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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke June 10, 2024

The word of God wasn’t removed from this Bible, but some passages were moved to footnotes

If Your Time is short

  • Since 1978, the New International Version of the Bible has been revised twice, most recently in 2011, "reflecting new archaeological findings, current biblical scholarship and changes to the English language," according to HarperCollins, which owns the Bible’s publisher Zondervan.

  • Some passages and verses were relocated to footnotes in the New International Version to better reflect older and more reliable biblical manuscripts, the publisher said.

Recent social media posts recycle an old claim about an old book revised over centuries.

"VERY CRITICAL ALERT!!!" a May 29 Facebook post said before referring to the New International Version and English Standard Version Bible translations. "NIV was published by Zondervan but is now OWNED by Harper Collins, who also publishes the Satanic Bible and The Joy of Gay Sex. The NIV and ESV has now removed 64,575 words from the Bible

including Jehovah, Calvary, Holy Ghost and omnipotent to name but a few… The NIV and ESV has also now removed 45 complete verses."

This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

Zondervan is a Bible publisher that HarperCollins Publishers acquired in the 1980s. Zondervan publishes the New International Version and New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. (Another publisher, Crossway, publishes the English Standard Version.)

Zondervan didn’t respond to PolitiFact’s questions about the post. But in 2015, when this same "critical alert" was circulating the internet, Zondervan responded to another Facebook post sharing the claim that HarperCollins had removed 64,575 words and 45 complete verses from the New International Version. 

"Often times, readers will come across what they feel are ‘missing verses’ in their NIV Bible," Zondervan commented in the July 12, 2015, Facebook post. "These verses, however, are not really missing. They are included in the footnotes on the same page of the Bible where the ‘missing’ passage is located."

Why? Because during a translation for the New International Version, "some verses were found not to be included in the oldest or most reliable manuscripts that the NIV translators had available to use," Zondervan said in the post. "Most of these manuscripts were discovered after the King James Version was first translated, some 400 years ago."

When such verses couldn’t be verified by more reliable or older manuscripts, Zondervan said, translators moved them to a footnote "to reflect greater accuracy."

When another Facebook user criticized this explanation, Zondervan responded again, saying that although the King James Version’s translators used the best available manuscripts in 1611, since then, "many older manuscripts have been discovered and carefully evaluated by scholars."

The takeaway, according to Zondervan: The New International Version is truer to older manuscripts but "no doctrines of the Christian faith are affected by the differences" between it and the King James Version.

About 95% of the updated 2011 New International Version’s text is the same as the 1984 text it replaced, according to a website about the Bible from HarperCollins. A statement from the NIV’s Committee on Bible Translation about the updates includes examples of what was changed and why. Joseph’s "richly ornamented robe," in Genesis 37:3, for example, "suggests a garment with decorations hanging from it, but drawings and descriptions of comparable clothing from antiquity now suggest that ‘ornate’ is the best adjective to use."

"We are more certain than we were forty years ago that the Greek word kataluma used in Luke 2:7 means ‘guest room,’ not ‘inn,’" the statement says. "We likewise know that those crucified on either side of Jesus (called lēstai) were ‘rebels’ rather than ‘robbers.’" 

Biblica, a ministry founded in 1809, holds the New International Version copyright and licenses its commercial rights to Zondervan. It addresses the "missing verses" claim in the New International Version on its website, writing that the NIV committee aimed to "accurately translate the Word of God in a way that enables readers and listeners to hear the Bible as it was originally written, and understand the Bible as it was originally intended."

When comparing the New International Version, the English Standard Version and other versions to the King James Version, it would seem that there are some verses ‘missing,’ Biblica said in the undated post. "Actually, that is not the case."

The post echoes Zondervan’s comments on Facebook. 

The verses or phrases that appeared in the King James Version that have been "omitted" in translations today "are not found in the modest and most reliable manuscripts," Biblica said. Further, "the treatment of these verses has not changed recently and reflects a consensus among the majority of Bible scholars."

We rate claims that HarperCollins removed tens of thousands of words from the Bible False.

Our Sources

Facebook post, May 29, 2024

Facebook post, May 11, 2020

Facebook post, July 12, 2015

Crossway Publishing, visited June 10, 2024

Crossway, The History of the ESV, Oct. 8, 2021

HarperCollins Christian Publishing, OUR HISTORY, visited June 10, 2024

Business Insider, The Bible has been changed and altered over the years, Nov. 15, 2015

Biblica, Why does the NIV Bible omit or have missing verses?, visited June 10, 2024

HarperCollins Christian Publishing, ZONDERVAN DIVISIONS, visited June 10, 2024

NIV, Frequently Asked Questions, visited June 10, 2024

NIV, One Man’s Vision for the NIV, visited June 10, 2024

Updating the New International Version of the Bible: Notes from the Committee on Bible Translation, 2011

 

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The word of God wasn’t removed from this Bible, but some passages were moved to footnotes

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