95 of 95 people found the following review helpful
I have been using the NIV Study Bible for twelve years and would recommend it as the first choice study Bible for what would still be my first choice translation.
This Study Bible offers a useful concordance and a complete suite of cross references in the margins. The NIV cross reference system used here is, in my opinion, more suitable than the Thompson Chain Reference system favoured by many.
About one third of each page is given over to brief commentator notes on key verses. These are written from a conservative scholarly position. We found these to be fairly written, offering a range of alternative interpretations where appropriate, and providing important cultural elucidation.
Additionally, there are a number of pages of timelines, sketch maps and summaries of key archaeological findings. These often have the effect of bringing a passage to life, or making sense of extensive geographical descriptions.
My only word of caution on this study Bible - and on all study Bibles and commentaries - is that it is important to remember that the commentator's notes are not part of the text. They _are_ open to dispute, and people coming from a liberal-critical position may well wish to argue with them. That said, we found all of the study apparatus to be objectively and fairly written.
As regards the text, the NIV has established itself as the most popular Bible translation among English speaking Christians, although it appears that atheists still prefer to purchase the King James Version. As somebody involved with translation every day, I have to say that I think that the NIV has struck a very good balance between dynamism and literalism, which is a translator's main objective. The NIV reads like good, coherent modern English. At the same time, close comparison with the Greek (for the New Testament) shows that it has also achieved a high degree of word for word equivalence.
The NIV is based on an eclectic text of the Old and New Testament which brings the best of modern conservative scholarship to bear on establishing the most accurate possible Greek and Hebrew. Some people seem to get very hung up on textual variants. However, the NIV footnotes conscientiously spell out alternate readings as they occur. In fact there are no Christian doctrines which depend on any verse where there is any degree of textual doubt, and the vast majority of variant readings are relatively trivial.
Critics of the NIV tend to come from either the liberal-critical or a minority extreme evangelical perspective. There are also critics from a purely literary traditional point of view.
Liberal critics have argued that the NIV is 'too evangelical', in that it is translated as if the Bible makes a coherent whole, as opposed to a set of diverse texts. However, most professional translators would argue that it is more objective to translate for coherence than to translate against it. Certainly this is the approach generally adopted in translations of other ancient texts. In fact, the alternate approach, which is favoured by the New Revised Standard Version, does not yield a very different translation.
A minority of evangelicals have argued that, by adopting a modern eclectic text as opposed to the Textus Receptus of Erasmus or the Majority Text, the NIV is less faithful to the textual tradition. To be fair, this is a relatively uncommon perspective.
Traditionalists and literary scholars have often argued that the King James Version should be preferred, since the translation is so rhythmic and beautiful. I would agree that the KJV is a work of art, and its influence on English Literature cannot be denied. However, given that the language is now inaccessible to most people, it has to be accepted that the KJV is no longer suitable as a day to day translation for Bible reading, Bible study, or use in churches.
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 26 April 2001
The NIV sturdy bible is an excellent translation of the sacred scriptures and the commentary throughout is always informative and able to shed light on the text. The only real downfall of the paperback edition is of course that it might not last as long under extensive use. It does however provide a more affordable alternative for students who only need it for the duration of a course of study. The maps are excellent and the essays on the books of the bible provide historical as well as theological information on the scriptures. Excellent.