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Critic Labels Latest ESV Bible Changes 'Potentially Dangerous'

09-19-2016
Ancient Bible

The latest revisions to the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible is causing some debate and one bible scholar says the changes are "potentially dangerous."

Crossway Board of Directors and the ESV Translation Oversight Committee have changed 52 words in 29 verses in the 2016 edition of ESV Bible, the Christian Post reports. 

The revisions come after 17 years of work by the committee and they say it will remain "unchanged throughout the life of the copyright."

However, some of the changes in this translation are controversial. 

Editors have changed the previous text of Genesis 3:16 which read, "Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you," to "your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you."

Northern Seminary New Testament professor Scot McKnight told Christian Post that the word "contrary" has a very negative connotation.

"This new translation of Genesis 3:16 suggests the curse against the woman is an act of God (a curse) that seals estrangement, alienation and tension between females and males," McKnight said. "By so rendering this verse, the ESV creates the impression that females and males are contrarians with one another."

"Some think they make women rebellious and men authoritarian in response. That is a sad and potentially dangerous interpretation for it gives the wrong kind of males a ready-made excuse for domination," he added.

Other changes made to the ESV Bible include verses 1 Kings 8:48, Ephesians 1:5, and James 2:10, which one seminary professor said is confusing.

"Because of the awkwardness of the ESV translation, I've heard pastors in churches with ESV Bibles in the pews abruptly interrupt their public Bible reading to explain that the actual meaning of the text is "brothers and sisters," said Carolyn Custis James, who works at Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania.

1 Kings 8:48 has been changed from "If they repent with all their mind and with all their heart in the land of their enemies," to say "If they repent with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies."

Ephesians 1:5 used to read, "He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will." It now reads, "He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will."

McKnight said he was unsure why Crossway did not have a public discussion about the changes before they were finalized and he suggests that the manner in which it was handled was intentional.

"One can be forgiven for wondering if they didn't just slip it in," he said. "This is a bad move when the new translation is now considered permanent."

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