of Douglas Moo comes out in this edition. I would recommend it for personal study and reading. I still think it best to use a formal correspondence translation for the pulpit such as the NKJV, 95 NASB, or the ESV. We have used the 95 NASB for fifteen years as the pulpit Bible at FBC Troy.

Pastor Mike Harding