We have begun using the English Standard Version (ESV) translation of the Bible. Immanuel has used the NIV (New International Version) for many years. So, why the change?
The NIV has its origins in the early 1970's. The New Testament came out in 1973; the entire Bible in 1978. The translation was immediately popular, due to its excellent balance of accuracy and readability. In 1984 it went through a revision, typically called the NIV-84. It became the best-selling Bible in the English-speaking world for most of the last 30 years.
In the early 2000's Biblica (which owns the copyright to the NIV) began hinting that the translation was due for another revision. Early drafts of it were mailed out for comment. Most thought the revisions had gone too far down the road of political correctness, that accuracy was sacrificed for the sake of a lowered reading level, and that many of the changes were not suitable for usage in public worship services. Many urged Biblica not to proceed.
Sadly, Biblica forged ahead, and finally published the new (but not improved) NIV in 2011.
At Immanuel we used the NIV-2011 for about six months, before reverting to the NIV-84. You've seen the NIV-84 in our bulletins ever since.
In the local church, one part of producing a bulletin is downloading Bible texts from a web-site. The best web-site has been, and still is, Bible Gateway. About a year ago Biblica ordered Bible Gateway to stop making the NIV-84 available. In response, we found other web-sites. A couple weeks ago Biblica mandated that all such web-sites cease making the NIV-84 available.
Biblica does indeed hold the copyright to the NIV. They're within their rights. But it's not hard to see their efforts to squelch the NIV-84 as heavy-handed and legalistic. Why not provide both? We don’t know why they answered as they did. All we can see is the decision that's been made.
One possibility is for us to manually type all biblical texts into our bulletins. We've done this a couple times, and despite multiple layers of proof-reading, this is how typos get introduced.
An alternative is to switch to a different translation of the Bible. But which one? There are several excellent choices, but the truth is that Immanuel doesn’t operate in a vacuum. We're part of a Synod—and Synod has already adopted a translation. That translation is the ESV.
Every translation (as has already been said) must balance accuracy and readability. In that effort, the NIV-84 was a real gem.
The ESV aims a little more at word-for-word accuracy. It's often familiar to anyone who has memorized a lot of verses from any of the older translations. But it's also in modern English, and never uses words such as "thee" or "thy." It's excellent for anyone working with a concordance.
The ESV is the version used in our new hymnal. It's used in Sunday School materials. It's used in CPH school curricula. For this last reason, it's the version that our own school has been using for a year-and-a-half.
The demise of the NIV-84, is lamentable, but none of us has control over that. Since a change has been forced upon us, it just makes good sense to get in sync with the hymnal, with the Synod, and even with our own school.