I know, I know, the NIV is the most popular English translation of the Bible and has been for the last twenty-five years. I grew up with the NIV. That’s all I read until a few years after Bible college when I finally admitted to myself that I was no longer really reading the Bible when I read the NIV but was reading a severely limited Protestant evangelical summation of it. Sound harsh? I don’t hate the NIV. It simply got to the point that nothing in it surprised me anymore. I’d read it cover to cover at least a few times and I needed to try some translations that were new to me. At first I went with the REB, and then I went to the NRSV, then I went to the NASB. I got back into the Amplified Bible in reading my mom’s articles. In short, my problems with the NIV were simply due to overuse. When every time I heard the Bible read it was from the NIV and every time I read it myself it was the same, the world of the Bible got quite small and familiar. This happened quite quickly for me while reading The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson. That Bible left me thinking the Bible was written for upper middle class Portlanders with a guilty conscience.
We English only speakers need to stop thinking God speaks our language. We should read the Bible hard enough to question our assumptions. And where the jury is out we should read enough translations to let the Bible be just plain difficult. Wanting things easy usually means wanting God to give me a tailor-made world where I know just what to expect. That’s certainly not the world of the Bible.