The New International Version of the Bible is by far the most preferred translation of the Scripture, according to a new survey of U.S. evangelical leaders.
More than 65 percent of the participating leaders named the NIV as their preferred Bible in a survey conducted by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) in light of the NIV's 30th anniversary this year.
"New Bible translations face large competition to gain a foothold in churches and homes but once established they have long staying power," commented Leith Anderson, president of the NAE, which claims to represent 30 million evangelicals. "And, the NIV has maintained popularity and influence since it was published in 1978."
The survey questioned the 100 members on the NAE board of directors, which included heads of evangelical denominations with about 45,000 local churches, executives of para-church organizations, and heads of Christian colleges.
In the survey, evangelical leaders were asked, "What is your preferred English Bible translation?" and were left to write in their response rather than being given a list to choose from.
Nearly half (49 percent) of those surveyed named only the NIV as their preferred translation, while another 18 percent listed a second translation along with the NIV for a total of 67 percent selecting the NIV in the survey.
Among those who chose two translations, the other version listed included the New Living Translation, The Message, the New English Bible, the New Testament in Modern English (J.B. Phillips, 1962) and the King James Version of the Bible.
One denominational leader listed the NIV, the New King James Version and the Contemporary Parallel Bible which shows multiple translations side-by-side for comparison.
But among those that do not prefer the NIV Bible, there was no clear preference in translation that dominated the field. Translations that were most mentioned were The New Living Translation, the New American Standard Bible, the Revised Standard Version, the English Standard Version and the New King James Version. There was also one response each for the Amplified Bible and Today's New International Version (TNIV).
"Evangelicals agree that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God but have a long list of translations to pick from," said Anderson. "Translations come and go but the Bible lasts forever."
The NIV is the most popular modern English translation of the Bible in the world. It celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2008 with more than 300 million copies in print worldwide.