“We have become convinced that this decision was a mistake,” said Crossway president and chief executive Lane Dennis in a statement. “We apologise 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.” Last month, Crossway announced that after changing 52 words in 29 verses out of more than 775,000 words across more than 31,000 verses, the ESV text would “remain unchanged in all future editions.”
The publisher’s intended goal was “to stabilise the ESV, serving its readership by establishing the ESV as a translation that could be used ‘for generations to come’,” said Dennis. “We desired for there to be a stable and standard text that would serve the reading, memorising, preaching, and liturgical needs of Christians worldwide from one generation to another.”
While Tyndale and the NLT Bible Translation Committee would never “put an absolute lock” on the NLT, Tyndale and its NLT licencees dealt with the same publishing challenges that Crossway does, Norton said.
“We are at a moment in the NLT’s translation life where we plan to put a soft lock on the text, but we will continue to review well-reasoned queries as they are raised.”
But making a translation permanent ignores the need for updates that reflect scholars’ advances in their understanding of the text, as well as the continuing development of English as a living language, said Tremper Longman III, a member of the NLT translation committee.
“That’s especially true for a word-for-word approach, like the ESV uses.
“Most translators and linguists would say that such an approach to translation is actually less accurate in terms of communicating the thought of the ancient writer to a modern audience,” Longman said. “The English language changes, and my guess is that over the years even this particularly type of translation will sound more and more stilted, just as the KJV does to modern readers.”
Amid much public discussion over the decision, Crossway changed its strategy.
“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,” said Dennis.
“These kinds of updates will be minimal and infrequent, but fidelity to Scripture requires that we remain open in principle to such changes.”