Why the ESV?

this is a topic that has been well covered by many others.

I don’t have much to add, except that as I explained below, it is very important to study scripture in a literal translation as close as possible to the original languages.

There are several literal versions. The one I grew up with is the King James. A more recent model is the New American Standard. Both are very good Bibles and I have used them both. I also like the Holman Christian Standard for being literal most of the time. The text helps that it uses such as bolding Old Testament quotes in the New Testament are invaluable.

However, I primarily use the ESV and have done so for a little more than two years. There are two primary reasons for this.

One is the fact that the ESV translators had available to them more ancient manuscripts that were discovered after but written before the manuscripts relied on by Erasmus when he wrote the greek new testament that later became known as the Textus Receptus. The Erasmus greek new testament was the basis for the KJV.

The ESV translators had more manuscripts available to them and thus were able to make a more complete translation with the best information. In addition, the ESV translators use generous footnotes when there is a slight variation between the two main bodies of ancient manuscripts so that the student of scripture is aware of what choices were made. The result is a trustworthy english text based on all of the information instead of part of the information.

Two is the effort made by the ESV translators to use english poetry and prose to match the beauty and style of what was written first in Hebrew and Greek. In other words, the english itself is beautiful. The one knock I had on the New American Standard was that it was clunky to read out loud to a Sunday School Class. The ESV mostly flows when read aloud.

As I have read and studied the ESV as my primary translation over the last two years or so, I have fallen more deeply in love with it all the time. I have learned that it is a trustworthy window into the original languages of scripture. I love it. I love reading it, studying it, and teaching from it.

UPDATE to address Bryon’s concerns linked below.

Bryon has posted on his blog about alleged misinformation that I have in my “why the ESV” post.

I certainly want to be accurate and to communicate clearly. It sounds like Bryon’s fuss is more with Crossway and/or Good News Bible Publishers. All I can go on is what they say since I was not involved in making the ESV.

I will direct anyone interested to ESV’s side of the story on these issues and let that be that. This will be cross posted as an update to the original “why the ESV” post as well. Each one of the links below goes to a Crossway page with more information. Here is the text of the entire preface to the ESV Bible for anybody that wants to read it.

here is more on the translation philosophy.

The ESV is an “essentially literal” translation that seeks as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer. As such, its emphasis is on “word-for-word” correspondence, at the same time taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages. Thus it seeks to be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the original.

here is more on the original manuscripts used.

Each word and phrase in the ESV has been carefully weighed against the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, to ensure the fullest accuracy and clarity and to avoid under-translating or overlooking any nuance of the original text.
….
Throughout, the Translation Team has benefited greatly from the massive textual resources that have become readily available recently, from new insights into biblical laws and culture, and from current advances in Hebrew and Greek lexicography and grammatical understanding.

here is more on the previous English versions used and relied on.

The words and phrases of the ESV grow out of the Tyndale-King James legacy, and most recently out of the RSV, with the 1971 RSV text providing the starting point for the ESV text. Archaic language was brought to current usage and significant corrections were made in the translation of key texts. But throughout, the translators’ goal was to retain the depth of meaning and enduring language that have made their indelible mark on the English-speaking world and have defined the life and doctrine of the church over the last four centuries.

and here is more on the translation notes.

The footnotes that accompany the ESV text inform the reader of textual variations and difficulties and show how these have been resolved by the ESV Translation Team. In addition to this, the footnotes indicate significant alternative readings and occasionally provide an explanation for technical terms or for a difficult reading in the text.

also, as I mentioned, I love the ESV and primarily use it for my reading and study. However, any serious Bible student will use several versions in any preparation for a lesson and I do. I really enjoy having a variety of translations to compare and I feel like we are blessed to live in a time when the Bible is so readily available to us in so many forms and translations.

The Bible Gateway is just an invaluable resource as is Blue Letter Bible.

If you aren’t reading the NET bible and its notes, (or here for another interface) then you are missing a very important and useful resource that is freely available to anybody with an internet connection.

Like I said before, the best Bible for you is the one that you will actually read rather than one you will leave in the car from one Sunday to the next.

Get one and then read it. Please.

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5 Responses

  1. […] Comments Why the ESV? «… on Bible translations and st…Bible translations a… on Bibles […]

  2. After having used several different translations extensively for the last 33 years, I think I’m back to liking the NASB best, even though I’m currently using the ESV.

  3. Hey Barry, thanks for stopping by. I never have ‘liked” the NAS, I just used it like I would a tool to accomplish a job. I like the NIV, the HCSB and, of course, the KJV. I love the ESV.

  4. […] a comment » An acquaintance sent me a blog article from Interstitial. It’s about why this blogger uses the ESV. Appropriately the post is titled, “Why the […]

  5. […] Comments The ESV and misinfor… on Why the ESV?Bryan on what is community?what is community? … on Is it possible?what is […]

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