The New International Version 2011 edition is out and some folks are wondering, “is it much different than the 1984 edition?”  So using my trusty Logos Bible Software for Mac, I did a quick comparison to see just how different this new translation is from the old.

Below is a comparison of the “New” New International Version (NIV2011) to both “Yesterday”‘s New International Version (NIV1984) and Today’s New International Version (TNIV).

Screen-shot-2011-01-13-at-1.16

A quick glance shows some helpful statistics:

  • On average, the text for the New Testament of the the NIV1984 is 6.25% different than the text of the NIV2011.
  • On average, the text of the TNIV is only 1.55% different from the NIV2011.

Conclusion: the TNIV and NIV2011 are substantially the same while the NIV1984 is quite different.

Below is a graph of the same data in the above chart.

Screen-shot-2011-01-13-at-1.17

A few more observations:

  • The book of Galatians is the most changed from both the NIV1984 & the TNIV.
  • The book of Luke has the least amount of changes, on average, from both the NIV84 & the TNIV.
  • With a variance of 7.9%, the book of Philemon has the largest gap in changes made between in two previous NIV translations.

I don’t know if these changes are good or bad, but I thought it would be fun to share some of the stats.

One quick observation.

Romans Chapter 6 is one of my bellwether chapters for translations.  I always check here first on a new translation to see how they deal with some of the more difficult translation issues.  As shown above, the entire book of Romans varies in 7.9% of the text of the NIV2011 from the NIV1984 (the TNIV is virtually identical).  However, in Romans chapter six, the change jumps from 7.9% up to 10.8%.  In other words, Romans chapter 6 is 2% over the average change to the book as a whole.

Some changes I find a bit awkward. For example, the NIV2011 introduces a passive phrase in verse 2 that makes reading it a lot more difficult.

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? ” (Romans 6:1–2; NIV84)
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? ” (Romans 6:1–2; NIV11)

Really?  The grammatically passive “are those who have died” sounded better to the translators?

Theologically, I think the translators miss the mark on verse 5.

“If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. ” (Romans 6:5; NIV84)
“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. ” (Romans 6:5; NIV11)

The NIV2011 translation introduces a new theological wrinkle.  Do we, as Christians, participate in the actual death and resurrection of Christ, or do we have a death and resurrection that is only “like” his, but not the same?

The rest of the chapter 6 changes are acceptable and don’t appear to make a whole of of difference to the text one way or the other.

Anyway, those are just a few thoughts for now.

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Dr. Joe Miller (aka JR) is a Professor of Applied Theology and Leadership & Dean of Online Learning at Southern California Seminary. In addition, he is a church planter and coach for emerging leaders. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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