Recently we’ve heard from a few customers who have seen a post on Facebook suggesting that someone is out to corrupt the New International Version (NIV) and English Standard Version (ESV) Bibles, and that they need to act quickly to make sure they archive a copy of the “real” Bible before gays and satanists ruin it. The post usually looks something like this:
This is a variation on the claims that newer Bibles remove verses from the “original” (by which they usually mean the King James Version). But in this version of the panic-inducing message, the argument is that the newer versions themselves are being updated, purportedly by the gays and satanists at Harper Collins, to remove verses and change words.
The fact of the matter is that updates have been made to these two Bibles. Ongoing updates are often made by the translators of all modern Bibles to address errors in previous editions, changes in language and usage, and to incorporate a better understanding of the original Hebrew and Greek texts. This is not unusual; even the King James Version was updated for these purposes during the early years of its existence.
With respect to the NIV, Zondervan, and Harper Collins, it’s important to note that the text of the NIV is actually maintained by Biblica, formerly the International Bible Society, a ministry that translates the Bible into dozens of languages and distributes it freely throughout the world. Zondervan is their commercial publishing partner, but Biblica maintains the text, just as they do their other Bibles. So despite the claims of this Facebook post, Harper Collins is not changing the text.
The ESV is an update to the Revised Standard Version (RSV), which itself was a revision of the American Standard Version (ASV). The ASV was an “Americanized” edition of the Revised Version (RV), which was a late-19th-century update to the King James Version. Coincidentally, the ASV was originally published by Thomas Nelson, which today is owned by the same parent company (Harper Collins) that owns Zondervan.
With respect to the complaints about the ESV, given its history one is compelled to question which earlier version the author would have us revert to. This is not made clear. In fact, there is very little clarity in the Facebook post.
We’re frankly disappointed that so many people are sucked in by claims like this. I suppose it could be true that there is a world-wide conspiracy by homosexuals who are in league with satanists to corrupt the Bible. I don’t think the author argues that point very well, if at all, but I suppose it could be possible. I think it’s more likely that an uneducated person who is ignorant of how Bible translation works and of the history of the Bible noticed that both his NIV Bible and his copy of the Joy of Gay Sex were published by Harper Collins and decided everyone on Facebook needed to know about it.