ESV Bible Translation Revisions ‘Potentially Dangerous,’ Biblical Scholar Warns

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A debate is stirring over revisions made to the final translation of the English Standard Version Bible regarding gender, with one biblical scholars saying the changes are “potentially dangerous.”

The Crossway Board of Directors and the ESV Translation Oversight Committee said in a statement that the 52 words revised in 29 verses were “the culmination of more than 17 years of comprehensive work by the committee, as authorized and initiated by the Crossway Board in 1998.”

Crossway added that the 2016 edition is a “Permanent text of the ESV Bible [and will remain] unchanged throughout the life of the copyright.”

One of the controversial changes can be found in Genesis 3:16.

Editors changed the previous translation of Genesis 3:16 which said, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” The verse has now been changed to read, “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”

Northern Seminary New Testament professor Scot McKnight believes the word changes in the newly revised ESV Bible, such as those found in Genesis 3:16, have profoundly negative implications.

“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 in an interview with The Christian Post on Thursday. “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 translations of the Bible, such as the The New International Version and the New Revised Standard Version, change terms like “man” and “brethren” to “human beings” and “brothers and sisters” to show that the writer is referring to both sexes instead of only men.


Other changes made to the ESV Bible include verses 1 Kings 8:48, Ephesians 1:5, and James 2:10.

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 now, “If they repent with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies.”

Ephesians 1:5 earlier 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.”

James 2:10 has been changed from, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it,” to “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.”



All of the edits made to the 2016 English Standard Version Bible can be found here.

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