NIV Trilogy

The Accuracy of the NIV - 1996
The Making of the NIV - 1991
The Balance of the NIV - 1999

1996, 126 pp., $11.99
1991 (sic), 175 pp., $12.99
1999, 139 pp., $13.99

By Kenneth L. Barker

Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books (all three books)

Your reviewer has deliberately delayed this review until all three of these books were published. The second of those listed above reports a copyright date of 1991, even though my review copy was not received until mid-October of 1997. Furthermore, the jacket of the first title explicitly says that it is the first to be published in this series. I have no explanation for this discrepancy.

Kenneth L. Barker is the Executive Director of the NIV Translation Center. Not surprisingly, these volumes are all supportive of the NIV’s superiority or, at any rate, of the rationale for its renderings.

The first volume answers questions about the NIV’s handling of the original languages by defending the NIV committee’s word choices on a case-by-case basis. Barker addresses fifty OT and one hundred NT passages. In the appendices he responds to allegations that the committee deliberately skewed passages to favor, for example, homosexuality or new age philosophy, or that the translators erred in declining to base their work on the Textus Receptus.

The second volume addresses fourteen aspects of the NIV such as The Importance of the Literary Style, The Footnoting System, establishing the respective original language texts, the representation of Biblical poetry, OT quotations in the NT, the literal versus accurate question, and the anglicizing of the translation. The author/editor notes, “Presented here are some of the whys and hows in the making of the NIV — a look behind the scenes by an English stylist and 13 of the original translators.” This volume is dedicated to Dr. Edwin Palmer, who served as Executive Secretary of the NIV Committee and as co-ordinator of all translation work until his death on Sept. 16, 1980.

The third and final volume attempts to count for the fact that the NIV has been the best-selling English translation of the Bible. In a word, Barker’s answer is balance, and proceeds to explain and illustrate this balance from a variety of perspectives. The book also includes an appendix that answers frequently-asked questions about the NIV translation process. The subtitle of this final volume is “What Makes a Good Translation.”