"DID YOU KNOW?" will be a summer series where we review issues of the Bible and the Christian faith of special interest. If you have a suggestion/question that you'd like addressed in a "DID YOU KNOW?" segment, please e-mail the coaches.
Why did Bible Quizzing switch from the NIV to the ESV as the translation we study?
Since the 1980's, EFCA Bible Quizzing used the New International Version (NIV) for all of our competitions. It was chosen because of the quality of its scholarship, its readability, and its accuracy. A few years back, EFCA Bible Quizzing switched to the English Standard Version (ESV).
In 2011, Biblicia - the organization that owns the rights to the NIV - released a new revision to the translation. Their intention was to update the translation with the newest scholarship, and to reflect changes in the English language since 1984. Their revisions were significant (see here for a full listing) and especially focussed on introducing gender-neutral language to many scriptures where the existing gender-interpretation could be seen to change the meaning of the text. After much debate, many Evangelical churches, leaders, and denominations decided they could not endorse the 2011 version. Biblicia, at the same time, forbid anyone to continue publishing the previous 1984 version. So, Bible Quizzing needed to decide whether to move to the (controversial) NIV 2011 or consider moving to another translation.
At the same time, a new version - based on the venerable Revised Standard Version (RSV) was released in 2011, called the English Standard Version. It was widely praised for the quality of its scholarship, its readability, and its accuracy. (Sound familiar?) And it was released with liberal electronic licensing (free versions online, free versions on eBooks, and free apps) that would be valuable for study and quizzing.
So, the leadership of EFCA Bible Quizzing decided it was time for a change and announced that we would be moving to the ESV for the 2013-2014 season.
So which translation is really "better"?
The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament). Anytime you see it in English, it is a translation and decisions must be made. The best translations balance precision with readability, so that the meaning of the original language comes through without sounding like a foreign language.
The NIV 2011 takes a number of liberties with the text which are controversial. But it does address some real problems with the original NIV, and is very natural and readable.
The ESV is much more precise, verging on a literal reading of the text. But that means the language contains a larger vocabulary, sometimes is a bit wooden, and can be harder to read.
Should I be worried about the change?
No. The ESV is an excellent translation. Your first day reading it, things may seem a bit strange. But you will quickly get used to the language. And the language is a bit more poetic, so you may even find it easier to memorize the FTVs!