The NIV has been revised twice, once in 2002 then again in 2011. These revisions have reversed some of the “gender neutral” language, apparently in recognition of the fact that maybe at times they went too far. This was fine, but the problem for me came when the International Bible Society, which owns the rights to the NIV, retired the original translation. It is no longer available. Unfortunately that was the translation I preferred. Since it is gone I will have to make a change. Should I stick with the most recent NIV revision, or should I look for something else?
At the other end of the continuum is something called “Dynamic Equivalence.” Translators using this approach try to capture the thought of the author rather than just translate his words directly. This, of course, involves more interpretation, for one must decide exactly what the thought of the author is. Dynamic Equivalence translations will often aim at making the text more readable and pleasing in the modern language, while Formal Equivalence texts can be a little stilted at times. The NIV and the New Living Translations are examples of Dynamic Equivalence.
No translation is purely “Formal” or “Dynamic.” All lie somewhere along that continuum. It is a continuum that ranges from very close to literal but not very readable on one hand, to easily readable but not very literal. So the translation one chooses should depend on what one is looking for. I have used the NIV for a long time as my basic Bible. Prior to that I favored the New American Standard. Since it is time for a change I think I will likely go back in that direction. It is good to have various translations available for comparison’s sake. But since I have been more on the “readability” end of the scale with my basic Bible for some time I think it may be a good thing to move back toward the “literal” end for a while. The best options there are the NAS, the English Standard, and the Holman Christian Standard. Now all I have to do is decide.