Now read by millions of people across the world, the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible began as one man’s bold vision….
Howard Long, an engineer from Seattle, was known for his passion for sharing the gospel and his love for the Bible. But when he tried to share Scripture from the King James Version with a non-Christian friend, he realised the language had become outdated and wasn’t connecting with someone who had little or no experience of the biblical text. In 1955, Howard embarked on a ten-year quest to develop a new English Bible translation that would faithfully capture the Word of God in contemporary English. Gradually others from across the evangelical and denominational spectrum embraced his vision, and work on what we now know as the NIV began in 1965.
But rather than just update the existing text, the translation team chose to go back to the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic source texts and manuscripts, to make sure this new translation was both contemporary and faithful to the original meaning.
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 Translation Process
To ensure maximum accuracy and readability, the NIV went through a rigorous translation, ensuring careful review and checking by a team of qualified scholars at each and every stage. As part of the final review, samples were tested with pastors, students, and laypeople, to ensure the correct balance had been achieved between accuracy and readability.
From Dream to Reality
In 1968, Biblica became the NIV’s translation sponsor, mortgaging its office space in Manhattan and New Jersey so that Howard Long’s dream of a trustworthy, accessible Bible translation would become reality. Ten years later, the full NIV Bible was published. The initial print run of over a million copies sold out before they were even done printing. Such was the demand for an accurate, readable Bible. Dozens of evangelical denominations, churches, and seminaries embraced the NIV as their official Bible translation for preaching, study, public reading, and personal use.
The Work Goes On
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 Committee on Bible Translation still meets every year, reviewing the work in painstaking detail.
The New International Version (NIV) has now become one of the most widely read Bible translations in contemporary English. You can find out more at www.thenivbible.com