The delicate task of revising the Bible

When does reading the Bible produce strife among Christians? When a revision of the text is undertaken. So hold onto your hats as an updated version of the New International Version of the Bible (the bestselling Bible in North America) is prepared for release in 2011.

The intent, says Biblica, the Colorado-based ministry that holds the NIV copyright, is to update and improve the text.  The last time the group tried to introduce revisions – a decade ago – the effort  "fell flat," reports the Kansas City Star, due to disagreements over questions of gender. For instance, should "the sons of God" become "the children of God"? And should references to "brothers" be changed to read "brothers and sisters"?

Douglas Moo, a professor at Wheaton College and chairman of the Committee on Bible Translation, told the Star that this time around the group is committed to “a complete review of every gender related change.”

“I am not sure how it’s going to come out,” he said. “We have a genuine, authentic review process.... Everything is on the table." He did indicate, however, that "most changes will have nothing to do with gender inclusivity."

He suggested that Today's New International Version (the controversial text produced a decade ago) provides "a glimpse of likely changes." Some examples of those changes: In TNIV, Mary is said to be "pregnant" rather than “with child” and in one of the Psalms, the verse, “The Lord watches over the alien” is amended to read “The Lord watches over the foreigner.”

The NIV was first published in 1978 and there are more than 300 million copies in print worldwide. According to its publishers and distributors, the NIV accounts for 30 percent of Bibles sold in North America.

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