Sunday, November 17, 2013

Gideons edition of the English Standard Version

The Gideons International recently began distributing the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible. They distribute a modern English translation in addition to the King James Version (KJV). Previously, they used the New King James Version (NKJV). I believe that when HarperCollins bought Thomas Nelson the contract with Gideons for the NKJV was not renewed. This left them looking for a new modern English version.

The Gideons' agreement with Crossway allowed them to make changes to the ESV. Verses that were only in footnotes in the original ESV are restored. Other changes were made that often bring the ESV into agreement with the Textus Receptus. A full list of the changes in the New Testament was developed by Joshua Holman. You can read his list here. I have not found any changes to the Old Testament yet. You can read about the switch in the June issue of The Gideon.

You can read the Gideons' edition of the ESV online at their website. The link is for their reading schedule. Be sure to click on ESV under "select version."

Each camp will decide which issue to distribute. The existence of a modern English version does not mean they quit distributing the KJV.

I continue to be excited about the mission of the The Gideons International. According to their website history:

It's been just over 100 years since The Gideons International placed the first Bible in a hotel room in Montana. Today, Gideons are organized in more than 190 countries around the globe. Bibles and New Testaments are printed for distribution by The Gideons International in more than 90 languages. Through God's grace and to His Glory, more than 1.8 billion Bibles and New Testaments have been placed through our association, and the work continues. . .

“The sower soweth the word.”—Mark 4:14

Thank you, Joshua Holman, for links, your excellent chart and all your help!


  1. Hi!

    I'm pretty sure the Gideon ESV OT is the 2011 text. As part of the 2011 changes, Crossway dropped the ellipsis from 1 Sam 13:1. The Gideon text relfects this.They inherited these from the RSV. If anyone is interested I have posted high-res scans of a Gideon ESV NT, Psalms, Proverbs on my Flickr account here:

  2. I have a Gideons ESV New Testament. It is a nice little Bible well made with easy to read print size (for a pocket Testament). Thousands will be saved through this new Bible.

  3. It's good to see that they salvaged key verses in the ESV before distributing them. It is still a shame that they no longer distribute the NKJV which is a better bible.

  4. I too use the NKJV as well as the old standby KJV. That being said, I can, with a degree of certainty, explain why Gideons I'ntl initially adapted the NKJV as as their primary English text. Gideons I'ntl and Thomas Nelson Pub. (owner of the NKJV) are both headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. The director of Thomas Nelson Pub. was a member of the local Gideon camp, as was the I'ntl director of the Gideons at the time I was there. (I'll spare you their names). I met and conversed with both of them and enjoyed guided tours through both establishments by their respective directors. Deductive reasoning suggests that the reason why the NKJV was adopted by the Gideons was the relationship between these two directors, since they were both members of the same Gideon camp as well as personal friends. I concur with their choice.
    Now, time has passed and both men are gone. The ESV New Testament is a good translation in all respects, except for one thing. It follows the Nestles-Aland/UBS Greek NT, taken from the Alexandrian Greek text manuscript line. The NKJV and KJV New Testaments are both taken from the Byzantine Greek/Received Text (Textus Receptus) manuscript line, otherwise known as the Majority Greek Text.
    The additions to the Gideon ESV New Testament are those missing in the regular ESV. This is because they are missing in the Nestles-Aland/UBS Greek NT. Yet, they remain present in the Majority Greek Text line, which is essentially the foundation of the NKJV/KJV New Testament, as described.
    My conclusion of this whole thing is: Why? If it runs well, then don’t try and fix it! Their reasoning escapes me. Why adapt a different translation when the NKJV New Testament text is essentially the same as the ESV? Essentially, that is, apart from these missing portions in the ESV, the very reason that Gideon leadership chose to add them in their adapted version of the ESV.

    Ron Myers
    Missionary and Bible Translator

  5. Have you read the American King James Version or the Kj3 version?
    Both better than the nkjv.