Lane Dennis, the ESV, and the Internet Age

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Once upon a time, I was preaching as a special youth speaker in a church in the South. It was my fourth or fifth time there. The pastor was KJV-Only, and I knew this, so I converted all the ESV quotations in my sermon to KJV quotations. I was preaching from my laptop—but in the rush of the moment I accidentally used the wrong file! The pastor’s daughter reported my ESV-usage to her dad, who wasn’t present, and I was asked not to return. They don’t hate me, and I still have some contact with them, but I’m not likely to be going back.

One of the pastor’s biggest objections to modern translations of the Bible was this, “You can’t copyright the Word of God.”

My answer to that has always been a verse from that Word of God: “The labourer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7). If someone goes to the trouble and expense of assembling an august group of Christian scholars and then pays to have their work organized, vetted, type-set, and printed, a copyright protects that work from being stolen or altered. The Bible does not demand that Christians give away all their work to other Christians for free.

esv But along comes the Internet Age, and at its dawn, the ESV. I noticed years ago that the ESV was different from other good translations in its use of technology. And things have only gotten better. Free iPhone and iPad apps, a number of free ESV websites—and they all look fantastic. I think these things have gone a long way in helping justify the S in ESV.

I knew someone at the top over at Crossway must be behind this push, because I gather that most people who have the power to make such decisions at different publishers are part of a generation which fears technology and is loathe to release their material online. Well, now Lane Dennis of Crossway has explained himself. This is a good read, and a good model.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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