More News and Notes on the English Standard Version, and a Word of Caution about the New International Version
I had an interesting meeting yesterday with the leaders of Good News Publishing, the publishers of the English Standard Version. During our meeting we talked about the surprising announcement from the publishers of the New International Version that in 2011 they are going to stop publishing both the original NIV and Today’s New International Version and produce a hybrid of the two. Most conservative Christians were outraged by the publication of TNIV which fell into the trap of gender inclusivity and neutrality that plagues much of modern Protestantism and Christianity. Here is the real problem coming up for those persons and churches still using NIV. They will lose the present text and be forced, if they continue using NIV, to use a text that will continue down the path of a translation that is more agenda-driven than committed to offering an essentially literal translation of the Scriptures. We don’t know what this means for the future of any edition of the NIV presently being published. Needless to say, we breathed a collective sigh of relief and gave thanks to God for the ESV, and the choice by The LCMS to use the ESV as our translation of choice in all worship materials.
My feeling is that we got out of the NIV while the getting was good, and I advise others to do the same. I remain convinced that The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod made a very good decision in returning to a more literal and accurate translation of the Bible. The New International Version is not that, and it is only going to get more difficult to use. Here is the article I posted some time back on why The LCMS adopted the ESV as its translation of choice.
You’ll be interested to know that, contrary to the false statements repeatedly printed in Christian News, the publishers of the ESV do not pay one red cent to the National Council of Churches as part of the revenue stream they are receiving for sales of the ESV. In fact, quite the opposite. A portion of all sales of the ESV is set aside to distribute Scripture for free as part of Crossway’s publishing efforts. Generous donors, a number of years ago, provided funds to pay for the RSV text outright from the NCC and absolutely no part of sales of the ESV goes into the pockets of the NCC. Also, note that sales figures on various Bible translations show startling declines in sales of various Bible translations, with NIV, NASB, NKJV and KJV done, often over 30-40% and sales of TNIV down over 60% last year, but…the ESV has seen sales increase in this same period over 35%! This is a remarkable testimony to is increasing popularity.
For our part at Concordia Publishing House, we are very grateful for the fact that the ESV demonstrates a much greater consistency in how it translates key terms and phrases, and most particularly, those terms and phrases that are so critical to the proclamation of the Gospel itself, like “grace” and so forth. A person quipped in my hearing the other day that more and more we are witnessing Christians rejecting paraphrases and other such loose translations, described as “graceless”and “bloodless” Bibles! Amen.