“They” refers to the ESV Translation Committee.
My small group is going through the DVD series “God is the Gospel” by John Piper. In session 2, Dr. Piper talks about how the proper translation of μοιχαλίς (moy-khal-is’) in James 4.4 is “adulteresses” because (a) the word in the Greek is feminine and (b) the word picture in the passage is of the church as the bride being unfaithful to God as the husband. Yet the ESV translates the word “adulterous people.” The NIV also gets it wrong.
The HCSB, NASB, and ASV get it right:
4 Adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? (HCSB)
4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? (NASB)
4 Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? (ASV)
Piper, a friend to all who are on the ESV Committee, contacted Wayne Grudem about the mistake. Grudem agreed with Piper. Piper then suggested that when an update would come out, it would surely be fixed.
It was not fixed. On a recent post I linked to the list of changes in the latest (2011) update of the ESV. Disappointingly, and surprising to me, James 4.4 remains the same.
I’d love to get an explanation why.