New International Version (NIV)
- Reader Level: Grade 7-8
- First Published: 1978
- View the historical timeline of the NIV. (PDF)
As a mediating translation, the NIV ranks midway between a literal/formal equivalent translation and a paraphrase/functional equivalent translation.
History of the NIV
Howard Long, an engineer from Seattle, was known for his passion for sharing the gospel and his love for the King James Bible. One day, he tried sharing Scripture with a non-Christian—only to find that the KJV’s 17th-century English didn’t connect.
In 1955, Long embarked on a ten-year quest for a new Bible translation that would faithfully capture the Word of God in contemporary English. Eventually his denomination, the Christian Reformed Church (CRC), and the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) embraced his vision for the NIV.
In 1965, a cross-denominational gathering of evangelical scholars met near Chicago and agreed to start work on a new, clearer translation of the Bible- the New International Version. Instead of just updating an existing translation like the KJV, they chose to start from scratch, using the very best manuscripts available in the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic of the Bible.
One year later, their decision was endorsed by a gathering of 80 evangelical ministry leaders and scholars. And so the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT), the self-governing body responsible for the NIV, was born.
The Committee held to certain goals for the NIV: that it be an Accurate, Beautiful, Clear, and Dignified translation suitable for public and private reading, teaching, preaching, memorizing, and liturgical use. The translators were united in their commitment to the authority and infallibility of the Bible as God's Word in written form. They agreed that faithful communication of the meaning of the original writers demands frequent modifications in sentence structure (resulting in a "thought-for-thought" translation) and constant regard for the contextual meanings of words.
By working with input from pastors and Bible scholars, by grappling with the latest discoveries about biblical languages and the biblical world, and by using cutting-edge research on English usage, the Committee on Bible Translation has updated the text to ensure that the New International Version of the Bible remains faithful to Howard Long’s original inspiration.
The translators’ work didn’t end when the NIV was published in 1978. The original mandate, given in 1965, was to continue the work of Bible translation, ensuring that the NIV always reflects the very best of biblical scholarship and contemporary English. The NIV saw it's first major update in 1984, and was again refreshed for modern language in 2011.
The Committee on Bible Translation still meets every year, reviewing the work in painstaking detail—because when translating God’s inspired Word, it’s all about getting the words right.