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Survey Shows NIV Bible is Most Popular among Pastors

( [email protected] ) May 06, 2004 12:06 PM EDT

Research on Bible preferences of Protestant pastors was carried out throughout the United States by Ellison Research. It finds the New International Version, or NIV, translation of the Bible is the most popular among pastors in general.

According to a statement from Ellison Research, the survey was conducted among a representative sample of 700 senior pastors of Protestant churches comprising a wide variety of denominations.

31 percent of ministers responded that NIV was their favorite version. The second most popular is the King James Version (23 percent), followed by the New Revised Standard (14 percent), the New King James (13 percent) and the New American Standard (10 percent).

The work on the NIV of the Bible begun in 1965 after the English Revised Version and American Standard Version had been published in England and America respectively. It was translated by over 100 scholars using currently available Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. The NIV was designed not for “word-for-word” accuracy, but rather, for “phrase-for-phrase” accuracy. The goal for this version was to produce an accurate translation that would have clarity and literary quality. It was completed in 1978.

Differences were also seen along denominational lines and thus affecting the popularity in geographical regions.

Methodists preferred the NIV (45 percent) and the NRSV (38 percent), while nearly half of Lutheran pastors reach for the NRSV (48 percent), compared to just 23 percent preferring the NIV.

Interestingly though, the preference is not very clear within the Southern Baptist clergy with NIV (26 percent), New King James (25 percent), King James (23 percent) and NASB (22 percent). Fifty-one percent of ministers from other Baptist denominations side with the King James version, while 24 percent say the NIV is their favorites.

The survey also found pastors of small churches and those over 60 years of age lean toward the King James Bible.

Concerning the basis for selection, ministers consider the perceived accuracy of the translation is the important (40 percent). The readability accounts for 16 percent, followed by its language style (14 percent) and its solid reputation (13 percent).

Detailed research results will be released in the May/June issue of Facts & Trends magazine, published by the Southern Baptist Convention.