Book Review: The ESV Study Bible Crossway Bibles, 2008 -- By: Philip Barton Payne

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 24:3 (Summer 2010)
Article: Book Review: The ESV Study Bible Crossway Bibles, 2008
Author: Philip Barton Payne

Book Review: The ESV Study Bible Crossway Bibles, 2008

Philip Barton Payne

Philip Barton Payne has been a Supervisor of NT Studies, University of Cambridge Colleges, Evangelical Free Church Missionary to Japan, and Visiting Professor of NT at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Bethel Seminary, and Fuller Seminary Northwest. He is President of Linguist’s Software and author of Man and Woman: One in Christ (Zondervan, 2009) and many articles available free at

Christianity Today (March 2009) 21 reports the ESV Study Bible sold 100,000 copies prior to its release. Its goals are admirable: “Within that broad tradition of evangelical orthodoxy, the notes have sought to represent fairly the various evangelical positions on disputed topics” (11). “Emphasizing word-for-word accuracy .. . it seeks to be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the original. ... In the area of gender language, the goal of the ESV is to render literally what is in the original” (11,19-20). It says it “has not kept the location of major variants a secret” (2589). Nevertheless, although affirming that woman was made in Gods image (2207), the ESV repeatedly avoids literal translations when Paul’s Greek supports women’s leadership, which is the focus of this review.

It changes Phoebe’s title, literally, “who is deacon [masculine] of the church in Cenchreae” (Rom. 16:1) to “a servant of the church at Cenchreae,” footnoted “deaconess.”

It translates Romans 16:7, “Andronicus and Junia ... are well known to the apostles,” even though Paul repudiates status based on human connections, and the standard New Testament Greek lexicon by Bauer, Danker, Arndt, and Gingrich, known as BDAG, says it means “outstanding among the apostles” (episemos).1 Since the ESV claims its footnotes “are an integral part of the ESV translation” (22), its footnote “Junias” (male) further undermines Paul’s affirmation of Junia. It notes, “both male and female forms are rare in Greek; however, the female equivalent of Junia is much more common in Latin” (2184). Eldon Jay Epp, however, observes, “all church writers of the first millennium of Christianity took the name as feminine ... a very common female name at the time of earliest Christianity . .. the alleged masculine forms are nowhere attested in the Greco-Roman milieu.”2

It translates 1 Corinthians 11:10, “a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head,” but “a symb...

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