The New International Version of the Bible (NIV), a translation into modern English expected to appeal to conservative evangelicals, has just been published.

Zondervan Publishing House, which is printing the commercial edition, reports that prepublication sales for the NIV Bible were over 1,060,000 copies before the publication date of Oct. 27.

Dr. Edwin H. Palmer, executive secretary of the NIV translation committee, said it is different from the Revised Standard Version in that the RSV is a revision of previous translations but not a new translation.

The NIV committee, which worked on the project for 10 years, was organized to include participants from English-speaking countries around the world. This was designed to safeguard against provincialisms. Although the scholars were chosen from a variety of denominational and theological backgrounds, all had to be committed to the full authority and complete trustworthiness of the Bible as God's word.

Dr. Palmer explained that this requirement was imposed to ensure that the translators would be particularly scrupulous about being faithful to the exact meaning of the ancient texts. He noted that the care in choosing the committee was much greater than anyone would take in selecting scholars to translate Homer, for example.

A brochure published by Zondervan and the New York International Bible Society, which financed the project, describes the NIV as "a Bible for all occasions - for private as well as for liturgical use, for devotions as well as for Bible study, for edifying the church member as well as for teaching the unchurched, for preaching as well as for memorizing."

Design was also an important factor in the NIV. In several chapters of the Book of Proverbs, a space is left between each verse to stress that each proverb stands as a complete unit of thought. In the second chapter of Ezra, the lists of the exiles who returned are set up in columnar form to make for easier reading. In Genesis I, the account of each day of creation is liven a separate paragraph.

The concept of the NIV originated in the 1950s when the Christian Reformed Church (1956) and the National Association of Evangelicals (1957) appointed committees to study the need for and the feasibility of producing a new translation of the Bible.

New York Bible Society International took sponsorship of the project in 1967, and established a 15-member committee on bible translation. Work began in 1968, and in 1969 the NIV Gospel of John was published. The NIV New Testament appeared first in 1973.