Book Review: The 2011 NIV Bible Zondervan, 2011 -- By: Bridget Jack Jeffries

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 25:1 (Winter 2011)
Article: Book Review: The 2011 NIV Bible Zondervan, 2011
Author: Bridget Jack Jeffries

Book Review: The 2011 NIV Bible
Zondervan, 2011

Reviewed by

Bridget Jack Jeffries

Bridget Jack Jeffries is an archivist and a master’s candidate in American church history at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. She holds a bachelor’s degree in classics from Brigham Young University. Bridget’s interviews on religion have appeared in The Washington Post and Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.


As I write this review, a worn Bible rests on my desk: the NIV (New International Version) that I owned as a teenager in the 1990s. The sixteenth chapter of Romans bears a number of excited markings put there by my teenage self. “Junias” in verse 7 is circled with the “s” blotted out. Elsewhere, I have scribbled the words “Female Apostle!!!,” and “Junia” is written again in big letters with a silver glittery pen—the “i” in “Junia” is dotted with a heart, of course. Verses 1-2 are marked, and the footnote indicating that Phoebe may have been a “deaconess” instead of a “servant” is highlighted. Why did I feel the need to amend this version of the Bible?

When I was sixteen years old, I first conducted an examination of what the Bible says about women. A skeptical friend had pointed me to passages such as 1 Timothy 2:11-15, and I was reeling. I had never read the Bible all the way through, nor had these issues been discussed in the churches I attended, so I had never really considered the allegations of misogyny in the Bible. I had a difficult time reconciling my belief in a God who loved his redeemed daughters every bit as much as his redeemed sons with the idea that women were, by divine design, subordinate (to me “inferior”) to men.

For a teenager, my study was intense. My trusty NIV Study Bible (1995) was soon marked up with lists of what the Bible said about women among the people of Israel and the New Testament church. The next source I turned to was the Internet, where I read everything I could find, including hierarchist Web sites. Eventually, I discovered an egalitarian site that pointed out how Paul had called Phoebe a “deacon” and a “patron” and Junia an “apostle,” but that many translations had obscured this by making Phoebe a “servant” and “helper” and turning Junia into the male “Junias.”

I rechecked my NIV Study Bible and—sure enough—Phoebe was a “servant” and “a great help to many,” while Junia was “Junias.” The footnotes did acknowledge that Phoebe might be a “deaconess,” and some of the study Bible notes did a better job touching on the controversies surrounding these passages, but I still felt betrayed. Why di...

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