In a recent post titled The Permanent Text of the ESV, I mentioned that the Crossway Board of Directors and the ESV Translation Oversight Committee had decided that, after a few minor revisions, the text of the ESV would not be changed in future printings of this popular translation of the Bible used by many evangelicals.
Responding to heavy criticism of their decision, the Crossway Board of Directors and the ESV Translation Oversight Committee recognize “that this decision was a mistake” and that minor updating will be made in future editions of the ESV as the need arises.
Below is an excerpt of The Crossway Statement on the ESV Bible Text:
In August 2016, we posted on our website that “the text of the ESV Bible will remain unchanged in all future editions printed and published by Crossway.” The goal behind this decision to make the text permanent was to stabilize the English Standard Version, serving its readership by establishing the ESV as a translation that could be used “for generations to come.” We desired for there to be a stable and standard text that would serve the reading, memorizing, preaching, and liturgical needs of Christians worldwide from one generation to another.
We have become convinced that this decision was a mistake. We apologize for this and for any concern this has caused for readers of the ESV, and we want to explain what we now believe to be the way forward. Our desire, above all, is to do what is right before the Lord.
Our goal at Crossway remains as strong as ever to serve future generations with a stable ESV text. But the means to that goal, we now see, is not to establish a permanent text but rather to allow for ongoing periodic updating of the text to reflect the realities of biblical scholarship such as textual discoveries or changes in English over time. These kinds of updates will be minimal and infrequent, but fidelity to Scripture requires that we remain open in principle to such changes, as the Crossway Board of Directors and the ESV Translation Oversight Committee see fit in years ahead.
I want to commend the Crossway Board of Directors and the ESV Translation Oversight Committee for their courageous decision. It takes courage to admit that a mistake was made, but the Board of Directors and the Oversight Committee recognized that their decision was a mistake and they were willing to admit it publicly.
On behalf of the many people who use and love the ESV, I would like to thank the Crossway Board of Directors and the ESV Translation Oversight Committee for their willingness to listen to the voices of concerned critics and reverse their decision. This means that the ESV will continue the tradition established by the RSV and continue to be a relevant translation for the evangelical community for years to come.
On a personal note and out of “fidelity to Scripture,” I would like to request the Crossway Board of Directors and the ESV Translation Oversight Committee to, please, change the translation of Genesis 3:16. The ex-Permanent Text of Genesis 3:16 is an ideological translation that does not reflect the realities of the Hebrew text. I would also request that they change the translation of Genesis 4:7. This revised translation, as it is, is incomprehensible.
If the people at Crossway allow Genesis 3:16 to remain as it is, with this new revision of the text, I can guarantee that the ESV will be the laughingstock of biblical translations because of the very ideological bias present in the translation of this verse.
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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I agree with your thoughts on Genesis 3:16 and 4:7. In my writing, I try to use ESV as the default, but I tend to switch whenever I find less clarity. I suppose no one sees everything as others. Thanks for your thoughts on the ESV.
Thank you for your comment. No translation is perfect. I generally use the NRSV, but at times, I also use other translations in order to clarify and emphasize what the biblical text says.