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The Hidden Agenda Behind the NIV Bible


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NIV- An unreliable translation of the Bible?


I was exposed to how prone to error the NIV translation of the Bible was in the past, but not to this extent!


(I myself prefer the NASB, NRSV, or the ESV versions of the Bible.  The only times I read or encounter the NIV these days are Sundays at church.)


The NIV is arguably the most popular translation of the Bible in America, or at least one of the most popular throughout the world.  Therefore, could millions of Christians over the years been misled in our understanding of the Bible by the NIV translators?


Lots of times, we want the Bible (or even God for that matter) to fit into our own image and conform to our view of the world or reality, and not the other way around.  It seems as if those who came up with the NIV seem to have placed the conservative evangelical doctrine of the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture front and foremost, and let that be the driving motivation behind the translation, which then leads to gross misinterpretations and even erroneous belief systems.


In my view, this is blatant bibliolatry in many respects.


This is from this blog site:


Exodus 6:2–3 — The NRSV correctly reads “God also spoke to Moses and said to him: “I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name ‘The Lord’ I did not make myself known to them.” The NIV obscures the problem of Yahweh being unknown to the patriarchs despite the use of “Yahweh” in Genesis (especially 4:26) by adding the word “fully” without textual justification: “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself fully known to them.


Deuteronomy 32:43 — The NRSV correctly reads “Praise, O heavens, his people, worship him, all you gods!” The NIV omits the polytheistic reference, and instead says, “Rejoice, you nations, with his people.” A footnote claims that this is the reading of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint, but the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QDeutq), our oldest witness to the text, actually match the NRSV’s translation.


Judges 5:8a — The NRSV correctly reads “When new gods were chosen, then war was in the gates,” which matches the somewhat ambiguous Hebrew and the more straightforward LXX. The NIV has chosen to reinterpret the verse quite differently as “God chose new leaders“, adding the words “leaders” (which is not in the text) and changing the plural “gods” (including the matching plural verb) to “God”.


Matthew 28:9, 17 — Here again, although the Greek text intends to convey homage and obeisance paid to Jesus by the disciples, the NIV cannot resist making the passage reflect the translators’ own piety and modern theology by having the disciples worship Jesus: “They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him” (verse 9). The YLT correctly reads “they did bow to him”.


Mark 1:10 — The Greek unmistakably says that the Spirit descended “into him” (Jesus), and critical exegesis of the text by scholars supports this meaning. However, due to the christological problems with this wording, the NIV and most other translations change it to “on him”.  (cf. Edward P. Dixon’s discussion of the phrase in ‘Descending Spirit and Descending Gods: A “Greek” Interpretation of the Spirit’s “Descent as a Dove” in Mark 1:10’, JBL Vol. 128/4, 771–772.)


John 6:63 — The NRSV correctly reads “it is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” The Greek word for spirit, pneuma, also means “breath” or “wind” and refers simply to the animating essence of living bodies. However, the NIV capitalizes “Spirit” and adds the definite article “the” in order to import trinitarian doctrine into the verse, which changes its meaning in a way not justified by the Greek: “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of theSpirit and life.” [See BeDuhn, Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testamentpp. 145–146.]


Galatians 1:8 — The Greek says “let him be accursed”, but the NIV reads “let him be eternally condemned!”, a theological interpretation that is not justified by the text. (Note: The 2011 version has changed this verse to say “let them be under God’s curse”, which is only somewhat better. The Greek does not say “God’s curse”, and this phrase is grammatically poor, lacking agreement between “them” and its antecedents. This might be an example of the 2011 NIV’s clumsy attempts at gender-neutral translation.)


Remember, this is just a small sampling of the often deliberate ways the NIV tries to obscure troublesome verses in the Bible that do not fit well with modern conservative theology.  Some of these seemingly minor mistranslations seem innocuous at first, but these errors accumulate quite fast and are quite heavy when you take everything into account.


Personally, I’m re-examining from a strictly biblical point of view any evidence as to whether or not the first Christians worshiped Jesus or thought of him as divine.  It’s not as clear cut as you think it is.  This has implications to a whole slew of other cherished doctrines like the Trinity and the divinity and personhood of the Holy Spirit.


Some things to ponder about.


Any defenders of the NIV out there?









  1. Sara says:

    My friend,

    I do believe many things get lost in translation, which is why I use an ISA Bible and refer to multiple translations. However, I do think you are wrong in which you are say the NIV “deliberately tries to obscure troublesome verses in the Bible”. You may be right I do not know for sure but I have to believe like most of us we mess up, we fail, we misinterpret, what the scripture is saying.

    Have you not ever read scripture interpreted it one way only to find out some time later You had it backwards?

    I have.

    Also please correct me if I am wrong but I think that the point of your post is to show people that their are mis-translations in the scripture but looking outside in it seems that you are wanting to argue.

    My friend I hope you do not take offence to my comments because we are on the same team but I felt it needed to be said.

    Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

    • Hi Sara,

      Thank you for your reply.

      My intent in this post was not to pick a fight or to argue or to cause people to stumble in his or her relationship or faith in God. I just want people to be aware of these issues that most people would not think about on a day to day basis.

      There is no “perfect” translation of the Bible of course, and every translation that purports to be the “most accurate” will undoubtedly have its issues and critiques from others. Just like the preface to my NIV translation states: “Like all translations of the Bible, made as they are by imperfect man, this one undoubtedy falls short of its goals.” And of course like everyone else, I have on many occasions misinterpreted or misapplied the Bible many, many times.

      With that said however, what troubles me is the statement the “Committee on Bible Translation” stated near the beginning: “the translators were united in their commitment to the authority and infallibility of the Bible as God’s Word in written form.” It’s the “infallibility” part that gets to me that sets up this entire agenda. When the Committee comes across passages in parts of the text that seem to contain difficulties or contradictions, they’ll adjust the text to fit in with the “infallibility” part, and they’ll do anything to make sure that doctrine is upheld. To me, that’s being dishonest. That’s what bothers me, and that’s where the “deliberately tries to obscure troublesome verses in the Bible” statement comes from.

      Let the text speak for itself- even with all its seeming contradictions and factual errors. But I don’t think they did it w/ malicious intent b/c most people cannot emotionally deal with the Bible being prone to error or contradictions – it seems like it’s due to more “pastoral” concerns.

      The big problem I see here is that many Christians equate God and the Bible together. (Or succinctly, God = The Bible) No one will admit this, but they unconsciously believe this.

      People must realize the Bible for what it is – a living testimony of those who witnessed God and Jesus Christ. The true “Word of God” is not the Bible, but Jesus Christ himself (John 1:1). People who emphatically believe that the Bible is the “Word of God” treat it like it’s some book with “magical” properties or “supernatural” qualities – case an point, Christians always say, “The Bible says…” as if it’s some divine person or a 4th member of the Trinity. It is God who saves us, not the Bible. I believe when people realize this, they’ll have a deeper appreciation of the Bible and hopefully a better and deeper understanding of his or her faith. (A goal I hope this site can live up to.)

      I post such things not to bash or diminish the Bible in any way, but because I take the Bible very seriously and passionately like I believe you do as well. The Bible is invaluable in the life of a believer today as a source of comfort, guidance, devotion, etc., but it cannot be an “ultimate” in a person’s life – then it becomes an idol. But I think these important issues that are addressed in this post should be taken into consideration by anyone else who takes the Bible seriously as well.

      I take absolutely no offense to your comments at all and I wholeheartedly welcome them with an open heart and mind, and I cherish and value what comes from your heart, and I am very blessed because of this.

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