Denying the origin of the English Standard Version and Bible marketing...

(Tim: originally posted October 27, 2007, with an ADDENDUM added March 17, 2011.) While moving into our new church offices, I found a new piece of correspondence documenting the origin of the ESV in the Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy. Why bang this drum again? Because the denial of any connection with controversy at the heart of the ESV's marketing campaign is so typical of the inability of evangelicals to understand that faith is battle, and men who hide the battle for fear it will scandalize the sheep actually harm the sheep. Imagine reformers of past centuries trying to hide the conflict from those they were defending: Think of Calvin holding cloistered meetings with Cardinal Sadolet that the men of Geneva knew nothing about; or Luther publicly denying that his use of the word 'alone' in translating Romans 3:28 was in any way connected with the battle against Rome for justification by faith alone; or the Apostle Paul announcing in his epistle to the Galatians that Peter's particular failure of table fellowship had no significant bearing on his issuing this present letter--that this letter had been in the works for years prior to that public confrontation...

Lane Dennis (CEO of the English Standard Version's publisher, Crossway Books),and Wayne Grudem (the scholar most visibly associated with the origin and translation of the ESV) have made a number of public statements denying that the origin of their ESV is anchored in the Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy of 1997. Here are some typical quotes taken from web sites and private correspondence: The origin of the ESV really did not have its roots in the Colorado Springs meetings in May 1997 or in the gender controversy generally..." -Lane Dennis in a 15 June 1999 letter to World magazine "Enclosed is a copy of my recent letter to Joel Belz (publisher of World magazine)... I don't know if Joel will run my letter in World, but in any case it seemed important to respond to their reporting on our Bible publishing plans, because their coverage was seriously distorted and even false." -Lane Dennis in 23 June 1999 letter to Ken Taylor "...the (Gender Neutral Bible) controversy over the TNIV was not the driving force behind the creation of the ESV." -Wayne Grudem, February 2006 "The ESV developed ...not as a reaction to other Bible publishers’ doings or to meet the Colorado Springs Guidelines. (In 1995 or 1996) Crossway initiated the idea for what became the ESV." -from Lane Dennis' ESV Crossway Publishers site "(C)ontrary 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." -Wayne Grudem in February 2006 letter to Ben Witherington On the one hand, we have these men's denials. But on the other, we have many private conversations as well as E-mail and written correspondence (including the two letters reproduced below). Contra Dennis and Grudem, both letters document the ESV's origin in the Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy; that at the time, the principal opponents of gender-neutered Bibles had concluded: 1. First, that a new Bible translation was needed in order to prune evangelicals from their reliance on the New International Version; 2. Second, that a revision of the Revised Standard Version was likely the best option to pursue for this new Bible translation. On then to the letters. In mid-1999, Lane Dennis wrote two letters denying his ESV had its origin in the Gender-Neutral Bible Contoversy. The first was a letter to the editor of World magazine dated June 15, 1999, in which Dr. Dennis denied the truthfulness of the following text from an article David and I had written which ran in World's June 5, 1999 issue: The (ESV) 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.... 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. Mr. Dennis' second letter was addressed to my late father-in-law, Ken Taylor, who at the time was CEO of Tyndale House and publisher of the gender-neutral New Living Translation. In this second letter, Dr. Dennis claimed what David and I had written "was seriously distorted and false." Here is my own response to Dr. Dennis' denials. (Until now, I had not made this letter public.): * * * June 25, 1999 Dr. Lane T. Dennis, President Crossway Books 1300 Crescent Street Wheaton, IL 60187 Dear Lane, The witness of Crossway Books within the evangelical world the past twenty years or so has been a source of significant encouragement to me, as I have mentioned to you several times. To see how you have guarded the truth of God’s Word, continuing to publish works very much in keeping with the evangelical theological heritage we inherited from our fathers, causes me to give thanks to the Lord. More recently I have been pleased to see Crossway link arms with Wayne Grudem, Vern Poythress, and others in the production of the English Standard Version, a project close to the hearts of all those who went through the dark days of battle surrounding the Colorado Springs meeting in May of 1997. It’s my hope that you will read this letter within the larger context of my commitment to the ESV, as well as my respect for, and friendship with, you personally. This letter is written in response to your June 15, 1999, letter to World’s publisher, Joel Belz, calling the two articles written by my brother, David Bayly, and myself “mistaken” concerning the ESV’s origin. These articles appeared in the June 5, 1999, issue of World and were titled, “Decline of the NIV?” and “A Radical Proposal.” The essential question is whether we were accurate in reporting that the ESV “…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 issues.” You wrote, “The origination of the ESV really did not have its roots in the Colorado meeting,” and you implied that the idea of revising the RSV was yours and carried forward exclusively by you and your Crossway employees until such time as you brought Wayne Grudem into the process to assist you. It’s clear that you fear having the ESV’s origin and direction tied in any way to the NIVI controversy, but the facts supporting this connection seem to me to be indisputable and, from my perspective, our work for World only states the obvious. Further, it is evident to a number of us who are familiar with the world of Bible publishing that your own foray into this world owes much of its vitality and future marketability to this controversy. But returning to the places you claim my brother and I were mistaken, you say: 1. We were inaccurate in reporting that the ESV “had its roots in discussions that took place before the May 1997 Focus on the Family meeting; and 2. We were inaccurate in not attributing the formative leadership behind the RSV revision to you and your employees at Crossway. I would respond to your complaint, first, by pointing to the restrained way David and I made our case. Consider how different our article might have been had we mimicked the substance and tone of this letter just released by Christians for Biblical Equality concerning their own perceptions about the key role the controversy and their work in that controversy had in causing IBS and the CBT to proceed with their new translation: June 1999 For CBE Members Only, Rejoice with me! The International Bible Society has announced plans to MOVE FORWARD with a gender-accurate translation of the Bible! Women will be visible, as God and the original authors intended! We’ve worked and prayed for over two years! CBE raised a collective voice! We produced and promoted materials that support gender accuracy in Bible translation. We wrote letters and press releases. Our efforts have been rewarded. Your Support of CBE Made this Possible! * * * Signed, Cathie Clark Kroeger CBE (Christians for Biblical Equality) President Emerita You know as well as I do that IBS and the CBT would deny the role claimed by Christians for Biblical Equality just as vehemently as you and Crossway have denied the NIVI controversy any role in your new translation. Unlike the all-encompassing claims made by CBE, David and I merely submitted this to World: ...The ESV partly ha(d) its origin in discussions surrounding the May 27, 1997 meeting at Focus on the Family headquarters in Colorado Springs called by Dr. James Dobson to resolve the inclusive NIV issue.... During the course of the evening it became clear their concerns with the NIV extended significantly beyond its recent embrace of inclusive language. The merits of the Revised Standard Version, a translation first published in 1952 by the National Council of Churches, were discussed by the group and it was lamented that the RSV was going out of print, but no plans to revise the RSV and bring it back into print were made at that time. World edited and published our articles as follows: ...The (ESV) 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.... 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. Let me clearly state that, although the editorial process at World made the articles less acceptable to you, personally, it was not unacceptable to either David or myself since, as published, the piece was entirely accurate. Second, it bears pointing out that you are somewhat handicapped in your attempt to dispute this process that, I submit, led to the ESV, just as I as a non-participant would be handicapped if I were to attempt describe your recent meetings in Cambridge. When I report that in the days surrounding the Colorado Springs meeting there was growing discussion of the need for a new translation, the inadequacies of the NIV, and the possibility of building a new translation on the foundation of the RSV, I am describing correspondence, conversations, and meetings in which I was personally involved. Of course, I would not suggest that all the participants in the events surrounding the NIVI controversy in the first half of 1997 would write identical reports on that work. Neither would I expect all of us who were personally involved in those events to have a totally uniform view of their importance to the several new versions of Scripture which have been announced in the days since. (Yet it is interesting that both the Holman Christian Standard Bible and the English Standard Version very clearly state that they are adhering to the Colorado Springs Guidelines.) Then too, it’s important to acknowledge that several of us had, in years past, planned for (or even encouraged) new Bible translations. How much discussion about the need for a new version of Scripture—and about the possibility of a revision of the RSV serving as the basis of that new version—took place surrounding the Colorado Springs meeting? Beginning early in 1997, serious consideration of the need for a new translation of Scripture (as readable as the NIV, as accurate as the NASB, not gender-neutral) was taking place among several of us associated with the NIVI controversy. Those discussions became more frequent and urgent in direct relationship to the development of the controversy between World, CBMW, the SBC Sunday School Board, and Focus on the Family, on the one hand; and IBS, Zondervan, and the CBT on the other. In February through May of 1997, I had a number of conversations during which I expressed to those involved in the controversy my conviction that only a new translation of Scripture would guarantee the accuracy of the text of Scripture used by the evangelical world in the years to come. During our group’s preparation for the Colorado Springs meeting, I raised my concern with others who were centrally involved in the controversy, including Vern Poythress, Paige Patterson, Paul Gilchrist (stated clerk of the PCA), Wayne Grudem, R. C. Sproul, Charlie Jarvis, and Joel Belz. Documenting those conversations is quite simple. This editorial by Joel Belz in the May 3/10, 1997, issue of World—an editorial based on a conversation between Joel and myself—demonstrates just how important the NIVI controversy was in making many consider the need for a new translation of Scripture. FROM THE PUBLISHER: Farewell to freelancers: After playing the game this long, is there really no rule book? By Joel Belz It was an unusual suggestion. after reading and carefully digesting our April 5 issue, a reader called to propose that WORLD convene a meeting of selected theological leaders. Purpose of the summit: To develop a list of wise and transcendent rules to be observed when scholars prepare new translations of the Bible. The suggestion made sense. “Have you reviewed recently,” our reader asked, “all that you have to go through to amend the U.S. Constitution? It takes a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress, plus ratification by three-fourths of all the state legislatures. Compare that, then, with how little it takes to amend the Word of God. It’s conceivable that a simple majority of a self-appointed editorial committee of an independent publishing company can release a Bible that totally changes what God actually said.” So, my friend suggested, it would be good to get some top scholars together for a week or two to sketch out some timeless ground rules that any responsible team of translators should observe when restating God’s Word in a different language, or when restating it in the same language but for a different time. After all, there are more or less timeless rules governing achievements in athletics, science, and medicine. Should we be less fastidious about our handling of God’s very words? I agreed with my friend that WORLD could find donors willing to fund such a meeting. It would be an exciting and historic gathering. But the very next day my friend called back to pop my bubble. The more he had thought about it, he said, the more he realized that his suggestion carried with it the very seeds of the problem we so much need to avoid. That problem, he said, is that we have thoughtlessly put the safekeeping of God’s Word in the hands of freelancers. The fact that they are well-meaning freelancers is beside the point. They are, in the end, responsible to no one but themselves. The Committee on Bible Translation and the International Bible Society, which for the last 35 years have worked sacrificially to produce and refine the New International Version of the Bible, are good cases in point. Read the history of the NIV and you’ll find the fascinating story of how these two groups of faithful believers started with a broad commission from a variety of churches, schools, and evangelistic organizations. But you’ll also find the story of essentially independent entities who have no official accountability to the church at large. To be sure, it’s possible that apart from such an independent structure, the NIV would never have seen the light of day—but the point remains that translation policies can theoretically be changed willy-nilly by the CBT and the IBS. In effect, they make up their own rules. All of which is fine so long as you know the rule-makers, and are well acquainted with the rules they make. But what happens when the rule-makers retire or die—as the CBT has experienced, and where only two of the original 15 committee members remain? And what happens when new rules are adopted? Isn’t that when somebody like WORLD magazine needs to step forward? Except, as my friend recognized with his second call, that only perpetuates the problem. The publishers of WORLD magazine might be trustworthy right now—but they too will pass, and in their places might come folks with different views. In the end, we’re no different in kind from the Committee on Bible Translation, the International Bible Society, or Zondervan Publishing House. Our board, like all of theirs, is independent and self-perpetuating. Instead, my friend proposed, the highest courts and councils of several church denominations—known to hold the Bible in the highest regard—should sponsor such a gathering. Together, they should write down a “policies and procedures” manual governing the translation of God’s Word. Like other great statements of the church through the centuries, this one would both unite and divide. It would say to translators and publishers: “Follow these guidelines, and we’ll support your efforts. Ignore them or water them down, and we’ll probably not buy your Bibles.” Properly framed, such statements should be enormously helpful to those who want to serve God’s people with faithful translations of the Scripture. But clearly, the statements should come with the authority of broadly based churches, not just from some other independent agency. It’s time to ask the officers of Christ’s church to act like the officers of his church. Might the Southern Baptist Convention, the Presbyterian Church in America, and other denominations rise to that challenge. (World, May 3/10, 1997: Vol. 12, No. 7) Prior to the meeting in Colorado Springs, those who were to attend exchanged emails and phone calls trying to put together some statement of principles concerning Bible translation which could serve the entire group as a starting point. On May 24, 1997, Dr. R. C. Sproul forwarded a working document titled, “Principles of Bible Translation.” That same day I circulated the following response: Dear Dr. Sproul, This set of principles is helpful. Thanks for taking the time to do this work and for using a format that includes denials as well as affirmations. A couple suggested changes/additions: * * * Number 13. We acknowledge that the publishing of Bibles in our culture is an enterprise of significant commercial value and that publishing companies are under great financial pressure to maintain sales levels and market share of products. We question the practice of using the copyrighting of God's Word to produce profits (as opposed to simply recouping production costs) at these publishing houses. Further, we believe that the granting of permissions to use particular versions of Scripture should never be a commercial decision. God alone holds the copyright of His Word and it is our conviction that Bible publishers should cease their efforts to make the Word of God a means of profit. We believe that commercial concerns have intruded into the task of Biblical translation, thereby harming that process, and we seek the implementation of safeguards which will guard against such intrusions. (Note: I realize this would be a radical change of direction within evangelical Bible publishing, and that some means of protecting the text of a particular translation, as well as recouping the cost of the work of translation, would need to be created. Nevertheless, I'm convinced we must get at the root of the problems within evangelical publishing and that this is a key one. It may be there are some works that will be accomplished with much higher quality if they're funded by patrons rather than anticipated profits.) Then too, early in May there had been additional correspondence concerning the need for a new translation among those of us who later became a part of the Colorado Springs working group …. Date: May 1, 1997 To: Wayne Grudem, Joel Belz, Marvin and Susan Olasky From: Timothy B. Bayly <> Subject: Your new editorial Dear Wayne, Joel, Susan, and Marvin, Although I’m in the middle of a two week sabbatical from CBMW, I wanted to say how much I agree with ____’s comments. From the pulpit I use the NIV, but like many other pastors I’d love to have another option which is both in the vernacular and accurate. I wonder whether it may not happen at the conclusion of the proposed committee’s work that the committee itself gives birth to another translation? This ought not to be talked about now, I think, other than in a forum such as this, but a number of us have been talking about it independently already, according to my conversations of the past month (April of 1997). Thus it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Lord leading further in that direction. * * * Warmly in Christ, Tim Bayly It was on this same date that the possibility of a new version based on the RSV was first suggested within our group. Date: May 1, 1997 To: (members of the working group, including Joel Belz, Tim Bayly, etc.) From: Wayne Grudem In a message dated 97-05-01 14:22:49 EDT, you write: <> … Another possibility is getting permission to redo either the old RSV (by changing Thee and Thou, and maybe 5 or 10 places where OT Messianic prophecies were blurred) or the NRSV (by undoing the gender-neutral language). Bruce Metzger himself might be interested in that… The RSV copyright is owned by the National Council of Churches. A third possibility is a new translation. But a really good one will look a lot like a sanitized RSV or a slightly more readable NASB. And the NASB has to change its name to gain acceptance in the rest of the English speaking world… To recapitulate: the above makes clear: 1. That discussion concerning the need to replace the NIV with a new translation as readable as the NIV but as accurate as the NASB began among members of the Colorado Springs working group subsequent to the initial World article on the NIVI but prior to the Colorado Springs meeting, 2. That the basis of those discussions was not a well-developed plan centering upon the RSV; rather, we began with only broad sketches of basic principles which were progressively refined in the months leading up to the Colorado Springs meeting. Shortly after our discussion of the merits of the RSV on the night prior to the Colorado Springs meeting, Wayne Grudem again suggested to me in a phone call that the best means of getting a new translation into print might be simply to revise the old Revised Standard Version. These events were fresh in my mind during our meeting at CBA in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 15, 1997. During that meeting, I’m sure you will recall, I suggested to you that Crossway step into the gap created by the NIVI controversy, by sponsoring a new translation. I also repeated to you Wayne’s idea that the RSV might serve as the basis of that new translation. It seemed clear to me during our meeting that neither you nor anyone else at Crossway had ever considered getting involved in a revision of the RSV, and that this suggestion was a new concept to you. I also remember speaking with you on that occasion about the possibility that loss of sales by the NIV due to the NIVI controversy might create a significant market for such a work. In early fall of 1997 discussion continued among those involved in the NIVI controversy concerning the need for a new translation. Far from being an established project, there was a sense of anticipation and excitement among us as we gradually realized over those months that the NIVI controversy had created the momentum necessary to sustain a new translation. It was out of this context that Wayne Grudem approached you and obtained your commitment of support for this new translation. Beyond this point I can’t speak of the history of the ESV since my involvement in the project ended at that time. Since then, work on the ESV has proceeded entirely under the leadership of Wayne Grudem and the folks at Crossway. But to sum up in those areas in which I do have first-hand knowledge, it is clear to me that both the suggestion a new translation be done, and the suggestion that this new translation be a revision of the RSV had their roots in the NIVI controversy precisely as we wrote in our article. Please understand that I have here described my knowledge of these events and the part I played in them only because of your impugning, in your June 15th letter to Joel Belz, the essential accuracy of what David and I wrote. I have no desire to cast doubt on your statements suggesting that Crossway had long considered getting involved in some aspect of Bible publishing. (I assume every evangelical publisher would like to publish a popular and respected version of Scripture.) I do, however, want to suggest that such considerations as may have taken place at Crossway prior to the NIVI controversy never centered on a revision of the RSV. Turning to another area of concern beyond mere questions of fact, I want to express my own personal disappointment with this statement from your letter: “…the ESV is not ‘against’ other translations,” and we would affirm the tremendous ministry of the many contemporary translations presently being published. (I would specifically mention our appreciation for the NIV and the NLT.…)” Is Crossway embarrassed by its association with those who took a public stand against the plans of Zondervan, the International Bible Society, and the CBT? Is Crossway saying it wishes Paige Patterson, James Dobson, and World had not fought this battle with such tenacity? Are the members of the ESV Translation Oversight Committee prepared to say they believe the NLT is a faithful translation of Scripture, and do they wish to commend it to their children and grandchildren—particularly where it rids the text of such arcane expressions as ‘adelphoi’, ‘adelphos’, ‘aner’, and ‘adam’? No, on the contrary, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that privately Crossway and the ESV team are actually quite pleased with those who placed their personal and collegial relationships on the line opposing the NLT, NIVI, and other gender-neutral versions of Scripture—but while you may applaud those who took these steps, you still hope personally and corporately to escape the fallout of that controversy. Forgive me if I suspect falsely, but if there is any truth in this suspicion, I appeal to Crossway and the members of the ESV team to stand with World, James Dobson and many others in saying God’s ‘no’ as well as His ‘yes’ to the People of God. It’s my prayer that in the future Crossway will demonstrate a willingness to explain to the Flock of God why they ought not to use a neutered Bible, and why the ESV has made a conscious decision to forsake that wide and prosperous path. If there is any way I may serve you, please don’t hesitate to ask. Meanwhile I continue to give thanks to the Lord for Crossway’s faithfulness. May our Lord establish the work of your hands. Your brother in Christ, Timothy B. Bayly TB:tb cc: David Bayly Joel Belz Wayne Grudem Kent Hughes Marvin and Susan Olasky * * * Upon receipt of the above letter, Lane Dennis responded with another letter dated July 2, 1999, addressed to me, personally. In this letter Dr. Dennis did not respond to the smallest part of the documentation of the roots of the ESV I'd provided. Instead, he simply wrote: Tim, I can't go into a long analysis and defense of my letter to Joel Belz... I would simply stand by (it). Dr. Dennis added a postscript that he forbid any direct "or indirect reference" to his letter. Adding to the above documentation, during our current move into new church offices I was filing old correspondence and came across another letter that I'd forgotten. Had I remembered it at the time I wrote the above letter to Lane Dennis, it would have been a central part of that letter. To give this letter its proper context, here are a few dates to keep in mind: * April 1997: World published its excellent "Stealth Bible" issue detailing the plans of the International Bible Society, the Committee on Bible Translation, and Zondervan Publishing House to change the text of the New International Version in order to make it gender-neutral * April/May 1997: Many private conversations about the need to replace the NIV with a new Bible translation for the evangelical world, leading to the conclusion that a revision of the RSV would likely provide the easiest route to that new translation * May 26, 1997: The night before the May 27 meeting at Focus on the Family's headquarters from which the Colorado Springs Guidelines were issued, most of the meeting's participants opposed to gender-neutral Bible translation met at the Colorado Springs Marriott Hotel. Having already raised the subject of the need for a new Bible translation in our group E-mails preceding the meeting, we continued the discussion that night at the Marriott, identifying to each other which Bible translation we used, and continuing our discussion of the RSV serving as the basis for this new translation. * June 20, 1997: Lane Dennis and I meet to discuss book proposals from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. During the meeting, one of five proposals presented to Dr. Dennis is that Crossway consider doing a new Bible translation. * July 15, 1997: Lane Dennis and I meet a second time, this time at the Christian Booksellers annual convention in Atlanta, Georgia. During that meeting I reiterate the proposal made a few weeks earlier in Wheaton, that Crossway step into the gap created by the NIVI controversy and work towards publishing a new Bible translation. At this meeting, I add that Wayne Grudem and others are of the conviction that the RSV would best serve as the basis of this new Bible translation. Dr. Dennis expresses keen interest in pursuing this suggestion. * Late 1997: Lane Dennis decides to take up the project and begins work with Wayne Grudem to secure copyright for the RSV. * June 5, 1999: David and Tim Bayly publish an article in World stating that "the ESV had its roots in discussions that took place before the May 1997 Focus on the Family meeting" * June 15, 1999: Lane Dennis writes a letter to World denying that "the ESV had its roots in discussions that took place before the May 1997 Focus on the Family meeting," and implying that the idea was entirely Crossway's and had been in the works for many years prior to the gender-neutral Bible controversy. In the letter, Dr. Dennis states: "The origin of the ESV really did not have its roots in the Colorado Springs meetings in May 1997 or in the gender controversy generally..." * June 23, 1999: Lane Dennis writes a letter to Ken Taylor of Tyndale House Publishers in which he claims the June 5th article in World is "seriously distorted and even false" concerning the origin of the ESV in the gender-neutral Bible controversy. * February 2006: After Ben Witherington posts an article on his blog detailing the origin of the ESV in the gender-neutral Bible controversy, Wayne Grudem responds with a lengthy letter denying it. In his letter, Grudem categorically states: "...the (Gender Neutral Bible) controversy over the TNIV was not the driving force behind the creation of the ESV. * February 2006: Also following Ben Witherington's post detailing the origin of the ESV, the ESV's publisher, Crossway, issues this statement on its web site: "The ESV developed ...not as a reaction to other Bible publishers’ doings or to meet the Colorado Springs Guidelines. (In 1995 or 1996) Crossway initiated the idea for what became the ESV." * And finally, also in February 2006, Wayne Grudem writes: "(C)ontrary to what you (Ben Witherington) reported from your friend on the TNIV committee...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. (T)he controversy over the TNIV was not the driving force behind the creation of the ESV." With this background, here's an excerpt from the letter I just came across after many years of moldy existence in a pile of corresondence waiting to be filed. This letter I received from Lane Dennis a couple days after our appointment in Wheaton on June 20, 1997: 5. New Bible Translation. I agree that this is critically needed, and would welcome the opportunity to explore this further with you and others. (As I was thinking and praying more about this this morning, I'd like to think seriously about how we could begin to develop a new translation. Let's talk more about this soon.) [Note from Tim Bayly: The number 5 refers to this proposal being fifth in a list of proposals I had made to Mr. Dennis for consideration by Crossway.] Here Dr. Dennis himself hammers the final nail in the lid of the coffin of Crossway's denial that the ESV had its origin in 1997's Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy. Why would Crossway fear the ESV being associated with controversy? Why indeed. * * * ADDENDUM ADDED MARCH 16, 2011: Going through old correspondence this evening, I came across the following e-mail addressed to "CBMW Office" while I was serving as CBMW's Executive Director. Also addressed to Wayne Grudem, we later forwarded this memo privately to a list of CBMW supporters. I had forgotten it, but came across it again last night. To protect his identity, I've removed the name of the memo's author, but it's helpful to know he was a scholar who'd already been paid to produce one gender-neutered Bible and he ended up being paid to produce the ESV, also. Apparently, there was no final conflict. Note the date is around three months before Lane Dennis wrote Joel Belz at World magazine denying the ESV had its origin in the gender-neutered Bible controversy. This memo makes it clear why Crossway has so strenuously denied the ESV's origins. To this day, this remains one of the most distressing manipulations of the truth I've ever had to deal with in my work with Evangelical leaders. One final note: I don't think the author of this e-mail intended for anyone to lie to cover up the ESV's origins. He simply thought the connection with CBMW and the gender neutral Bible controversy would be detrimental to sales and shouldn't be paraded. Sadly, the men who received and read his e-mail allowed marketing considerations to lead them into the untenable position of outright denials of the plain and easily documented history. Date: 98-03-23 08:24:27 From: To: CBMWOFFICE ...May I offer an unsolicited opinion? I think it would be a mistake to have the new Bible identified in any way at all with CBMW. The latter is a flashpoint for controversy. The new Bible would be perceived as "agenda-driven" and intended only for CBMW-partisans, if in any way this were formally linked with CBMW. It would really hurt the public reception of the Bible. It would marginalize it. I believe that the leaders of this version must try very deliberately to show that it is a broadly evangelical version while true to classical principles of Bible translation. In other words, what should drive this version is something inclusive of, but far larger than, concerns over gender-nuetral language. What should drive this version is a vision for classical Bible translation. If it is perceived as driven by anything else, can you imagine how CT would trash it? And a lot of folks who don't understand the issues and who don't care to become embroiled in a controversy would pass the version by for a less "hot" version. People don't want their Bible to be controversial. They don't want it to be tied to one little organization, like CBMW. They want it to be more transcendent in stature. You must carefully guard that by the way the thing is conceived of, by how the Preface is written, and by who participates in the revision. (Signed)


I'm stymied, too. Particularly so since the attendees at the 2001 meeting of the ETS (which is where I think the ESV was introduced and many copies were handed out) were left with the definite impression that the ESV was Grudem and company's answer to the NIVI.


Why on earth be shy about this? Sure, the quest for a good, readable translation from the eclectic text probably wasn't hurt by a number of bad, unreadable, but heavily promoted, paraphrases of the same. It's as if people were responding to a need or something.

Is that something to hide?

"The eclectic text?" This has wings.

Go with it. I'm not a theologian, nor do I play one on TV, and a gentle correction with a good load of humor would be great.

I am old enough to remember the days when the RSV was christened as the Revised Standard Perversion and the New English Bible was even worse. I know it's popular in some circles these days to take potshots at the NIV, but it came out at a time when there was nothing like it - it was far more readable than the KJV - and unlike the RSV or NEB, had been translated by evangelicals.

I've just come off a Fundy website arguing for the KJV because of the robustness of the received text against everything else - can anyone point me in the direction of resources which would defend the use of the "critical text"?

James White wrote a book on the King James Only Controversy that I thought was very good. I still prefer the KJV for a few reasons, but I think it would be rather overstating the case to consider the NASB or ESV invalid Bibles.

Tim, not trying to cause trouble, but I have to ask: are the various pieces of private correspondence in this post used with permission of those involved? Or is there some circumstance which waives the need for such permission?

Just looking for insight into the Biblical "rules of engagement" when dealing with controversy and confrontation (this post serves as a confrontation of Messrs. Lane and Grudem, right?).



Ross, Beacham & Bauder's "One Bible Only" contains a nice summary of the issues & differences between the camps.

I don't know that it'll convince anyone in the "KJV only" crowd, but it's a nice summary that...IMO, lets you know exactly why you'll never convince most people in the KJV only crowd.

I was leaning KJV-only when I read James White's book, and it prevented me from leaning any farther.

I'm certainly capable of being wrong, but I think the controversy boils down to: is the Byzantine text family more or less reliable than the Alexandrian text family?

I don't have an answer to that one.

Dear Keith,

Good question, brother.

The letter submitted to "World" magazine by Lane Dennis was intended for publication as a letter to the editor. In it, Dr. Dennis charged our article published by "World" on June 5, 1999 was false; that contrary to what we had written, "the origin of the ESV really did not have its roots in the Colorado Springs meetings in May 1997 or in the gender controversy generally...".

Although I have a copy of that letter, as well as two others Dr. Dennis wrote shortly afterward to "World" and Ken Taylor, I’ve limited quotes to Dr. Dennis’ charges.

Should one be entitled to submit a letter to the editor making such accusations while retaining the privilege of keeping the wording of the accusations secret? I would hope even evangelical Christians would answer, “No.”

As for my summary of the July 2, 1999 letter Dr. Dennis requested be kept secret, it seemed critical to the defense of what we’d written that readers know of the nature of his response to the documentation I’d provided him.

To sum up: Given the nature of the accusations against us, we’ve been restrained in what we’ve published. For instance, I have not published the content of private conversations I’ve had with a number of men (including Lane Dennis and Wayne Grudem) about these matters.

Warmly in Christ,

Tim, thanks, that answers my question.

I like to notify people when I mention them on my blog. I've linked to this article in my "Why be an ESV hater" as excellent evidence for the political context of the ESV, coming from the opposite camp. Obviously people here are welcome to comment there, but I'm not sure how productive it would be. I don't think Tim and David would want me commenting here so I won't follow this thread.

(NOTE FROM TIM BAYLY: You're right, Anonymous. You've known we won't have you corrupting the innocent here, so please honor our rule, here. Thank you.]

CD, I commend you for your policy of contacting those you link to even when you think they will dislike the link (your link here is not hostile, just using the link for an adverse purpose, but I know sometimes you must attract vehement counter-criticism). You didn't give your link, though, which is:

[NOTE FROM TIM BAYLY: I'm sorry, but despite the helpful things linked to here by Eric, I'm unwilling to have any link to this anonymous commenter who goes by the name "CD-host" on our blog. I hope you understand, Eric. This is not an academic blog by an intellectual, but a part of David's and my fulfillment of our vows to guard the good deposit. More below. With love, Tim]

I encourage you to post your name, too. And I am impressed that someone so doctrinally wrong as you is willing to think seriously about the topic of Church Discipline. Your procedural advice page at [again, sorry, no links for blasphemers--David] is sensible. I hope you do make liberals think about how a church should use discipline, and how members should respond.

Actually, I just remembered you said you weren't going to follow this thread, so I'll post at your blog too.

On the ESV, if somewhat off topic: I was surprised to see in it the other day, in Philippians 4:1, a footnote to the word brothers: "Or brothers and sisters". Surely having that footnote is pure PC'ness. The Greek uses just one word, not three, and though it no doubt can refer to sisters as well as brothers, I bet it is just like the English word "brothers", which can refer not just to literal brothers, but to brothers, sisters mingled with brothers, friends with no blood relation, brothers-in-law, fellow-soldiers, fellow-pastors, and lots of other people. If the RSV didn't need a footnote, why does the ESV?

Hi Eric. Since this so far is friendly I'll reply here with thank on the friendly review for due process. I'm trying to be respectful of Tim and David.

There are a few more discipline links that the people on this blog might find useful (far more so than the ESV article)

A list of articles by different churches on how they handle discipline...

[NOTE FROM TIM BAYLY: Please see my comment below for why I won't permit this anonymous poster to promote his heresies and lies, here.]

Hope that's helpful.


Are you the same person who had a formal debate with...

[NOTE FROM TIM BAYLY: At times, not having moderated comments creates a mess. And you're about to see one below. Some time ago, the anonymous poster who goes by the name "CD-host" tried to use this blog to market his lies and heresies. Now he comes back another day and tries again. True, neither TUAD nor Eric Rasmusen know of the past and they note that CD-Host has done some good things. So they want to go along with him as he sneaks back in. Men, I love you but I'm unwilling for this wicked man to use this blog to promote his wickedness. I'm very sorry this means I've edited you, my friends', comments, but I see no other way and hope you both will accept this from me. With love, Tim]

Hi guys,

The simple answer to the "brothers and sisters" puzzle is this. No one would call Cleopatra a brother. However, she and Ptolemy were adelphoi in Greek, as were any group of men and women in the same family. I have 5 sisters and 2 brothers, and never once in my life have I said that I have seven brothers.

It is also in the lexicon - adelphos plural - brothers and sisters. Of course, Grudem did not know this was in the lexicon in May 1997. It makes me think that the Colorado Springs gender guidelines were drafted without the benefit of a lexicon, not even one published over 100 years ago. It makes me think about it.


Are you saying that you call your sisters "brothers?"

Ms. Suzzane McCarthy,

I do not want to speak for Eric but I think it is clear that he would follow the example of the entire testimony of Scripture in how he addresses his sisters.

Would you have a problem with Eric following Scripture's example?

Ms. McCarthy,

Oops! I apologize for doubling the Z instead of the N in your first name. Please forgive my typo.

Suzanne McCarthy,

Also known as "Sue", what other blogs have you been prowling lately to aggressively promote your aberrant doctrine of egalitarianism?

Suzanne, you lie. And lying is sin.

You lie about the meaning of words, then also about Wayne Grudem.

* * *

This is what's necessary for those who seek to understand the Word of God. Those who don't tremble at its words change them. Like all idolatry, either we worship the God Who Is or we fashion our own god through the work of our hands. And of course, our own god is a carbon copy of ourselves--our likes, dislikes, fears, lusts, and hatreds.

Hating the patriarchy (father-rule) of God, the Father from Whom all fatherhood gets its name (Ephesians 3:15); and also hating the imprint of His authority He has placed on His creation, including His Word; they curse Him and set to work remaking His Nature and Word in their own image. But not wanting to admit what they've done, they call it accuracy, truth, sensitivity, contextualization, claiming all the intellectuals and scholars agree with them.

Well of course. That's about as surprising as a corn field in Iowa. Corn is what they grow in Iowa, you know.

But back to those who tremble at God's Word.

First, the question isn't whether we use 'brother' to refer to mixed-sex groups, but whether the Word of God does. And if it does, then those words and usage point us to a Truth that is larger than me or you.

Those who seek to eviscerate Scripture of the thousands of occurrences of this particular usage do so because they refuse to think as God thinks, to speak as God speaks, to preach and teach what God's Holy Spirit has proclaimed to our faithless world.

Again, the question isn't how you and I speak, but how God speaks. And once we've realized we are not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, we will learn to love God's very words and Word; we will learn what those very words and Word have to teach us.

Obedience precedes understanding. If we abide in His words, then we are truly His disciples; and we will know the truth, and that truth will make us free (John 8:31,32).

What truth will we know if we reject the hissing serpent and continue to name the race bearing the Image of God as God Himself named it? Or, oppositely, what ignorance and unbelief; what bondage will we be given over to if we turn away from this usage given to us by God our Father?

The Hebrew word, 'adam,' used throughout the Old Testament to refer to our race, is the same Hebrew word, 'adam,' used for the first man.

Turn away from this Divine revelation and we will be given over to the ignorance and bondage of egalitarian feminism which teaches that we all died in two persons, Adam and Eve; and that we all will be made alive by three persons, creator, redeemer, and sustainer. We will be given over to the bondage of churches, homes, and public squares where women teach and exercise authority over men. We will be given over to the ignorance of a world of women who know how to count money, but have forgotten how to suckle their child at their breast. We will be given over to the bondage of churches served by pastors who neither preach nor teach the duties of a husband and a wife, but only of this spouse and that; who officiate at marriage ceremonies using a liturgy that no longer requires the woman to vow submission to her husband, but continues to require the husband to vow to love His wife as Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself up for Her. We will be given over to churches where authority is hated and Christ is the Savior, but not the Lord. We will be given over to elders who are servant-leaders and never discipline their flock. We will be given over to a public square that has woman presidents, judges, professors, policemen, soldiers, officers, CEOs, and abortionists, and no one's having babies. Especially the nominal, highly educated Christians.

We will be--or rather, we have been--given over to a world in which black is white and white is black, truth is falsehood and falsehood is truth, good is bad and bad is good, male is female and female is male.

We have been given over to a world in which original sin and Adam's federal headship are forgotten:

Ugly androgyny. Ugly lies. Ugly rebellion. Ugly idolatry.

Yet, from His kindness and faithfulness, God will demonstrate He has not left us without a witness.

And ironically, His witness this morning comes from the mouth of a liar who, despite herself, speaks truth. She addresses a mixed-sex group this way: "Hi guys."

Yes, she may cover up her slip of the tongue by saying only men are commenting, but she knows women are reading and she's speaking the truth despite herself. God calls the race "Adam" and the church "brothers," so Suzanne calls our readers "guys."


By the way, don't ever be surprised when those who lie about Scripture's teaching concerning the Fatherhood of God writ large in His creation lie about other things, also.

Wayne Grudem has a Ph.D. in New Testament from Cambridge University and he knows the lexicons quite well. I learned Greek in the University of Wisconsin's Classics Department. Wayne and I stood with Vern Poythress as we fought the destroyers of Scripture who were, and still are, busy as beavers neutering the Sacred Text of Scripture.

Who is this Vern Poythress?

Well, among many other things, he is the man who has written exposing the current corruption of standard lexicons by scholars who care more about being politically correct and appeasing feminists than they care about truth. Note the entry under 2003 in this bibliography of Vern's scholarly work:

Also this:

Warning day and night, with tears,

Hi Truth --

Yes that was me who debated...

If you want to ask me any questions...

[NOTE FROM TIM BAYLY: CD-Host, I owe our readers no link to your lies and heresies. Contradicting the Word of God is no small thing, and it's my sworn duty to silence it when it occurs. Often, it's helpful to our readers to hear questions and arguments. But in your case, the anonymity and toxicity of your heresies rises to a level I must not permit. So I'm pulling all links to your web site. Further, if you post again, you will do so over your full name. No more use of anonymity here by you. If, knowing you may not promote heresies here, nor link to your web site of heresies, you'd still like to post something on this blog, then please send it to me, along with your full name and contact information. I'll verify it. Then, if I believe I can do so without violating my ordination vows, I'll take the next step. As you see, I have not forgotten your wickedness from past years, although some here know nothing of it.]

Dear Tim,

Thanks for dealing with this individual. I've not found another commenter on this blog as filled with darkness, including the atheists who recently visited the site. They are deceived. This individual is a deceiver.



If being relentless alone, and without regard for cause, were a virtue, then Suzanne McCarthy would be considered virtuous on that aspect alone.

She is a relentless egalitarian, the most relentless that I've run across in the blogosphere yet. But then again, to be fair, she could say the same about me because every time I've run into her I've staunchly opposed her. I've seen her blog here, Green Baggins, Denny Burk, Parchment & Pen, William Mounce, Andreas Kostenberger (sp?), Fr. Bill's Faith and Gender blog, etc....

She never, never, never gives up. And it's usually the same line of attack. Attempting to snare and lure unsuspecting blog sheep and emboldening wavering egalitarians.

Given her mindset and perspective, I don't begrudge her fanaticism one bit. She's just happy to be a pawn for the Enemy apparently.

What does slightly irk me, however, are those Christianly Correct Complementarians or so-called Moderates who don't realize the acute applicability of the warfare or battle or armed conflict metaphor that Scripture employs to describe these doctrinal battles. It must be waged. They are like the Jerram Barrs or Tim Kellers (God bless them both, but they are weak at where the Enemy's attack is the fiercest, at where the Enemy will dastardly exploit a misguided and misplaced understanding and practice of what "love" means) who buckle at pressure from secular and evangelical egalitarianism.

And that is why I enjoy the Bayly Brothers blog so much. They don't go for that nonsense, and they are willing to endure the excoriation, the dismissive derision, the name-calling epithets, the mischaracterization and misrepresentation that so often attends those who won't bow down to evangelical egalitarian feminism infecting the Church.

Lastly, having gone back-and-forth with Sue on a number of occasions over the last year or two, I often cite this post by Fr. Bill whenever she pulls the lexicon gambit out.


There’s no problem with running to a lexicon. The problem arises when one gets there and finds a range of meanings, dependent on context, which the lexicon-user then ignores, resorting first to an interpretive criterion alien to the text in which the word appears. This generates any number of word-meaning fallacies, some of which I referred to in that link I provided. The “root fallacy” is one of the more common of these. It is the root fallacy that rears its head in your treatment of vir/virago, aner/andreias, and what you (incorrectly) infer to be the case with ish/issha.

You seem to have revealed the criterion you champion when you challenged me with this: “… what attributes of [Christ's] character and what fruits of the spirit apply to men but do not apply to women also?” I take it that you’re championing something like this:

Fruits of the spirit, Christ-like character — these are gender-neutral, so to speak, manifesting themselves in men and women in ways that are irrelevant to a believer’s sex. You may wish to reframe this for me if I’ve not quite nailed it down.

But, that’s the point of contention between egalitarians and complementarians (or patriarchalists or traditionalists). The latter believe (as the Church has always believed) that in the Bible God ordered relationships between the sexes (that ordering is named patriarchy), and that He reveals expectations He has of either sex, expectations that are different in many cases, particularly in the ways that the sexes relate to one another. Or, to God. Yes, God expects some things from men He does not expect from women, and vice-versa.

Admitted, there are any numbers of ways that an individual’s faithfulness to God has no “sexual component.” Take truth-telling, for example. The moral prescription against lying not only applies to men and women without qualification for reasons of sex, the behavior of an individual (to tell the truth, or to lie) is identical when it is done by either sex. So, you and I would jointly endorse “Do not bear false witness” as applicable to either sex, as something that is identical when obeyed (or disobeyed) by either sex.

But, I expect that we would not jointly endorse this command: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord … as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Even if you insist that “submission” runs both ways – from husband to wife as well as from wife to husband – Paul shows that this submission is different for the wife (who is supposed to obey her husband) and for the husband (who loves her sacrificially). You must have read egalitarians who so “interpret” these things as to insist that finally there is no difference between the wife’s submission to her husband and his “submission” to her, rendering Paul’s distinctions between the sexes here of no account.

And, that’s why you and I use the lexicon differently. I am guided by a set of criteria obvious in the Bible that relates to God’s ordering of the relationships between the sexes, while you are guided by criteria which discount (or, flatly reject) these same Biblical criteria."


Read it all. There's a good reference to D.A. Carson's work on exegetical fallacies.

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