Is Zondervan the Microsoft of Bible Translations?

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In 1984 Zondervan published what would become the most popular Bible translation in print, the NIV. In 2005 Zondervan published and updated version called the Today’s New International Version but it didn’t fare quite so well. The gender neutral language was good in some places but had its critics. So they came out with another update in 2011 that Zondervan is pushing as just the “New International Version”…no RNIV or NIV 2011. They are pushing this as the full fledged NIV.

That has problems. Lots of problems. As a minister, it is important to me to use translations that people have in their hand. In my study, I rely heavily on the electronic versions of these translations in order to develop curriculum, classes and sermons. Zondervan is removing the 1984 from circulation, not just in print but online as well. I think this is a big mistake that is going to force people to either choose a subpar 2011 NIV or else jump ship from Zondervan and the NIV completely to another publisher and translation…remember, many are now going digital for their Bible reading which nixes the 1984 NIV from availability to the public in that format (unless you have old Bible software already on your PC or Mac). What is more, I just heard from a friend that he requested permission from Zondervan to use verses from the NIV in a book he was writing. They told him he only had permission if he used the 2011 NIV, otherwise the answer was no.

What is the point? If there is a good one, they sure haven’t told us what it is. All this adds up to me to wondering what in the world Zondervan is thinking here. I am sure they have their reasons. I am sure they have marketing gurus who are better at this sort of thing than I am. But on the consumer end this doesn’t look good. It hasn’t been well communicated and it just makes Zondervan look sort of like the Microsoft of Bible translations…more likely improvement over time but some real setbacks along the way that just aren’t communicated or executed really well and that make the consumer aggravated and disgruntled and eventually pick the Mac of the translation world, the ESV.

9 Responses

  1. Seems like it’s a financial decision. That, and/or maybe Zondervan just feels a whole lot more comfortable with their latest edition? Personally, if it’s going to force countless Christians (and Christian teachers) to migrate to more literal translations, I like it. I say that with all due respect for the many godly men and women who currently use the older NIV’s.

  2. Another benefit of switching to Mac, is that, unlike the NIV, it has no sinful nature (sorry, couldn’t resist).

  3. Just go Mac, Matt. “Everybody’s doing it!” Lol Seriously though, I love the ESV. It was a difficult transition at first. All of my memory work and lessons that I had written used either KJV or ASV. But I love it now! Straightforward, literal, easy to understand and no more, “What are “old cast clouts” and “armholes” questions!

    1. Depends on your criteria. There are some improvements in the 2011 but I am still very tied to the language/wording of the 1984. It is pretty much what I have used my whole life. They are both good translations and will get the job done. My problem is more with how zondervan is doing this not so much a big gripe with the 2011.

  4. I’ve come to prefer the ESV over the NIV, although I used the NIV for more than 30 years. I also resent Zondervan’s manipulation of removing the earlier renditions of the NIV from circulation in the electronic media. Your likening them to Microsoft is very apt.

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