Sunday, July 05, 2009

Grudem and ESV onlyism

On Feb. 20, 2006, Ben Witherington blogged about his concerns regarding the ESV. He said, that a member of the TNIV translation committee had told him,
    "The ESV we owe chiefly to one particular scholar who has spent much of his career opposing the idea of women being involved in minstry. I am told that this scholar did everything he could possibly do to scuttle the TNIV, in the main because he abhorred the idea of the use of inclusive language in the translation even where it was fully warranted and did better justice to who was being spoken of in particular cases. A good example would be when the Greek term 'anthropoi' ('human beings')is used to refer to a mixed group containing both women and men. To translate the term 'men' in such a case is in fact to misrepresent the meaning of the word in such a case since there were also women present who were not mere ciphers or appendages of the men who were there.
Witherington concluded his post, by saying,
    Why am I mentioning this now? Because I have been told that the Southern Baptist Convention is considering endorsing the ESV as the one true Baptists ought to use. I hope this will not happen, but it is a twilight zone kind of possibility.
While Witherington withdrew his post, I am reproducing these statements, first because I know them to be true, since I was involved in a translation seminar at Regent College in the fall 1997, where I was told exactly this same information, and because much of Witherington's post is cited in this post on the Bayly blog. (I saved Witherington's post at the time, so I could refer to it without error.)

After Witherington had posted this, Wayne Grudem responded on Justin Taylor's blog,
    Dear Ben,
    Regarding your blog about the ESV Bible on Feb. 20th, 2006, I suspect I am the “one particular scholar” to whom you refer in your second paragraph. ...
    But contrary to what you reported from your friend on the TNIV committee (which I think was his speculation), the ESV grew out of the appreciation of many scholars for the merits of the old RSV and a desire to see it updated, and not out of opposition to the TNIV Bible. The reason for my own involvement with the ESV was a long-standing desire to see an updated RSV, and had little or nothing to do with the TNIV controversy.
Tim Bayly then responded with a post of his own, citing from an article he had written in 1999,
    The second translation hoping to pick up some of the Bible share lost by the NIV is the English Standard Version (ESV), announced in February by Crossway Books. The version had its roots in discussions that took place before the May 1997 meeting called by James Dobson at Focus on the Family headquarters to resolve the inclusive NIV issue.

    The night prior to the meeting, critics of regendered language gathered in a Colorado Springs hotel room to discuss the next day's strategy. During the course of the evening it became clear their concerns with the NIV extended beyond gender issues. The group discussed the merits of the Revised Standard Version, first published in 1952 by the National Council of Churches and recently replaced by the New Revised Standard Version, a regendered update.

In 2002, 100 scholars signed a statement against the TNIV. Among those who signed were several men on the translation committee of the ESV.

It is a puzzle to many people why Wayne Grudem continues, through publishing books and talking on the radio, to criticize the TNIV, and at the same time denies that this has anything to do with the inception and promotion of the ESV as a more transparent and accurate Bible. Well, Dr. Packer has exactly the same position. He has published a paper on stopping the ordination of women, he signed the protest against the TNIV, and he is the editor of the ESV. It is hard to deny that this is something of a package.


Mike Aubrey said...

Sue, why do you even both reading the likes of the Bayly blog?


Suzanne McCarthy said...


The Bayly's were very influential in the drafting of the Colorado Springs Guidelines. They like to record what happened at the time.

Some people like facts.

Mike Aubrey said...

So they helped draft it.

Why am I not surprised?

J. L. Watts said...

All this because they have some fanciful notion that women must not be allowed in ministry? What do we do with the many women in the New Testament who did minister? And beyond, into Church History?

I guess this also answers a few questions on why you are no longer on BBB.

Tim Bayly said...

Dear Suzanne,

You've got the history right. Wayne Grudem has it wrong.

The ESV is the fruit of that hotel room meeting and e-mails exchanged between those of us there (and others) in the weeks prior to that meeting, including Grudem, Piper, Sproul, Poythress, etc. As a result of that meeting, I met with Lane Dennis and proposed that he undertake the work of a new Bible translation that would be based on the RSV--which he did, working with Grudem to get the rights to the RSV so the work could begin.

The ESV had its origin in the TNIV controversy and every statement to the contrary is not true.

The documentation is inarguable.