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Why did we use the NIrV for the Accessible Bible?

NIrV AccessibleEdition logo

NIrV AccessibleEdition logo


Two key principles of the Committee for Bible Translation of the NIV is accuracy and understanding. Indeed, both principles need one another because if you can’t understand the text you’re not going to be able to accurately interpret or digest it. And furthermore if it’s not accurate your understanding of the text is going to be misaligned. That’s why the NIV has been regularly revised to ensure language is contemporary and therefore understandable.

However, sometimes contemporary language isn’t enough for understanding. For many the language and sentence structure of the NIV is a barrier to their reading of the Bible and hence their understanding of it too. For instance in the UK alone there are 5.2 million people who are only ‘functionally literate’ which in essence means they are able to read enough to function through daily tasks and basic employment tasks.

People can be ‘functionally literate’ for all sorts of reasons, for instance poor education, having a learning disability, or English being their second language. It is for many of these people in these groups that we wished to increase access through our Accessible Bible project. However with a reading age of around 13–14 the NIV text was likely to be a hindrance for many of the people we wished to increase access to. However, we had the perfect translation in the New International Reader’s Version (NIrV).

The NIrV, is a simplified version of the NIV. How is it simplified? Sometimes it’s a case of simpler language having been used. Some of the time words in the text are explained. For much of the time it uses simpler grammar and syntax.

This means that the NIrV is a simplification of the NIV as opposed to a paraphrase, and means as a translation it remains accurate and clear but has a reading age of about 8. It also means it is closely aligned to the NIV text hence if someone is using the NIrV Accessible Edition in a ‘NIV church’ the text will not be too different and therefore not too difficult to follow along with.

Hence using the NIrV increases access in two ways. Firstly making it an easier to read translation, and secondly aligning it with the most popular translation in the UK meaning many will be able to easily follow along with a reading taken from the NIV itself.