Missing Bible Verses in the NIV?

A Facebook friend shared this post recently.

This meme is an image devoid of a reference to an original source, but a simple web search turned up this. Here’s the text in case the page gets lost in the future:

Hello beloved saints,
I’m sure you know that NIV was published by Zondervan but is now OWNED by Harper Collins, who also publishes the Satanic Bible and The Joy of Gay Sex.

You should be aware that the NIV has now removed 64,575 words from the Bible including Jehovah, Calvary, Holy Ghost and omnipotent to name but a few…

The NIV has also now removed 45 complete verses. Most of us have the Bible on our devices and phones, this includes even the latest hardcopy of the NIV has been tempered with.

Try and find these scriptures in NIV on your computer, phone, the latest NIV hard copy Bible or device right now if you are in doubt:
Matthew 17:21, 18:11, 23:14; Mark 7:16, 9:44, 9:46; Luke 17:36, 23:17; John 5:4; Acts 8:37
…you will not believe your eyes.

Refuse to be blinded by Satan, and do not act like you just don’t care. Let’s not forget what the Lord Jesus said in John 10:10 (King James Version)

If you must use the NIV,
BUY and KEEP AN EARLIER VERSION OF the BIBLE. A Hard Copy cannot be updated. All these changes occur when they ask you to update the app. On your phone or laptop etc. Buy and KEEP EARLIER VERSIONS AND STORE THEM.

There is a crusade geared towards altering the Bible as we know it; NIV and many more versions are affected.

Since Erica Campbell is an apparently famous gospel singer with almost 1,000,000 Facebook fans, the audience for this post is undoubtedly quite large, and since the content is misleading and potentially damaging, it’s worth noting and commenting about. So I did comment on the post, a trimmed down version of this….

We need to exercise some discernment and not jump to emotionally-charged conclusions here. I recommend this long (and extensively researched and documented) article, very worth reading if you are interested in understanding the differences in versions of the bible. My 3 main takeaways:

  1. The most plausible explanation for the inclusion/omittance of these several words and verses is that they were added to manuscripts that made it into the KJV, not subtracted from the NIV, NASB, NRSV, etc. This is not a knock on the KJV; it’s just that the KJV translators relied on the best they had at the time, a particular ‘strain’ or ‘thread’ of the original-language manuscripts which was less complete and in some cases less original that what we have access to now.
  2. We know more about the text itself and the methods and habits of those doing the copying now than the KJV-era scholars knew, and this knowledge should be (and was) put to good use to authentically replicate what was originally written. The KJV-era scholars used a collection of manuscripts, containing differences, and had to do the best they could to determine the best reading that their collection represented. Modern scholars do the same, but the collection of manuscripts is larger (not because more have been produced since, but because more prior ones are included) and there are better ways to determine how differences came about.
  3. The article doesn’t explain/develop this, because it assumes that the reader knows this, but many don’t, so I’ll reiterate it: All modern translations are translated directly from the oldest and best original-language manuscripts available. No modern translation is a revision of a previous one; in other words, the NIV is NOT a re-write of the KJV or any other English-language ‘predecessor’. The language differences between the KJV and NIV are because a) the English language itself is different now than it was in the 1600s, and b) the body of manuscripts used for the NIV is larger than that used for the KJV. The NIV was not produced by changing the KJV to more modern English; it was produced by translating a more complete collection of original-language manuscripts into modern English.

We should celebrate the work of God through human translators to bring the 2000-3500 year-old scriptures into our modern 21st century English through the NIV 40 years ago (not to mention French and Spanish and German and Chinese and Arabic and Hindi and Kekchi and Tamil and Quichua and Cebuano and Kiswahili and many other languages), just as He brought the 1600-3100 year-old scriptures into the then-modern 17th century English through the KJV 400 years ago. There are many other English translations each with their own nuances, and sometimes scholars can gain a better understanding of a passage by comparing the versions and discerning which wording is more appropriate.

Now that you have a rudimentary understanding of the way the KJV and NIV were produced, let’s turn our attention back to the meme in question. There are two ways to interpret this meme:

  1. either it indirectly references the accusation that the NIV was translated from ‘corrupted’ ancient original-language manuscripts or intentionally corrupted when it was first published, or
  2. it specifically accuses a Zondervan-backed conspiracy of removing words and phrases recently, saying that words and verses are “now removed”, and tying this verbiage to the concept of digital media, a recent phenomenon.

Neither is true. I doubt the meme-writer or its propagators intend to educate people on the fact that the NIV was translated from ancient original-language manuscripts, if they even know themselves; it implies that the omissions are revisions internal to the NIV, that is, that the NIV itself is changing to exclude some words and verses.

The wording in this meme is ill-conceived or intentionally misleading, or a bit of both. Harper-Collins owns Zondervan, but does not “own” the NIV. The worldwide publisher and copyright holder is a group called Biblica, who licenses the commercial rights to Zondervan (who just markets and prints it) in the US. The group that developed the NIV would have serious legal issues with Zondervan if Zondervan changed it; Zondervan just prints exactly what it is given by Biblica. If there are “corruptions” in the text, those would be Biblica’s fault, not Zondervan’s. Check out Biblica’s website (http://www.thenivbible.com/about-the-niv/), and the Christian Research Institute’s article above, and note that the actual translation was painstakingly done by a diverse group of bible scholars (not by Biblica, and certainly not by a secular publishing company), and in a way that sought to accurately translate what the original writings said without any theological bias. Check for yourself – in the NIV, in all the cases that the meme gives as examples of stuff being removed, the NIV preserves these discrepancies by explicitly footnoting them and showing the reader that there are manuscripts which include them.

A parting thought: what if Harper-Collins is an agent of people who also publish material promoting beliefs and behaviors that are antithetical to Christianity? Their infrastructure is providing a means by which the bible can be disseminated cheaply and efficiently to millions of people throughout the world (or billions, if they are the ones publishing bibles in other languages as well) at a rate unprecedented in history. God used the godless Egyptians to preserve the Jews from devastating famine in Joseph’s time, and used the modern (for the time) travel infrastructure of the godless Roman Empire to propagate the gospel throughout Europe and Asia Minor in the first few centuries after Christ; even when people and governments and corporations conspire against Him, He uses what they mean for evil for His good: “ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good” – Gen 50:20 (KJV).

The hashtags on Ms. Campbell’s meme implore you to #readitforyourself #dontbedecieved #readtheHolyBible. But you should also #investigateitforyourself, and #dontbedecievedbymemesandhashtags.

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