The popular New International Version (NIV) of the Bible will be revised for the first time in 25 years, global ministry Biblica announced on Tuesday.
The updated version is slated for release in 2011.
"We want to reach English speakers across the globe with a Bible that is accurate, accessible and that speaks to its readers in a language they can understand," said Keith Danby, global president and CEO of Biblica.
First published in 1978 and revised in 1984, the NIV Bible was created out of a desire to provide a faithful translation of the Scriptures that spoke the language of 20th century English.
Although the NIV has become the most popular of all modern translations, it is becoming increasingly dated as time passes, Danby noted.
"If we want a Bible that English speakers around the world can understand, we have to listen to, and respect, the vocabulary they are using today," he said.
An earlier attempt to update the NIV failed in 1997 after conservatives denounced plans to use gender-inclusive language, which would rid the Scriptures of male pronouns.
Five years later, Biblica, then known as International Bible Society, released an updated English translation called Today's New International Version (TNIV) which was also met with criticism because of the use of gender neutral language.
Maureen Girkins, president and chief executive officer for Zondervan, which publishes the NIV and TNIV Bibles, acknowledged that the TNIV is divisive and said it will be taken off the market when the new revision is released, according to USA Today.
Those on the revising team cannot predict what will happen with gender usage when they begin their work on the new NIV. But along with re-examination on gender-related decisions, the team will be seeking feedback from the general public (nivbible2011.com).
Revisions will be made by members of the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT), an independent body of global biblical scholars that has the sole authority to update the text of the NIV.
"The new 2011 NIV is all about maintaining and enhancing the original values of the NIV for today's readers," said CBT Chairman Professor Douglas Moo.
"We're looking for a translation that is above all accurate – that says what the original authors said in the way they would have said it had they been speaking in English to the global English-speaking audience today. We're looking for a translation that offers clarity – where understanding comes naturally and readers can quickly grasp the original authors' ideas and the cadence of their language. We're looking for a translation that is suitable both for in-depth study and for outreach – a translation that Christians can share with their neighbors without hindrance whether they are experienced Bible readers or interested newcomers."
The CBT is scheduled to finish its revision late next year. The updated NIV will be published in 2011, the year which marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Version.
"Our goal in the NIV Bible translation mirrors that of the 17th Century translators themselves: to produce a Bible that removes all unnecessary obstacles to comprehension by drawing on the best available scholarship," said Moo.
More than 300 million copies of the NIV have been sold to people worldwide. Once the CBT completes its translation, Christian publisher Zondervan will produce print and digital versions of the updated NIV.