International (MNN) — The New International Version of the
Bible tops the list of preferred translations for evangelical leaders,
according to a recent survey by the National Association of Evangelicals. NIV marks its 30th anniversary this year with
more than 300 million copies in print worldwide.
Ron Youngblood with
International Bible Society-Send The Light
says the NIV translation came about because of language shifts and
readability. "The English language
has undergone quite a number of changes, and in order to keep it current,
especially for younger readers in the 18-34 year range, we have felt it
necessary to continue to update the language."
The original impetus for the translation came in 1953 when
Howard Long, a layman, was trying to witness to a business associate and used
the King James Version. The language in
the KJV was difficult for his friend to understand because of the 17th
That got Long to thinking about the effectiveness of
communicating the Gospel. An exploratory
study on the need for a new English translation was completed by committees
from the Christian Reformed Church and the National Association of
Then in 1965, an "Interdenominational Bible Translation
Conference" was held at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights,
Illinois. The scholars attending this conference agreed on the need for such a
new translation, and the Committee On Bible Translation was appointed. This
committee consisted of 15 scholars from different denominations and religious
affiliations. The Committee On Bible Translation was entrusted with planning
the entire project.
In 1967, the New York Bible Society (now the International
Bible Society) agreed to sponsor and finance the work on the new
translation. The New Testament was
released in September of 1973, and the completed Bible was finally published in
October of 1978.
Youngblood describes the ABCs of why the NIV engages so many
readers. "A translation must have
the kind of dignity that can be read in any context so that little children can
read it, and in mixed groups it can be read, and so forth. So accuracy,
beauty, clarity and dignity: these four characteristics, among others, I think,
characterize the NIV."