The NIV Conspiracy

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The NIV Conspiracy

15 July 2015 Hits:24151

On 11 July 2015, musician Erica Campbell shared a post on Facebook inferring a conspiracy by Harper Collins regarding the New International Version of the Bible.  She claimed that 45 verses and 64,575 words had been removed from the New International Version Bible (NIV).

Harper Collins bought the NIV Bible’s original publishing house, Zondervan, in 1988.  They then bought Thomas Nelson Publishing in 2011 and combined it with Zondervan to form the Christian arm of its publishing empire.  Harper Collins publishes an enormous variety of books but their three main categories are Kids & Teens, Christian and Romance.

The Facebook post mentions that Harper Collins also publishes the Satanic Bible and The Joy of Gay Sex – and that’s completely true.  It’s the world’s largest publisher and distributes books of every kind of genre, even genres that people of faith may find offensive.

The other part of this Facebook post mentions, “The NIV has now removed 64,575 words from the Bible including Jehovah, Calvary, Holy Ghost and omnipotent to name a few …”  This is not true.  For example, the word Calvary in the King James Version (KJV) is translated “the place called the Skull” in the NIV.  Calvary means “the place called the Skull” so all the NIV does here is make the reading of this verse more understandable.  One of the names of God, Jehovah, is mentioned seven times in the KJV but is translated as ‘The Lord’ by the NIV.  It’s important to remember that the name Jehovah is a Latin version of YHWH – the unpronounceable name by which God revealed Himself to Moses – “I am who I am!”  It’s believed that in the 11th century a hybrid form of YHWH was made by combining the Latin letters JHVH with the vowels of Adonai (another of God’s names).  William Tyndale popularised “Jehovah” in the English-speaking world in the 14th Century, hence it was used in the original KJV. Today most modern translations interpret this word as ‘The Lord’ – which is quite appropriate.

“Holy Ghost” is found 89 times in the KJV New Testament, while the NIV translates this as Holy Spirit.  As for the word omnipotent (meaning all-powerful) found once in the KJV in Revelation 19:6, “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”  The NIV correctly translates this as, “Hallelujah!  For our Lord God Almighty reigns.”  Almighty is a synonym for omnipotent and is more easily understood in 21st century English.  So the suggestion that 64,575 words had been removed from the New International Version Bible is simply incorrect.

It’s vital to understand that the Bible has been translated and updated over the years as language has changed.  It was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.  Any translation task is difficult – and even more so when it is from ancient texts. Sometimes there are words that have no accurate equivalent in English, so several English words may be required to reproduce the precise meaning.  The same challenge occurs with other languages.  For example, in Aleut (the language spoken by Eskimos) there is no word for “joy.”  Consider the countries where sheep are considered an unclean animal.  Describing Jesus as “The Lamb of God” would be detrimental to the teaching of the gospel.

Over the centuries the Bible was first translated into Latin (the Latin Vulgate was used by the Western church through the early and middle ages) and eventually into English and many other languages.  John Wycliffe produced the first hand-written English language Bible manuscripts in the 1380’s.  Wycliffe and his contemporaries believed “that people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language.”

In the 1450s Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press and the first book to ever be printed was a Latin language Bible.  From that time on Bibles and other books were printed quickly and in large quantities.  Bible scholars started learning and studying Greek and soon realized the Latin version of the Bible had moved a long way from the original language.  The new English Bibles being translated and printed created an enormous hunger for the Word of God, the true Gospel and ultimately led to the Reformation.

In 1604 the Protestant clergy approached King James I to ask for a new translation of the Bible.  The King authorised this to be done and commissioned about 50 scholars for the task.  In 1611 the first King James Bible came off the printing press.

Over the centuries the KJV has been updated several times as the English language has changed.  For example, in the 1611 KJV John 3:16 read, “For God so loued þe world, that he gaue his only begotten Sonne: that whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue euerlasting life.”  Try reading the whole Bible like that!

Over the centuries Bible translators have done their best to keep up with changes in language.  When I first became a Christian I read the KJV exclusively as I was told that it was the best translation.  I now know that’s not completely true.  Back in 1611 the scholars did their best with the manuscripts that were available to them, but since that time many older manuscripts of the Scriptures have been discovered.  As they are older they are deemed to be more reliable than the later copies that were used for the KJV.  (These old manuscripts are housed in several museums and other places all over the world).  And so the newer translations such as the NIV are based on older, more reliable manuscripts.  For that reason 45 verses have been removed from the NIV that are not found in these documents. They are, however, found in the NIV footnotes or margins.

The verses in question are of minor significance and none of the key Christian doctrines are affected by these changes. For this reason I believe the NIV Bible is accurate, trustworthy and reliable.

Rob Buckingham

Senior Minister

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30 replies on “The NIV Conspiracy”

simone pilenssays:

Thanks rob

Renesays:

Read Acts 8:37 in NIV

Greg Newmansays:

Great article. PS I do wish some of my brethren would become familiar with snopes.com Not a Biblical website but a good one to check by before sending a “warning” group email.

Lukesays:

Sorry but snopes.com is a Leftist propaganda site and has zero credibility.

Rob Buckinghamsays:

Thanks for the links Graham

Matt Murphysays:

Great explanation thanks Rob.

Dave Pellowesays:

KJV only folks are cute. Did Jesus & Paul use the KJV? What about churches in Italy, Germany, & China? Should they use the KJV only?

Great article, well written, easy to read & follow. Excellent point comparing people prohibiting a Bible in our language.

Bayside church membersays:

thanks Rob

Neil Bachsays:

Thanks Rob for a useful clarification. The NIV is still a v. good translation. I’ve just finished a biography of Leon Morris, who translated parts of the current NIV here in Melbourne when it was first done. He thought the idea of ‘boomeranging’, a word he made up, might fit a verse on repentance, but perhaps it was not international enough, and never made the cut, despite his innovative thought!

Rob Buckinghamsays:

I love that term and the picture it gives Neil. That’s the point of Scripture – to communicate in a given culture an accurate picture of what was intended by the original authors. For example, when I teach on repentance I often use the picture of “Chucking a Uy” (i.e. a U-Turn) which is very well understood in an Aussie context and is an accurate translation of the original intent of the word “repent.”

Janet Dicksonsays:

Neil Bach – interested in your biography of Leon Morris. Is it published? He was an amazing man. I heard him lecture a number of times and was so impressed at his humility. Love his writing.

Neil Bachsays:

Janet,
I imagine I answered at the time, but I cannot find my note. Yes the biography of Leon Morris is published and available at Koorong bookshop, or if you prefer digital on Amazon.com. The publisher is Authentic Media.

Tony Wilkin-Smithsays:

All this is very interesting. But, isn’t the real reason for the variations between the KJV and the NIV that they were translated from two different manuscripts. One used by the KJV translaters which has been in circulation for hundreds of years and another favored by the NIV translaters a compilation of various recently discovered manuscripts.
God has sent us His Word a clear trumpet call.
“Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. Mark 13:31 KJV. And James1:17 KJV. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning”.
But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Cor. 2:16. Our challenge is to use this mind to discern the Truth.

Rob Buckinghamsays:

Yes, that’s correct Tony. The more recently discovered manuscripts are older than the ones used for the KJV – and hence deemed to be more accurate. I’ve mentioned this is my blog.

Janet Dicksonsays:

Both versions use more than one manuscript. Every translation takes all the most reliable manuscripts into account – that’s part of the translator’s job, to make an assessment of what is the most reliable text. I don’t see any verses that have been removed from the NIV (incidentally they are also removed in the much older Revised Version and other versions), contain anything that changes the gospel. God’s word is definitely protected – there are many more manuscripts than for any other ancient document. The point is, though, there is no one manuscript which has come down, containing a definitive version of the NT. All translations have to take various manuscripts into account. It’s not surprising that there are some minor differences – what is more wonderful is that there are so few differences.

Camsays:

Hi Rob
I can see the justification for minor re wording
However to completely remove scripture from the bible requires a little more than a Flippant
Oh well it wasn’t that important.

Some of my the verses removed completely from the bible do have very important implications not only to Christian theology but also to our victory in Christ.
I believe that the word of God requires a great deal more respect than it had been allowed with this amendment.
Can’t help but hear that scripture reminded me of the dangers of adding or taking away from Gods word.

Rob Buckinghamsays:

I appreciate your concerns Cam and I certainly would never endorse a flippant handling of God’s Word. The key thing to remember here is that the verses in question should probably never have been included in the Bible in the first place. They were from later manuscripts that are less accurate than the older ones that have been discovered since the translation of the KJV.

Ciansays:

Anyone who completed highschool English can understand the KJV, it’s contemporary to Shakespeare which is studied in the classrooms.
Shakespeare was a mere man, and they dare not “update” his language, who is so proud that they can “update” the word of God?
If English teachers in public school have enough integrity to teach Shakespeare, we Christians should have enough integrity to preach with kjv.

Nancysays:

Even the KJV has been changed outrageously! It is the closest to original scripture, I believe though and I do still use mine. We can’t take even these reconstructed Bibles for granted anymore. Everything has to be tested and studied. As sad as that is!

Marksays:

Great Article Pastor Rob. Sometimes though substitutions can get confusing. When Saints was changed to ‘Holy ones’, some people thought that Holy ones were angels. No reason for NIV to change the word Saints that I can think of. Also, I do believe the apocryphal books should never have been removed from the new versions of the Bible. I find no fault with these.

Phillip Parkersays:

The NIV Bible has removed all references of the word fornication and sodomite. Instead these have been generalised to include the broader terms such as sexual immorality. It is also true that Dr. Virginia Mollenkott who is an open lesbian, provided consultancy work for the editing of the NIV bible.

With that said, my primary study text is a 1984 NIV Study Bible. By if I have any doubt about what I am reading, I always refer to my 1611 King James Bible (or my Blue letter bible app) – which shows the original intended word – although it is prudent to mention that some words in Hebrew or Ancient Greek has no English equivalent.

It is of no surprise that the LGBTI lobbyist often refer to the NIV Bible or verses to promote their point of view, however I believe that even with questionable people being involved in bible publishing projects, God has built so many redundancies into the Bible where the truth can be tested. It is clearly evident in the scriptures that God puts his word above all else. So when in doubt, continue searching the scriptures.

Nancysays:

The point I think many are making is The Word should not be changed! It is up to us to ask for guidance in INTURUPPTING His word. No one has been appointed to translate for us. That is where studying comes in. As for publishing companies that want to publish The Bible and many other types of books like the ones mentioned in the article; well that is between them and YHWH! We were already warned about being lukewarm

Vernonsays:

AGREED.

Bradsays:

The NIV is a modern perversion of the Word of God. Sorry but there are very significant differences between the KJV and the NIV – that affects MANY doctrines, in particular salvation by works – which the NIV subtly pushes. There is one translation that is God’s TRUE Word and that is the KJV. The number of new translations coming out each year are not to keep up with language changes, they are to line the pockets of businesses. Printing new Translations has simply become a way to make a profit out of Christians and is completely unnecessary.

Please stick to the only TRUE Word of God, which has stood the test of time for centuries and is PERFECTLY easy to understand still. The King James Version.

Vernonsays:

Agreed

Alansays:

If only the NIV was written to be as reliable as KJV, and not to praise the corrupt codices and texts., look into the history of the westcott & hort and you’ll go for KJV..

Jasonsays:

Good article but…..I once read a very strong explanation of why older texts are not necessarily more accurate. They can just be old inaccurate texts.

Sandrasays:

Interesting comments

Davesays:

Acts 8:37 – Is in the Textus Receptus – not NIV or many others which use other manuscripts. Since it shows a profession of faith is required for baptism, it is rejected by older mainline churches. It is a good test of an accurate translation. NKJV, NASB, KJV and others have it.

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