We're memorizing Philippians 2, as well as some of Philippians 4 this year. So I went to biblegateway.com to print off those passages, and I realized that the "1984 NIV" version was no longer an option.
When I was little, and we were stationed in Okinawa, I did all my Bible memorizing in the KJV. But then we moved back to the States, and the NIV Bible started becoming popular. I had to memorize Bible verses each week for Dayton Christian, and eventually I started memorizing those in the NIV. My NIV student Bible was what I read for my quiet times all the way through college, and when I graduated from college, Bob got me a new NIV study Bible. So I pretty much "grew up" with the NIV.
Now I have never been an "NIV only" kind of person. I enjoy hearing other translations, and I even read different ones on my own for a fresh perspective. Our church uses the ESV, which is good, but it is very clunky. I do not prefer memorizing out of it, for sure.
Anyhow, all that to say, I was very surprised to discover the 1984 NIV was no longer on biblegateway. I knew a new version of the NIV had come out in 2011 (I remember reading about the gender-neutral language controversy), so the old version wasn't being sold in stores any more, but I just figured the powers that be would always leave the old version up online so it would be searchable. I wrote a quick email to the website and got this reply:
Thank you for contacting us. We appreciate hearing from you.
Our publishing partner, Biblica, who generously provides the NIV text to Bible Gateway, has requested the removal of the older NIV (1984 edition) and the TNIV resources on February 28th, 2013.
During the transition to the most recent edition of the NIV (first published in 2010), the older 1984 edition and the TNIV were made available for more than two years on Bible Gateway to make it easy for people to compare the upgrades in the text as they transitioned to the current edition. Now that this transition period is over, the NIV’s worldwide publisher, Biblica, has requested that we remove the older 1984 and TNIV editions from Bible Gateway.
Bible Gateway is a distributor of Biblical content and does not have control over the sale nor free distribution of Bible texts. We have abided by legal licensing restrictions and have complied with Biblica’s request.
Older editions of the NIV will no longer be available on Bible Gateway or any website. We’ve provided further information on the transition of the NIV through:
If you wish to contact Biblica directly concerning the removal of the NIV 1984, you can reach them through:
Again, thank you so much for contacting us. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you online.
I did contact Biblica (which used to be known as the International Bible Society, back when they weren't so politically motivated), and the guy wrote me back there as well. He said:
Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns about the status of the NIV.
We understand your dismay over the discontinuation of the 1984 copyright of the NIV. To explain why this process was done, when the new edition of the NIV was announced several years ago we said there would be a gradual two-year transition from the old to the new. As part of this plan we temporarily kept the old (1984) edition of the NIV available online, primarily so people could compare it with the newer edition. The transitional phase came to an end on February 2013. As a result, there are no plans to restore the 1984 NIV in print or online.
Typically, when a new edition is published, the old one is discontinued. That was true for previous versions of the NIV, and it’s true for other translations like the NASB, NLT, and ESV. This is typically the case because the newest edition reflects the translators’ latest and best work.
In fact, we believe the NIV is the very best translation we can offer. We know good people will disagree on Bible translation, and that not everyone will share our enthusiasm for the updated NIV. But we stand behind the translators and their sacrificial work. We want to honor their commitment by giving people the very best edition of Scripture possible. This is the core reason behind the change from the 1984 to 2011 edition of the NIV.
He went on to say that at some point the old NIV would be housed in an online archive at Wheaton College. That doesn't sound like something that is going to be easily accessible to the average joe! Also, he told me I should investigate the new NIV further, since it is "95%" the same. I had actually done some research on that fact earlier, and while the text may in fact be 95% the same, a much smaller percentage of verses are actually the same. They changed words in most verses, so if you are trying to remember a verse where you can only think of a fragment of it, and you try searching for it online, well, you will be out of luck, because often the key words in verses were changed.
I don't even think the guy understood my concern. We're not talking about an old translation of War and Peace or something. This is the version of the Bible that a grand majority of believers used for 25 years just *poof* disappearing, as if it never existed! When I wrote back, I told the guy the only reasons I could think of to not make the old version available online were political (supporting the gender-neutral wording that caused controversy) or financial (hey, we'll force everyone to buy new Bibles!). Obviously I don't support either of those motives.
But more importantly, why on earth would I ever invest a minute in a translation that I know will disappear on a moment's notice, as soon as those translators as Biblica get a wild hair and decide to do another translation. Maybe this one will only be around 10 years! Who knows?
So I have resolved not to ever knowingly buy a new version of the NIV Bible (one published in 2011 or later). I've searched online, and I have already bought 3 old NIV Bibles for the girls, and I just need to buy a few more student Bibles so the younger boys can each have one. That way when they are thinking back on the passages that we have memorized and they can't remember the wording, at least they will have a Bible to refer back to. Just look for used Bibles with the old publishing dates. I wanted to buy them before they get really valuable!
I told the guy at Biblica that his email made me certain that the new NIV was not the Bible for me. I will stick with the ESV for any new Bibles I buy. I just don't like memorizing from it. It really doesn't flow well, no matter how accurate it might be. Maybe we'll go back to memory work from the KJV--I don't think that version is going anywhere!