Home > Bible/Bible Translation/Bible Publishing > More News and Notes on the English Standard Version, and a Word of Caution about the New International Version

More News and Notes on the English Standard Version, and a Word of Caution about the New International Version

October 3rd, 2009
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ms2650I 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.

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  1. Kari
    October 3rd, 2009 at 09:01 | #1

    Is the ESV the translation that the kids will get in the Bible for the NYG next summer? I hope it’s the ESV. I’ve been reading the ESV a few years now and have really gotten to love it. I’ve ordered my New Lutheran Study Bible and can’t wait to get it!

    McCain: No, the National Youth Gathering asked the American Bible Society to produce a edition of the NIV for The LCMS National Youth Gathering.

  2. October 3rd, 2009 at 10:47 | #2

    Hopefully Northwestern Publishing House will get out of the NIV business pronto also.

  3. Terry Maher (Past Elder)
    October 3rd, 2009 at 16:46 | #3

    I’d like to think it has nothing to do with LCMS having scholars on the ESV translation staff and WELS not. Certainly during my time in WELS NIV was universal and CSSB for a study Bible likewise for those with study Bibles. But I’m not surprised they don’t find TLSB in synch with the WELS view of some things. It was those “things” that led me to LCMS. TLSB needs more “winking” to be Lutheran as WELS sees Lutheran than CSSB? IMHO, TLSB more than earns the definite article in its name. It is a production of stunning quality in all senses.

  4. October 3rd, 2009 at 17:33 | #4

    This may also raise issues with the current edition of the catechism which has ESV in the synodical portion, but by order of the 2004 convention left the passages in Luther’s Catechism in NIV.

    I’m not really concerned about this. It is a big difference between this and and an entire Bible.

  5. Randy Keyes
    October 5th, 2009 at 10:20 | #5

    Does the LCMS have a position on an English Bible for English Second Language Christians? The ESV is very, very hard for them to understand. I find that TLT or GOD’S WORD seems much easier for them to grasp even than the NIV. I didn’t know where to look for such information, which is why I’m asking. Thank you.

    McCain response: Randy, The LCMS does not have a position on this. I would sooner refer people to GLT than to anything else by way of a dynamic equivalent translation. I would recommend people read and study God’s Word in their “heart language” — the language they know best.

  6. Pete Wertz
    October 5th, 2009 at 11:00 | #6

    Pastor, I think I will stick with the good ole KJV…that way I am getting the best translation with out all the politics involed…And there is enogh upheaval in the synod right now witout adding more>

    McCain response: I do not believe KJV is the best translation. KJV uses language that may have been well known and popular when it was first published, but now it it, in my opinion, akin to a museum piece in terms of language. I know people have a strong “heart tie” to it and as a piece of English literature, it will always be a classic, but I can’t recommend it for folks today.

  7. Randy Keyes
    October 5th, 2009 at 19:42 | #7

    @Randy Keyes
    I appreciate that, but is does tend to keep a congregation segregated by language rather than working to bring them together in America. :)

    McCain: Forcing people to use a translation of the Bible that is not their native language, because “they are in America” is the epitome of an uncharitable remark, to say the least, and actually a sad example of racism.

  8. Randy Keyes
    October 6th, 2009 at 15:54 | #8

    It could be, but our Senior Pastor, who is himself from Eritrea and is conversant in four or five languages, realizes that for the immigrants to do as well as they can in America, they need a solid grasp of the English Language. So while we have studies in several languages, and special times for worship in several languages, because St. Paul says that there is neither Jew nor Greek but all are one in Christ, and because learning English is a key to earning potential in the USA, we are seeking to have times of worship when all the various cultures of our church can be involved in one service. Hence, for that service, a more simplified translation. Also, to help them learn English, a more simplified translation.

    I think we can agree to disagree. :)

    McCain: Randy, this is a much more thoughtful, nuanced comment to put your previous remarks in context. I highly doubt your pastor would tell the Eritreans, however, not to read the Scriptures in their own native/heart-language. If however the goal is to help them with English, super. Yes, we are all are one in Christ, but this does not mean that our unity depends on learning English.

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