The Gideons and the ESV

As I noted in this blog about a month ago, I officially joined the Gideons International.  They have a solid reputation for worldwide Bible distribution and I’ve heard plenty of people say that the Gideons are responsible for giving them the first Scriptures they’ve ever had.  To date, the Gideons have distributed complete Bibles and New Testaments to the tune of 1.7 billion in over 190 countries.  As we ponder over that, we must praise God for this ministry and their efforts to bring the Word to so many people.  With a legacy such as this, I can say that I’m proud to be a part of this organization.

Yet with such a high volume of Bible distribution, shouldn’t it matter which translation(s) the Gideons are using?  Most people who have any degree of familiarity with the organization know that the Gideons have been handing out the King James Version (KJV) since the ministry was founded.  Even today, the KJV is the rock-solid standard of the organization.  However, the Gideons also pass out a modern English version as an alternative.  The version used for the modern translation has changed over the years.  I’m told that the New International Version (NIV) was used at one point but later abandoned, probably because of the cost of the royalties (all modern translations have copyrights).  After that, they switched to the New King James Version (NKJV).

Setting the NKJV as their choice for a modern translation was probably one of the best decisions the Gideons ever made.  I say that because, in my humble opinion, the NKJV is the best modern translation available.  While I won’t go into all of the reasons why I say that, suffice the say that I believe the textual basis is superior, the translation itself is trustworthy, and it is very readable.  This year, however, the Gideons International decided to drop the NKJV.  I was taken aback by this, especially since their usage of the NKJV as a modern translation was one of the main reasons I joined the organization.  I was very much looking forward to ordering cases full of Personal Workers Testaments in the NKJV.  No more.

At their last international meeting, the Gideons made the decision to adopt the English Standard Version (ESV) as their new modern translation.  This is, in my estimation, one of the worst decisions ever made by the Gideons.  Having used the NIV at one time was bad enough and this is yet another bad move.  I actually called the Gideons’ made office to figure out what was behind the decision and I was told some very interesting answers.  The NKJV copyright is owned by Thomas Nelson, a publishing company that was recently acquired by HarperCollins.  When this takeover happened, the contract that the Gideons had with Thomas Nelson would not be renewed (I wasn’t given a clear answer about why it fell through).  In the midst of this, there’s a lesson here about the commercialization of modern Bible translations, but I’ll save that for a future blog post.

Apparently the move toward the ESV upset many within the Gideons and so certain compromises had to be made.  The lady on the phone told me that the version of the ESV distributed by the Gideons is not the same as the ESV you’d find in a book store.  One of the main differences between the NKJV and the ESV is the textual basis for translation.  In terms of the New Testament, the former is translated from the Traditional Text of Scripture (Textus Receptus or Received Text) whereas the latter is translated from the so-called Critical Text (or Eclectic Text).  I can only suppose that there are a lot of Gideons who endorse the Traditional Text, for I was told that this compromise included taking the verses (and parts of verses) which were excluded from the original ESV and incorporating them into the Gideons’ ESV.

Did you follow that?  In other words, what the Gideons did was to create a Textus Receptus (TR) edition of the ESV.  All of those readings which were excluded from the ESV (because of its Critical Text basis) are now present in the ESV handed out by the Gideons.  This is remarkable.  One may be tempted to think that all is well since we have a TR edition of the ESV translation now ready for distribution.  After all, isn’t it true that the advocates of the Traditional Text got what they wanted and can now rest easy?  Not exactly.  If what we advocate regarding the Traditional Text is limited merely to a textual basis in the TR, then we’re seriously missing the point.  You can have an excellent textual basis and still have a terrible translation.  The textual basis and the translation philosophy must go hand in hand. 

What the Gideons have done is to put the proverbial “lipstick on a pig.”  While I’m happy that the TR readings have made it into their ESV edition, the problem still remains that the ESV is a fundamentally flawed translation which cannot be trusted.  As others have pointed out, the ESV is simply a glorified revision of the notoriously liberal Revised Standard Version (RSV).  In fact, it has been said that the ESV is about 90 percent of the RSV.  That fact by itself should be enough to dismiss any serious notion of endorsing the ESV.  In decades past, it was common for evangelical Protestants to rail against the RSV and rightfully so.  That being the case, why are so many conservative Protestants today endorsing what is essentially a revised edition of it? 

I could be wrong, but I believe there are basically two reasons why so many people (including the Gideons) have jumped on the ESV bandwagon.  In the first place, most Christians (to include pastors) are generally ignorant of issues related to textual criticism.  This is coupled with a lack of knowledge and discernment regarding translation itself, the methodology thereof, and what a good translation ought to look like.  Second, I blame the aggressive marketing campaign of Crossway (the publisher) and their lax allowance of its use.  I suspect this is probably the main reason the Gideons decided to adopt the ESV as their new modern translation.  The bottom line of cost seems to have trumped textual concerns, at least that’s the impression I’ve received.

There’s also a certain degree of dishonesty here which must be addressed.  If it’s true that the edition of the ESV which is distributed by the Gideons is not like the one we find in book stores, then can they really say that it’s an ESV?  I hope I don’t sound trite in asking that question, but I believe it needs to be asked.  When someone is given a New Testament from the Gideons, in many cases this is the very first Bible that individual has ever read.  If the Lord saves him and he desires to purchase a whole Bible, he may indeed go with the translation he’s been reading (as many people do).  And so when he goes into the store to purchase an ESV, he’s not going to be reading the same text that he received from the Gideons which was also under the ESV label.  Is there not, on some level, a measure of dishonesty here?  I believe there is.

I would encourage fellow advocates of the Traditional Text to contact the Gideons and politely insist that they go back to using the NKJV as their modern translation, especially if you yourself are a member of the organization.  I can only speak for myself here, but I cannot in good conscience hand out Bibles in the ESV, knowing what I know now about that translation.  The good news is that the Gideons still offer Bibles printed in the KJV.  They’re also a good resource for getting New Testaments printed in other languages.  I didn’t write this post to pile on the Gideons, but to simply point out some fatal flaws in their recent decision to adopt the ESV.  Despite this, I will press on as a member of the Gideons and I look forward to working alongside them in evangelism efforts.

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38 Responses to The Gideons and the ESV

  1. Hi! I found your post via Google after I saw someone mention this on Facebook. I’ve done some reading about this. From what I’ve found, the Gideons first published MEVs in 1974. They started off with the Revised Berkeley Version and later switched to the NIV in the mid 80s. They made over 40 changes to the text. The Gideons never liked the NIV and switched to the NKJV in 1986.

    • That’s some interesting history regarding the Gideons and their translations. Thanks for filling in the gaps! I’m hoping that they have a similar dislike of the ESV and switch back to the NKJV.

      • Hello again. I forgot to mention the details were from an article by fundamentalist David Cloud entitled “Follow-up to Gideons and Modern Versions”. In the article Cloud quotes a spokesman who said they would “will never go back to” the NIV nor “touch it with a ten foot pole.” (The article is here: I wonder if the Gideons will feel the same way in a few years about the ESV. If I were in charge I would have used the public domain World English Bible as the MEV. They wouldn’t have to pay Crossway or Thomas Nelson royalties which means they could modify it if they saw fit. It is also based on the Majority text which is close to the TR.

  2. John Hobbins says:

    I have no objections to an English translation of the New Testament which is based on manuscripts which reflect a text very close to the one the translators of the King James version used. If that is what it takes to keep some Christians convinced that the Bible they are using is reliable, so be it.

    Still, there are many men and women of God who prefer an English translation of the New Testament based on more ancient manuscripts and a judicious use of text criticism. I happen to be one of them. .

    If only people of both opinions would realize that fighting endlessly over these matters is a sure way to sow dissension and enmity in the body of Christ!

    Anyone who reads Hebrew and Greek knows full well that every translation out there is less than perfect. And so are we. The ESV is not perfect, but it is an excellent translation. I have compared the originals with the translations many times. ESV is an improvement over NKJV in terms of intelligibility in passage after passage.

    The development and eventual success or failure of any translation, including the KJV, is a very human story full of twists and turns. To tar ESV or any other translation on these grounds amounts to a great error. Holy Scripture itself teaches us that God uses very imperfect individuals to bring His perfect Word to expression. It is no different today, RSV or no RSV, ESV or no ESV,, Crossways, or no Crossways.

    I will be praying for God to bless and save many through the ESV should the Gideons distribute this version. Just as God blesses and saves many through the KJV, the NKJV, and yes the NIV, to this day.

    • Hello, Mr. Hobbins. I appreciate you politely expressing your viewpoint. I have to say, however, that I take issue with much of what you’ve said here. Ultimately, our differences break down to the presuppositional level. How we view God will reveal how we look at all issues in life, including this issue of textual criticism. The God of the Bible providentially preserves His word precisely because He is truthful, all powerful, sovereign over His creation, and He’s not the author of confusion. As such, I agree with the Reformers that He has preserved His word throughout all ages. I don’t put my trust in so-called “critical scholars” to define for us the canon of Scripture. That my copy of the NA27 is now considered obsolete speaks volumes by itself.

      The statement that a preference for the traditional text of Scripture is what it takes for some Christians to be convinced that the Bible is reliable is a statement I found to be a bit patronizing to say the least. Frankly, that assertion could go both ways. I’m convinced that the Bible is reliable precisely because God is reliable and can be trusted. That’s the whole crux of this debate. Equally patronizing is the assumption that critical text advocates are the only ones who exercise a “judicious use of text criticism.” I don’t think such statements help the discussion and tend to add more heat than light.

      Honestly, I couldn’t disagree with you more about the ESV being better than the NKJV. Even though the NKJV is a formal equivalence translation, it still reads better than the ESV (“essentially literal,” whatever that means) and has a better flow to it. For what it’s worth, I’ve heard others say this as well. The ESV seems very choppy to me by comparison. That’s the irony. The ESV is more dynamic (despite the “essentially literal” description) than the NKJV and yet it doesn’t read nearly as well. Our pastor preaches from the NKJV and I noticed the differences when I followed along in my ESV. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on that.

      Your statement that the development of English translations is a “very human story” is very revealing indeed. That’s a man-centered focus for sure. I don’t doubt for a second that the history behind all these translations is full of “twists and turns” from our perspective. God ordains the means as well as the ends. However, it is God—not us—who preserves His word. The preservation of the Word and the translation thereof—both are controlled by His hand of providence. Yes, God can (and does) use a crooked stick like the ESV to draw a straight line. Praise Him for that. But that’s not an excuse for us to manufacture crooked sticks as the norm.

  3. Albert Bucher says:

    I have not yet seen any one of the new Gideon ESV Bibles.I can understand that they did approximately 50 renderings to make this Bible sound. Knowing what all has been removed and added by all so called “better readable modern Bibles”, I will not and cannot go along with any of these watered down translations. Modern Bibles are not based on the Received Text (Textus Receptus) which was used by the Luther Bible as well as the KJB. English is not my mother tongue but I have no problem to read this wonderful Bible. I am a Gideon myself and I tried to convince my Christian friends to plead that the Gideon International would change and rather go back to the KJV. At the end it is the work of willing volunteers who finance this work and therefore we need a trustworthy Bible to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a our next generation. Thank you for your article and please do not give up and stand firm of the solid Rock.

    • Albert, the Gideons recently put the ESV text online as part of its daily reading plan. I compared the text with the 2011 ESV text. It seems the group made 53 changes. Most of these were taken from the footnotes of the 2011 ESV and others were made to reflect some doctrines such as the blood of Christ and salvation.

  4. Patrick L. Williams says:

    I am a Gideon speaker for our camp. Part of my presentation was to illustrate that their was no such creature as a “Gideon’s Bible”. They were the same bibles everyone else read. It was merely a “Gideons Placed Bible.” Since I heard and read the Gideons president state that they had added their own verses, I can no longer say what I said before.
    It is scripturally incorrect to add or delete from the word of God. I am bowing out of my speakership and the Gideons.

    • Ron Myers says:

      Dear Patrick,
      Being a church-planting missionary and Bible translator (for over four decades), I have studied for myself the long-standing debate over differences between the two Greek source text compilations: *Alexandrian* (from which is derived the W&H, Nestles-Aland, Critical Greek texts) and the glut of modern translations based on them… versus the “Byzantine” of which the Received Text (TR) is associated and the translations based on them, which include KJV, NKJV, and other lesser-known versions.

      To cut to the chase in this; I’ll get to the point: The Gideons DID NOT add to the Word of God in their decision to “enhance” the ESV, but to complete the time-honored passages contained in the Byzantine/TR based texts (KJV & NKJV), lacking in all modern translations which are based on the Alexandrian Greek text form (as stated in my first paragraph) like the NASB, NIV, ESV, et al.

      Bottom line: I hope you will consider this and will come to realize and understand that what was done was NOT out of line, as you have strongly eluded to, but merely to complete the sense of meaning in certain key verses, reflecting the Biblical texts based on the Byzantine/TR Greek manuscripts (KJV & NKJV, etc.).
      In Him,

      • Ron Myers says:

        What little bit I wrote to Patrick above is not about the Gideons’ worth; only about historical choices of scripture versions. I believe they are conservative… no problem there (so no need to defend them). That being said, this doesn’t automatically make their members qualified to understand the why’s and wherefore’s behind the various Bible version debate, based on different underlying Greek texts available today… a long-standing “Chevy-Ford” type debate that seems to have no end.

        Incidentally, I was close friends with Gideons’ past International Director back in the ’70s and ’80s… being supported by a local-area Baptist church there in Nashville. He was a great brother by the name of Ken (last name escapes me at present). I used to attend prayer breakfast with him in Nashville when I was in town and visited him at the Gideons’ headquarters there.

        There was another brother in attendance at these prayer breakfast get-togethers as well, the director of Thomas Nelson Publishers, also headquartered in Nashville. He invited me to visit him at their headquarters, where he surprised me by presenting me with a beautiful leather-bound Bible.

        Now, I’m not sure if you make the potential connection, but the Gideons’ are headquartered in Nashville, as is Thomas Nelson Publishers (copyright owners of the NKJV). Both of these men were close friends, and attended prayer breakfasts together. (GideonsNKJV // NKJVGideons)

        This relationship was in the past, and both men are now retired and out of office (or with the Lord), which may be part of the reason for the switch in versions… certainly not beyond the realm of possibilities.

        In Him

  5. “As others have pointed out, the ESV is simply a glorified revision of the notoriously liberal Revised Standard Version (RSV). In fact, it has been said that the ESV is about 90 percent of the RSV.”

    That’s because 90% of the RSV wasn’t controversial. In fact, the translation was rather well-received until the Old Testament came out. The ESV only needed to address the obvious weaknesses of what was otherwise one of the best versions of the 20th Century. Shall we start attacking the KJV for sometimes drawing upon the Rheims New Testament (and the Vulgate itself, for that matter), since we’re playing the guilt-by-association game? If the ESV NT now follows the TR, then the only controversy left is personal taste…and frankly, I find the ESV far less awkward than the NKJV, since it’s not so slavishly bound to Jacobean diction (though I’d take either of them over something like the NIV).

    • On what grounds do we say that 90 percent was of it was not controversial? The translation method itself (to say nothing of its textual basis) was always controversial. It was controversial for the same reason the NIV was controversial. The remaining 10 percent consisted of changes in order to make the RSV palatable to a conservative Evangelical audience. Hence, they created the ESV. Old problems in a new package.

      This isn’t guilt-by-association. This is a fundamental problem in translation, especially when the promoters of the ESV are not being truthful in how they market their product. They’re making the claim that the ESV is an “essentially literal” translation when that’s just not the case. It’s the same type of mixture (dynamic equivalence with formal equivalence) that we find in the NIV. If you think the RSV was one of the best translations of the 20th century, then we’ll simply have to agree to disagree on that. There were very good reasons why the church at large rejected it.

      Moreover, it doesn’t sound like you read my article very carefully. The ESV NT does not follow the readings of the TR. The Gideons International incorporated the TR readings into the ESV NTs they publish. That was the issue in question. The ones published by the Gideons are not the same as the ESV you’d find in a bookstore. Again, I think there’s more of a shred of dishonesty in this as well. If you’re putting TR readings into an ESV, then it really ceases to be the ESV.

      I’ll be the first to say that the KJV has its problems. I personally prefer the Geneva Bible over the KJV. However, there’s something to be said for a translation that has stood the test of time for over 400 years. The problems the KJV has pale in comparison to the fundamental problems and difficulties inherent within the ESV. I stand by that statement. As for reading style, my experience has been the opposite: I found that the ESV was very awkward and choppy while the NKJV had a better flow.

      • The RSV was certainly an “essentially literal” translation. It was not a “slavishly literal” translation like the ASV before it (or the NASB after it), but it did not show the influence of Nida’s dynamic equivalence philosophy in the same way that the NIV did. Even the NRSV, which is far looser than the RSV, doesn’t come close to the paraphrasing tendencies of the NIV. The NCC didn’t make it their mission to delete every idiom and metaphor they came across, and that’s the main measure of formal vs. dynamic.

        The RSV is also not as skittish as the NKJV (see Judges 3:24, for example, where the NKJV is utterly terrified to explain what the Hebrew idiom “covering his feet” meant lest it upset the blue-haired ladies in the pews and ends up being neither literal nor clear as a result), nor does it stick with unjustifiable traditional renderings (such as the NKJV’s unfortunate retention of “Lucifer” in Isaiah 14:12). It wasn’t a perfect translation, but it managed to be sufficiently literal while still sounding sufficiently like 20th Century literary English (as opposed to 20th Century newspaper English like the NIV or 20th Century street English like the Good News Bible and New Living Translation), and where it was weak, the ESV has stepped up to correct it.

        Furthermore, since the Gideons never seemed to identify the NKJV in their “Modern Language Version” editions of the past, I’m not sure that anyone will even know it’s the ESV that they’re reading. They’ll just know that they’re reading something that sounds like the Bible without sounding like their Shakespeare homework. Besides, Gideon Bibles aren’t meant to be the final, definitive Bible for Christians to own–they’re an evangelism tool. No matter what you hand people, they’ll eventually just pick up whatever translation that the local church they join uses (and considering how things are going, that one will likely be a far less literal translation, such as the NIV, HCSB, or CEB).

  6. Pingback: The odd Gideons Textus-Receptus ESV | BLT

  7. Bob says:

    Praise God for The Gideons International!

    • Gavin says:

      Why the Puritans and Reformers ever left the Reformation Bible and replaced it with the Episcopalian King James Authorised version I shall never know. What was wrong with the GENEVA BIBLE so greatly used of God. Why dont we use that version today ???? Peter being apprehended till after Easter Acts 12 v4 !!! Really… I am sure the Bishops in Philippi would be most concerned !!!!! Philippians 1v1

      • willjkinney says:

        The Ever Changing ESVs 2001, 2007 and 2011 = just another Vatican Version.

        Want some concrete examples of why the ESV is like the old RSV and is in fact one of the new Vatican Versions? Really? Well, folks, here they are. This is my own study.

        “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 8:8

        “But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” 1 Cor. 14:38

        God bless.

  8. willjkinney says:

    Hi saints. Just some things to consider. Most Christians today do NOT believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. That is a FACT the polls clearly show. The NKJV is not at all the inerrant words of God and here are some concrete examples why –

    As for the ESVs (3 different editions in just 10 years) it is basically the liberal RSV garbage in a new bag. It omits even more whole verses from the N.T. that even the NASB, NIV and it adds hundreds of words to the Hebrew O.T. and rejects numerous Hebrew readings. It is one of the new Vatican Versions. Don’t believe it? See the documentation and the verse comparison facts here –

    The Ever Changing ESVs – just another new Vatican Version

    “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 8:8

    “But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” 1 Cor. 14:38

    God bless.

  9. willjkinney says:

    By the way, that “Shakespeare homework” “thee”s and “ye”s are in there for a reason. They are far more accurate to the underlying Hebrew and Greek texts than the generic “you” and “yours”. Here is why – Learn more about our wonderful English language.

    Why those “thee”s and “ye”s are more accurate.

    “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 8:8

  10. Wait wait wait. A question, please: has anyone in this discussion, including the blogger, actually seen one of these ESV’s that has been conformed to a different base-text than the normal ESV? If you think you have, then please collect in your hands the normal ESV and the TR-conformed or Byzantine-Text-conformed, or whatever-conformed ESV the newly introduced translation is supposed to be, and compare a few of passages for me please:
    (1) How is the ending of Mark presented?
    (2) What do you read in Jude verse 5?
    (3) Are the words “and fasting” at the end of Mark 9:29?
    (4) What is the last word of Second Timothy 1:11?
    (5) Does Mark 1:2 mention “Isaiah the prophet,” or “the prophets”?

    This might seem like busy-work, but it is a very easy way to determine if you are looking at versions which are based on the same text, or not.

  11. Ivan says:

    The 13 verses that are added back into the ESV for the Gideon version are:
    1 Matthew 12:47
    2 Matthew 17:21
    3 Matthew 18:11
    4 Matthew 23:14
    5 Mark 9:44
    6 Mark 9:46
    7 Mark 11:26
    8 Mark 15:28
    9 Luke 23:17
    10 John 5:4
    11 Acts 8:37
    12 Acts 28:29
    13 Romans 16:24
    Here is some history that get’s at the root problem.
    At the end of the 3rd century, Lucian of Antioch compiled a Greek text that achieved considerable popularity and became the dominate text throughout Christendom. It was produced prior to the Diocletian persecution – about 300 AD, during which many copies of the New Testament were confiscated and destroyed.

    After Constantine came to power, the Lucian text was propagated by bishops going out from the Antiochan school throughout the Eastern world, and it soon became the standard text of the Eastern Church, forming the basis of the Byzantine text.

    From the 6th to the 14th century, the great majority of New Testament manuscripts were produced in Byzantium and in Greek. It was in 1525 that Erasmus, using five or six Byzantine manuscripts from the 10th to the 13th centuries, compiled the first Greek text to be produced on a printing press, subsequently known as the Textus Receptus and also known as the Received Text.

    The translators of the King James Version had over 5,000 manuscripts available to them, but they leaned most heavily on the major Byzantine manuscripts, particularly Textus Receptus.

    There were two Anglican churchmen who initiated a major problem and they were Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort. They both had contempt for the Textus Receptus and began a work in 1853 that resulted 28 years later in a Greek New Testament based on the Alexandrian manuscripts.
    Both men were strongly influenced by Origen and others who denied the deity of Jesus Christ and embraced the prevalent Gnostic heresies of that period. There are over 3,000 contradictions reported in the four gospels alone between these manuscripts. They, Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort, deviated from the traditional Greek text in 8,413 places. They conspired to influence the committee that produced the New Testament in the Original Greek (1881 revision). Their work has been a major influence in most modern translations such as the ESV, NRSV, NASB, and the NIV.
    Documents show that Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort were not Believers because they opposed taking the Bible literally concerning the Atonement and Salvation. Their personal writings reveal more concerns.
    Therein lies the root cause behind this issue. See reference for help.
    Reference :
    While Men Slept by Kerby F. Fannin PHD available in book stores.
    The Case for the Byzantine Priority by Maurice A. Robinson – available on-line.

  12. James Newman says:

    One of the initial goals of the ESV was achieve a standard essentially literal translation. The 71 RSV was the starting point to be used for syntax and punctuation. This was due to the RSV’s heritage from Tyndall – KJV – RV – ASV – RSV. The “standard” objective was have a version that could be followed (primarily in cooperate worship) regardless of translations used.
    Crossway Press is part of Good News Publishing. It is a NOT FOR PROFIT entity. While they hold the copyright for the ESV, they do not seek to profit from it. Unlike the NKJV (Nelson) and the NIV (Zondervan) which are own by Harper Collins which itself is a division of News Corp. I would not be surprised if Crossway granted rights to the ESV without even charging Gideons International for its use because like the Gideons, Crossway’s purpose is to spread the Word of God.
    I personally have no major issues with the ESV and believe me I have put it thru the ringer. I personally was required to use the “oragne moster” (Oxford Annotated RSV) in college and I did have issues with it. My opinion, the ESV is a good translation like the NKJV.
    I have an appreciation for Crossway and Good News Publishers and the work they do. I also want to say that I have the highest regard for the Gideons. I would join myself but I am an ordained minister. Keep up the good work!

  13. Josh Jensen says:

    I share your appreciation of both TGI and of the NKJV as to its translation style, though I don’t follow you when it comes to the TR. Leaving that aside, however, I want to follow up on this: “the ESV is simply a glorified revision of the notoriously liberal Revised Standard Version (RSV). In fact, it has been said that the ESV is about 90 percent of the RSV.”

    It seems to me you’re essentially claiming that “about 90 percent” of the ESV shares the RSV’s “notoriously liberal” quality. Would you mind backing this up with, say, five or ten verse citations from the ESV that show its liberal character? (This is a separate issue from the textual basis, so let’s leave aside cases where the ESV is simply following the critical/eclectic text in the NT or adopts a reading different from the MT in the Old Testament.)

    I think a list of citations would go a long way to clarifying the ways in which the RSV’s theological liberalism has tainted the ESV.

  14. Stephen says:

    The TR was an eclectic text too. It was based on a few representatives from the Byzantine text type (just 6 late texts). TR just like the NA28 was attempt to create an eclectic text with the manuscripts that Erasmus had. The difference is that NA28 are based on not only more manuscripts (which isn’t really all that important) but earlier ( sometimes by a thousand years earlier) and more geographically distributed. So to say that the TR is more trustworthy because God is faithful to preserve His word misses the point that the TR is an eclectic creation just as is the NA28. There is no TC manuscript instead it is a text made on the printing press. Moreover there isn’t a single TR as it was updated by Erasmus through several editions which somewhat differed.

  15. Daniel McGinnis says:

    After reading the comments listed I will politely advise each to seek a few books on the subject of the key Bible versions published in this modern era. One is FINAL AUTHORITY, BY GRADY, (it is in its 12th edition, and the other is LOOK WHAT’S MISSING, BY DANIELS. I think most will be well pleased with either or both of these…unless you are an advocate of the NIV. Thank you, daniel

    I am was also a Gideon member until today, August 11,2014, when faced with distributing the complete ESV Bible in a health center here in the Philippines.
    I could not distribute the ESV as I think it is not worthy to do so. I will miss the fellowship with others but I think it is far more for me to consider my future relationships in Heaven!

  16. willjkinney says:

    Hi all. For all you guys promoting either the new Vatican Versions like the ESV, NIV, NASB, NET, etc. and for those promoting “the marijuana version” NKJV, keep in mind that not one of you fellas actually believes that ANY Bible in any language (translated or untranslated) IS now the complete and inerrant words of God. It’s just that most of you are too dishonest to admit it.

    Six Lies Modern Scholarship Tells Us.

    If any of you wish to discuss the inerrancy of the Bible (which all of you who are not KJB only do not believe in) then come join us on the Facebook King James Bible Debate forum.

  17. David says:

    I am curious. You do know that the ESV doesn’t actually leave verses out that are in the TR correct?

    • The ESV is based upon the so-called Critical Text, so it does indeed remove certain verses, relegating them to footnote status on the bottom of the page. By the way, this is my old blog. I don’t write here anymore.

    • willjkinney says:

      “Setting the NKJV as their choice for a modern translation was probably one of the best decisions the Gideons ever made. I say that because, in my humble opinion, the NKJV is the best modern translation available.”

      May I suggest you read my article with plenty of examples in it? It is called “Is the NKJV the inerrant words of God? Not a Chance!”

  18. willjkinney says:

    David posts; “I am curious. You do know that the ESV doesn’t actually leave verses out that are in the TR correct?”

    Hi David. Actually, the ESV is based on the ever changing Critical Greek text that is under the direct supervision of the Vatican and it omits some 18 entire verses from the text of the N.T. as compared to the KJB. This is even more whole verses omitted than do the NASB and NIV. The ESV continues to change its own text – 3 different editions in just 10 years – and it rejects numerous Hebrew readings and it adds hundreds of words to the O.T. from the so called Greek Septuagint.

    I have documented all of these in my article about this new Vatican Version called the ESV. Are you willing to actually look at the examples?

    I am not making this stuff up.

    The Ever Changing ESVs 2001, 2007 and 2011 = just another Vatican Version.

  19. Hugh McCann says:

    Here is the Gideons 2013 magazine explaining it:

  20. Update:
    I finally got my hands on the GESV (Gideons English Standard Version) and it is quite good; the base-text has been /extensively/ revised so as to favor /many/ Byzantine readings. Not enough to satisfy KJV-Onlyists, but the only way to satisfy them would be to distribute only the KJV.

    The GESV is a significant improvement over the ESV. I wish this would become the standard ESV (even though it still has some Alexandrian quirks, such as in Lk. 2:14, John 1:18, and Jude v. 5 — where footnotes, at least, would be nice).

  21. Henry Bemis says:

    I am sure there will be multiple thousands saved by reading the Gideon’s version of the ESV New Testament. God bless them they give thousands out to our troops overseas every year. Faith in the blood of Christ and not in any Textual Manuscript tradition will be the only thing that will ultimately save us. I think many of us (and I include myself in times past) neglect the more weightier matters of Christianity (i.e. saving the lost, reaching the Un-reached) in order to obsess over Bible translations. Forgive me for saying so….

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