Is the NIV Easier to Read Than the ESV? No, not really
A colleague passed this information along to me, and I to you. I think you will find it very interesting. We hear sometimes that people think the ESV reading level is more difficult than the NIV. This is, in fact, a misunderstanding. I personally did a lot of Bible reading with children for a research project last year, reading to and with pre-K through second grade. That’s one of the reasons I’m aware of this information about readability. The ESV and the NIV are on virtually the same reading grade level (ESV 7.4 and NIV 7.8). Crossway has provided very specific information about the ESV readability scores on their blog. Some might think this is biased information, since of course the publisher of the ESV would want the best possible outcome to such a question. But here is where it gets really interesting. The publishers of the New International Version have issued their own “readility” analysis, and the ESV beats the NIV here too! Here is information from Zondervan about the readability level of the NIV. There is some misinformation on the web that places the ESV on a 10th grade reading level. That may be a case of misunderstanding or of someone trying to shore up the NIV’s market position, which has been badly damaged by their decision to use gender inclusive language and by competition with the ESV. According to retailers, the ESV is growing exponentially in popularity while the NIV is now in rapid decline. Their editorial board is planning a revision of the NIV. You can read about that here.