In August 2016, Crossway made an announcement that they had decided to make the most recent update of the ESV text "permanent." In their words,
Beginning in the summer of 2016, the text of the ESV Bible will remain unchanged in all future editions printed and published by Crossway—in much the same way that the King James Version (KJV) has remained unchanged ever since the final KJV text was established almost 250 years ago (in 1769). This decision was made unanimously by the Crossway Board of Directors and the ESV Translation Oversight Committee. All future Crossway editions of the ESV, therefore, will contain the Permanent Text of the ESV Bible—unchanged throughout the life of the copyright, in perpetuity.
The number of changes in the new ESV Permanent Text is limited to 52 words (out of more than 775,000 total words in ESV Bible) found in 29 verses (out of more than 31,000 verses in the ESV). The guiding principle for creating the ESV Permanent Text was to make only a very limited number of final changes to the ESV text, where such changes represented a substantial improvement in the precision, accuracy, and understanding of the ESV.
Apparently Crossway didn't take too long to get the message. Less than two months after their initial announcement, they released a statement that effectively reversed their earlier decision. (You can read Crossway's new position here.) The publishers expressed no small regret over their controversial position:
We have become convinced that this decision was a mistake. We apologize 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.
Our goal at Crossway remains as strong as ever to serve future generations with a stable ESV text. But 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. These kinds of updates will be minimal and infrequent, but fidelity to Scripture requires that we remain open in principle to such changes, as the Crossway Board of Directors and the ESV Translation Oversight Committee see fit in years ahead.
Who knew Bible publishing could be so exciting? (Well, it's always been exciting to me, but this is one of the rare occasions when the media seem to have gotten into the game.) I would love to hear thoughts from readers of this blog. What do you think of Crossway's decisions on the ESV Permanent Text Edition? Let me know. Thanks for reading!