Why the NIV Should Die

I recently read through the Bible using the NIV. I’ve done this before and it always irritates me.

The NIV is not a bad translation when it comes to reading the stories in the Bible, much of the OT reads much better in the NIV.

However, being a good narrator does not equal being a good theology teacher. Whenever the Bible hits on doctrinal truth the NIV frequently drops the ball.

The thing I hate the worst about it is that it makes up words that are not there and removes other words that are there. A few weeks ago I used a verse and my whole point hinged on one word.

The NIV did not have that one word in their verse making my point seem stupid to anyone who reads the NIV. I assure you, the stupid one (in this instance anyway) was not me.

If you rely on the NIV for your doctrinal instruction, I strongly encourage you to stop now. It is leading you astray. I say this with all seriousness.

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7 comments

  1. jeff

    The verse was Romans 15:13, which the KJV begins with “now” and the NIV does not mention the word “now” at all. My point hinged on that word “now.” I think it is an important word based on Paul’s point in quoting Isaiah in vs. 12. Paul does not quote “in that day” as it says in isaiah, because Paul’s point is not about that day it is about now. It bugged me that the NIV eliminated the whole point.

  2. jeff

    Any translation that seeks to literally translate the Greek and Hebrew rather than paraphrase it is fine by me. Some paraphrasing is necessary in translation from time to time, but to make a whole Bible primarily based on paraphrase is just awful. I want to know what God actually said, not what some guy decided God said and writes it as what God said.

  3. Lee Bossert

    Jeff, I’m no great fan of the NIV, preferring the NAS and ESV for study and reading. But I suspect the issue here may not be as clear cut it seems. Compare 15:13 to 16:20. The first three words in the Greek are the same in both verses. But where the KJV translators rendered “Now the God ..” in 15:13, they gave us “And the God …” in 16:20. I’ve not studied Greek — can you shed additional light on this for me?

  4. jeff

    Yeah, I figured someone would call me on the Greek! It’s the little word “de” in Greek that can be translated many ways, “but, and, now, then, yet,” and some other possible usages. The NIV gets “may” out of it, which, I really don’t get that. It’s a tough word. It’s probably not the best example of my point, it’s just the recent one.

  5. Frank Zimmerman

    I stuck pretty much to the KJV until I recently discovered the ESV, which I liked a lot. I was going through an older book, substituting KJV for ESV verses, and only ran into a few places in the book where I went, “oh, that doesn’t fit as well…now what do I do?”

    However, the ESV also has “may” in your verse from Romans. What I would do in that case is look for some parallel verses to prove the point. There has to be more than just one verse to prove what you want to say…the Holy Spirit repeats the same truth in numerous places, so that we don’t have to get led astray by the variations found in the different translations.

    I find this method (of finding numerous lines of the same truth stated in different places) to be much safer than resorting to the original languages…the Jews had the original languages, but they rejected Christ…so it will not solve all disputes, and as you pointed out, often the words of the original languages can mean many different things.