What will an NIV revision have that the NET Bible hasn’t already got?


This is a sincere question. The more I look at the NET Bible, the more it seems to be a good successor to the NIV franchise. I say that because I personally have to wonder if the NIV will ever recover from the series of deadends that they’ve produced in the last decade in search of an update for the classic NIV.

I’ll admit up front that NET has a lot of stylistic problems that drive me crazy. For example, I can’t read the Psalms at all because they just sound too awkward. But the NET has a lot going for it:

  1. Wide acceptability: Despite making many of the same translation decisions as the TNIV, the NET hasn’t got any of the heat.
  2. Wide accessibility: It’s the premier electronic Bible translation available in more formats than any other Bible.
  3. Scholarship: Those notes!
  4. Free: It is a top-notch translation but without the kinds of usage restrictions that hinder NIV.

If Biblica wanted to save the NIV franchise, they might consider making the NIV Study Bible with text and notes freely available for download and republication. That would be a serious heavy-duty contender to the NET Bible. But I doubt they’ll do that and again the NET seems to rule the roost for freely-available Bible translations.

I’ll admit that the Zondervan/Biblica distribution system is hard to beat for print. But NET owns the Net.

What advantages should I anticipate in waiting for the 2011 NIV revision and then pitching out all my existing NIV resources that I can’t have right now with the NET?

What do you think?

19 thoughts on “What will an NIV revision have that the NET Bible hasn’t already got?

  1. Daniel Goepfrich says:

    Not really an answer to your question, but another point for the NET. I believe they are supposed to be coming out with NET2 in 2010 (before the NIV revision).

    I love the NET Bible – switched to it as my main teaching/preaching/study Bible over a year ago.

  2. ryan says:

    One difficulty with the NET is that the translation team, while filled with excellent scholars, is not diverse. Virtually everyone who worked on this is a DTS dispensationalist. I view diversity of the translation committee as a virtue. Even if an entire committee of evangelical protestants would provide more diversity of opinion than the NET provides. (I say this as a DTS grad who personally knows 3/4 of the translators.)

  3. Gary Zimmerli says:

    David, the only advantage I can see to waiting for the NIV 2011 is that then you would have the latest version of the NIV… if that can be considered an advantage.

  4. mgvh@ltsg says:

    I also greatly appreciate the NET Bible. We encourage its use in electronic form, and we have made the diglot Greek/English book a required text. (We use this as a way to have NA27 available.) While the notes are generally excellent, there is a clear difference in quality and theological perspective shown in different books. (Ie, it appears that the notes were not entirely vetted via a committee but instead reflect individual reflections.) So, as Ryan noted, more diversity along with more review will improve this excellent resource.

  5. Wayne Leman says:

    1. Wider accessibility. David, I think that one of the biggest advantages that NIV2011 would have over the NET Bible is related to your point #1. The NIV has a long history of even wider acceptability among evangelicals. It has been the pew Bible in many churches. I don’t know if the NET is the pew Bible in any churches. The NIV has been used for Scripture memorization for many.

    1. Smoother transition. Just like there is a low percentage of actual changes in the text from the RSV to the ESV (and so those who has previously used the RSV as their main Bible, such as Grudem and Poythress, and those from NCC churches, find the transition to the ESV smooth), there is a low percentage of changes in the text from the NIV to the TNIV. I anticipate that NIV2011 will be closer to the TNIV than the NIV, but will address some of the gender language that has been of greatest concern to some conservatives. So for the millions of evangelicals that are already familiar with the wording of the NIV, transitioning to NIV2011 should be smooth. It would be a much greater transition to NET, although, I, too, like NET.

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  7. Sue says:

    Junia as an apostle, perhaps. Alhough I do despair of the NIV on that one as well. It is perhaps the most unusual piece of exegesis yet that proposes the transiation “known to the apostles.”

    I am afraid that with the demise of the TNIV women will never regain the status they had in the Greek manuscripts. Perhaps the Common English Bible will do better.

  8. Tim Worley says:

    While I love and use the NET quite often, I don’t see myself (or many churches) switching over to it as a primary Bible anytime soon, partly because of its tendency for less traditional renderings. I don’t think that’s a bad thing in itself – it often sheds considerable light on a passage. My main reason is that, despite how it is perceived by many FE advocates, the NIV family of translations actually use a fair bit of traditional language, much more so than NET. This is appealing to me mainly for the pragmatic reason that the NIV/TNIV is more concordant in my mind with the language and renderings I grew up with (NKJV/NIV). That’s also the reason why, though I love the freshness and accuracy of the HCSB and NLT, I don’t anticipate using them as my primary translations – the renderings are just too different in places.

    So the issue for me in selecting a primary Bible is not only one of accuracy – were that the case, I might go with NET or HCSB. I also appreciate a text that allows for some carry-over and concordance with language I grew up with (and I’m only 25). When I “think Bible”, I tend to think NKJV (with some NIV thrown in), and the NIV family is sufficiently close as to enable me to connect quickly. I find consistency also helps with memorization – sometimes, I find that after comparing ten translations, I have a better overall grasp of the passage but a weaker grasp of the specific wording.

  9. David Ker says:

    I really appreciate everyone’s comments. I’ve used NIV for 20 years now as my primary Bible and am not in a hurry to change. I wonder about non-traditional and international distribution where NET might be able to fill a niche that NIV isn’t targeting. Living in Africa, it’s wonderful to be able to give someone an electronic copy of the NET Bible which I can’t do with the NIV.

  10. Curt Parton says:

    Tim, your perspective is interesting, and very different from what mine has been. I found the nontraditional readings in the NLT to be refreshing and quite helpful in teaching. It communicated more clearly to the newer believers, and challenged the veterans to think through the passage again in a fresh way (which they have been enjoying). But I understand your viewpoint as well. It’s intriguing how we can see the same translation qualities in very different ways.

  11. Kevin Sam says:

    The problem with the NET is that it’s too attached to the internet and not accessible on the bookshelves in the stores. If that can happen, maybe then…

  12. Tim Worley says:

    Right on, Kevin. I would certainly be interested in picking up a physical copy if I could actually view it and touch it in a local bookstore. I’ve also read some so-so reviews of the physical quality of the NET offerings. Now, if they would offer something in the range of the Zondervan Renaissance line of Bibles, I’d be all over it.

  13. Dru says:

    I like the NET Bible and I like the notes, but it doesn’t read very well. It’s a bit cloth eared. Also at the moment as far as I know, there’s no anglicised version and the printed books aren’t available outside the US.

  14. CD-Host says:

    David —

    One problem with your whole theory is that the NET is not quire free in the sense I believe you think it is. The licensing fee for the NET is 10% of invoice or $1 per copy whichever is greater. It is free for free use but for commercial use there are restrictions. Even for non commercial usage is bound on 50% of the derived work; cross redistribution rights….

    That being said the NET is an excellent bible and the study notes are quite good. I suspect though that if it were to move into a serious contender some of the notes would become a subject of controversy. Things like “the author of the fourth gospel” in place of “John”, would become issues of controversy.

  15. Jon says:

    The NIV is dropping the ball big time by not including the textual footnotes like the ISV, NET and HCSB have. That will doom it to never being used as a primary translation for serious study.

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