Monday, October 26, 2015

does the new NIV distort the Scriptures? - part 4

A few minutes trolling around online will produce dozens of websites warning you about the dangers of the NIV.

Here's a quote from one of my "favorites":
"Did you know that it was written by Zondervan and they are OWNED by Harper Collins, who also publish The Satanic Bible, and the Joy of Gay Sex. NIV has removed 64,575 words from the Bible including Jehovah, Calvary, Holy Ghost and omnipotent to name but a few . . . NIV has also removed 45 complete verses."
In my next post I will respond to the more serious charge, that the NIV "removed" verses from the Bible. But first let me set the record straight:
Zondervan chooses the binding and
style of the NIV Bibles they print,
but they are not involved in the
translation (Photo: C. Imes)
  1. Zondervan is a reputable Christian publishing house, fully staffed by evangelical believers, and it continues to produce some of the finest resources available for Christian Bible study today. Yes, it was bought by HarperCollins, a secular publishing house, but Zondervan retains full control of the editing process and employs believing scholars to do this work. The content of books published by the parent company in no way affects the quality or accuracy of Zondervan's publications. 
  2. Even so, Zondervan did NOT "write" the NIV, nor did they translate it. The work was done by a team of Christian scholars (the Committee on Bible Translation, or CBT) working under Biblica according to the wishes of the original translation team. Zondervan simply makes the CBT's translation available to the wider world, choosing the binding, the size and color of the font, and the formats in which it will be printed.
  3. If a word appears to be "missing" from the NIV, it has disappeared for one of two reasons. Either the translators felt that a different word would more accurately convey the original Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic text, or the translators determined that a word or words did not belong in the translation because the best ancient manuscripts did not include it
The word "Jehovah" is a good example. No such word exists in Hebrew. God revealed his personal name to Moses in Exodus 3:14. We can be confident that the consonants of that name are YHWH. (This is sometimes called the "Tetragrammaton," because it is made up of just four letters). However, scholars are not exactly sure which vowels were used to pronounce his name. Ancient Hebrew was written for centuries with only consonants. [Ths snds crzy bt w cn rd wtht vwls n nglsh s wll]. By the time helpful scribes decided to add dots and dashes to the Hebrew text to indicate the proper vowels (long after the time of Christ), pious Jews refused to pronounce God's personal name out of reverence. For that reason, when pious scribes added vowels to the name YHWH they deliberately used the wrong vowels so that no one would accidentally say God's name out loud. The vowels were intended to remind people to say "Adonai" (Lord) or "HaShem" ("the Name") in place of YHWH.

Some time ago, Bible scholars who did not understand this convention tried to pronounce God's Hebrew name by reading what they saw in the text -- the consonants YHWH, and the vowels meant to signal Adonai. The result was a nonsense word -- Yehowah, or Jehovah. Scholars since figured out their error, but not before hymns, churches, and even whole movements (like the "Jehovah's Witnesses") had employed the erroneous word. No one is absolutely sure how the consonants YHWH were to be pronounced. It might have been Yahweh. Another possibility is Yahu. We just don't know.

Exodus 3:15 (NIV)
Photo: C. Imes
Since the pronunciation is uncertain, most English translations have chosen to render the Tetragrammaton with four uppercase letters in English: LORD. Whenever you see that in your Bible, you can be sure that the Hebrew behind it is God's personal name, YHWH. If you see "Lord," then it's translating the Hebrew title that means "lord" or "master": Adonai.

So, did the NIV "remove" the word Jehovah from the Bible? Not exactly. They just chose to represent the Hebrew name YHWH in a different way. In my next post, I'll tackle the other part of this accusation -- that the NIV removed dozens of verses from the Bible.

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