Matthew R. Perry

Why Do I Use the English Standard Version?

In ESV on July 16, 2006 at 9:06 pm

Visit www.esv.org to learn about the ESV Bible

Crossway has produced a wonderful video dealing with the translation philosophy and the great benefits of using the English Standard Version as a translation.

Here is an introductory note from the ESV Website:

The ESV Bible is a new, essentially literal Bible translation that combines word-for-word precision and accuracy with literary excellence, beauty, and readability.

“The English Standard Version (ESV) is a “word-for-word,” essentially literal translation because every word of the Bible is inspired by God.

“Based on this principle, more than sixty of the world’s leading Bible scholars pored over every word and phrase to achieve the unique accuracy, excellence, and beauty of the ESV Bible.

“The result is a new Bible translation (published in October 2001) that has a timeless quality and enduring relevance—a translation to trust for today and for generations to come.

“With its distinctive combination of accuracy, excellence, and beauty, the ESV is ideally suited to become one Bible to meet our needs for all of life:

  • For personal reading and in-depth study
  • For preaching, teaching, and public worship
  • For family reading and devotions
  • For memorizing and understanding the Word of God.”
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  1. […] Earlier this week Matt Perry pointed to a video about the English Standard Version produced by Crossway.  It is a good introduction to the ESV and the distinction of its translation philosophy (literal, word for word) vs. the popular Dynamic Equivalence (thought for thought) philosophy. […]

  2. I’ve heard that a significant revision of the ESV is coming out this year where a number of suggestions and criticisms have been addressed. Have you heard any word when this second edition is supposed to be released?

  3. I have not heard a word about this, Rick. What do you know?

  4. The first I heard about it was well over a year ago on the Better Bibles Blog when it was announced that the committee was asking for comments and suggestions. See http://englishbibles.blogspot.com/2005/05/esv-revisions.html

    Since then I keep hearing references to the revision, usually in blog comments, and most recently on BBB. There seems to be indication that the release is immenent, but I can’t get a firm date nailed down.

  5. […] The video I alluded to in an earlier blog (7.16.06) does a nice job of showing other translation philosophies.  One of which is the ‘dynamic equivalence.’  This is where they basically take a biblical phrase and then modernize it into the idiom of the 21st century rather than keeping the original translation from that era. […]

  6. I too have been trying to get a response from Crossway regarding an upcoming release of an ESV revision. They have not responded to 2 emails so far. My church will likely be making a switch from the NIV to the ESV, and I don’t want to make such an investment yet if a revision is right around the corner. Seems nobody has the real skinny on what’s happening. I suppose it’s a delicate matter, since sales could plummet if people discover that something new is coming soon.

  7. And they’re probably keeping quiet so as to forestall loss of sales. That’s understandable. However, I’d recommend waiting because (1) the revision is supposed to be released any day and (2) anytime a new translation is released the text editions (i.e. pew editions) are released first.

  8. See, now there you go again spreading rumors! ; )

    Seriously though, I just wish I could get an accurate, informed time estimate. Your comment “any day” could be interpreted as this week or month, but I’m not sure you’re basing your statement on any particular “inside scoop.” I’ve read someplace that the revision would be released sometime in 2007. I agree though, that I should wait on any pew editions till I hear more.

  9. Sorry, my “any day” is a hunch, not an “inside scoop.” But regardless, even if it were 2007, I’d wait at this point (since the reality of a revision is a fact) until the new editions are released.

    Plus, for some weird reason, in the last few years, new bindings and editions of Bible have been released late summer or fall–almost like “fall fashions” so to speak. So without any definite knowledge from Crossway, if I were guessing when the new edition of the ESV was to be released, I’d guess in the next few months. But again, this is just a hunch.

  10. So in light of these updates and new editions, what have you heard about the specifics of the changes/revisions? I’ll just say this: their ESV Journaling Bible as well as the TruTone Bibles are marvelous! I took my compact TruTone to Trinidad over two years ago and have taken it on visitation frequently, had it subjected to stompings and rainings and flying off my car (I fear this says more about me than this edition), but it has held up incredibly well.

    Oh, did you notice that on the ESV Blog that they made a comment about me on an “ESV Blogging Kick?”
    http://www.esv.org/blog/2006/07/journaling.bible.reviews

    Is that a slam? Pretty funny to me!

    Matt

  11. Hopefully their Compact TruTone Journaling Bible will be released soon. I write very small, and this would complete my collection.

    I did purchase one of Allen’s ESV goatskin edition, and must say I’ve never owned a nicer Bible before. The binding and feel are truly exquisite.

  12. I have no solid information regarding what changes will be made. The fact that the ESV was based on the RSV is not only a strength, but also a weakness. While the ESV committee took out some archaic word–most notably “thee” and “thou” language–certain archaic sentence structure of the Tyndale/KJV remains. The ESV has most often been criticized for maintaining the “reversed negative” word order in some verses of the RSV such as in Rom 6:12, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies.” The word “therefore” seems out of place in the sentence as well. A better translation in keeping with contemporary use of language would be “Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies.”

    My guess is that the new edition of the ESV will primarily clean up these out-of-date phrasings left over from the RSV.

    If you want to see a more extensive listing of criticisms of the ESV, go to the Better Bibles Blog entry on the ESV at http://englishbibles.blogspot.com/2005/04/esv-english-standard-version.html and check out the comments.

    Before you get too defensive about their criticisms, note that they have a page like this for just about every modern translation. And I would assume that one of the blog’s contributors, Wayne Leman, sent many of these suggestions to the ESV committee last year when they called for them.

  13. I thought of another potential change.

    There was also some interesting discussion a few weeks back regarding the ESV’s use of “at table.” See http://www.pantokrator.org/2006/04/14/esv-poor-grammar-at-table especially the comments that followed. This was even picked up on over at the ESV blog: http://www.esv.org/blog/2006/04/at.table

    While it was stated on the ESV blog that the choice had been deliberately made to leave “at table” as it was in the text, I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t be changed in the ESV revision. It’s one thing to keep traditional language if that’s a goal for a translation, but to me “at table” isn’t traditional, but overly formal, somewhat British, and reasonably outdated.

    I would think that a lot of these little picky things left over from the RSV will be changed in the ESV revision.

  14. Believe it or not, “at table” doesn’t bother me because that is actual Jewish terminology when dealing with the Passover. Alan Shore of Chosen People Ministries came to our church and kept referring to the Passover Table as being “at table.” That’s valid and it makes me respect the ESV all the more.

    Also, I actually like the “let nots” word ordering. It has actually helped my people here at Boone’s Creek transition easier from the KJV to the ESV… it still maintains the poetic language and cadence that makes the KJV so beloved.

    Having said all that, if they decided to revise some of these things, I wouldn’t lose sleep — it’s still the best translation available.

    I’ve enjoyed this, Rick! Let’s keep it up!

  15. My concerns with the wording in a translation generally only come from two things: (1) when the wording is so foreign (archaic) or even awkward to contemporary usage that it impedes the communication of the Scriptures, or (2) when it takes a form more formal or rigid than what was represented in the original languages themselves (“thee” and “thou” language is represented by this as there are not separate pronouns for addressing deity in the original languages).

    I’m convinced that the KJV falls into the first category, even among those who have used it for years. I’ve yet to find a staunch KJV user who knows how the word “conversation” is being used in Phil 3:20 in the KJV, and there are many such examples of how the language has changed.

    However, I could see how the archaic forms remaining in the ESV might help pull some away from the KJV. However, for the sake of good translation, I would hope that the second edition changes some of these things.

    I see your point regarding “at table,” but in the large majority of instances (with the exception of the references regarding the Lord’s Supper), none of contexts have anything to do with passover, and so it seems a bit awkward.

    I teach writing pretty regularly at IWU (in fact, I’m presently teaching a course in business writing). I tell my students that it’s good when their readers stop reading because something they’ve written has caused pause and reflection. However, it’s bad when a reader stops because of stumbling over something awkward or poorly worded.

    I believe when regarding the Bible, it’s the Holy Spirit who causes us to pause and reflect, but it’s the translator’s responsibility to communicate the Scriptures in the receiver’s language so that the words are clearly understood.

    It also helps to translate in a way that the message can be clearly understood when heard. I was surprised when I saw the ESV translators didn’t correct the RSV’s auditory awkwardness of Luke 22:35:

    RSV: And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no purse or bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.”

    ESV: And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.”

    The ESV translators rightly changed “purse” to “moneybag” so that the modern reader doesn’t think of the disciples as being rather effiminate. However, try reading the last sentence out loud. The person listening to this translation might mistakenly hear “They said nothing” as if the disciples were sulking and didn’t respond.

    This verse has been brought to the attention of the committee as well, so if I were a betting man, I would wager a change in this verse in the forthcoming revision as well.

  16. My concerns with the wording in a translation generally only come from two things: (1) when the wording is so foreign (archaic) or even awkward to contemporary usage that it impedes the communication of the Scriptures, or (2) when it takes a form more formal or rigid than what was represented in the original languages themselves (“thee” and “thou” language is represented by this as there are not separate pronouns for addressing deity in the original languages).

    I’m convinced that the KJV falls into the first category, even among those who have used it for years. I’ve yet to find a staunch KJV user who knows how the word “conversation” is being used in Phil 3:20 in the KJV, and there are many such examples of how the language has changed.

    However, I could see how the archaic forms remaining in the ESV might help pull some away from the KJV. However, for the sake of good translation, I would hope that the second edition changes some of these things.

    I see your point regarding “at table,” but in the large majority of instances (with the exception of the references regarding the Lord’s Supper), none of contexts have anything to do with passover, and so it seems a bit awkward.

    I teach writing pretty regularly at IWU (in fact, I’m presently teaching a course in business writing). I tell my students that it’s good when their readers stop reading because something they’ve written has caused pause and reflection. However, it’s bad when a reader stops because of stumbling over something awkward or poorly worded.

    I believe when regarding the Bible, it’s the Holy Spirit who causes us to pause and reflect, but it’s the translator’s responsibility to communicate the Scriptures in the receiver’s language so that the words are clearly understood.

    It also helps to translate in a way that the message can be clearly understood when heard. I was surprised when I saw the ESV translators didn’t correct the RSV’s auditory awkwardness of Luke 22:35:

    RSV: And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no purse or bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.”

    ESV: And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.”

    The ESV translators rightly changed “purse” to “moneybag” so that the modern reader doesn’t think of the disciples as being rather effeminate. However, try reading the last sentence out loud. The person listening to this translation might mistakenly hear “They said nothing” as if the disciples were sulking and didn’t respond.

    This verse has been brought to the attention of the committee as well, so if I were a betting man, I would wager a change in this verse in the forthcoming revision as well.

  17. I just read on Amazon that the ESV release is coming in 2007:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0195278801/103-0213109-8895063?v=glance&n=283155

  18. […] For more info on this you can check out this post (comments section) or the Better Bibles Blog. […]

  19. Jeremy said:
    “I just read on Amazon that the ESV release is coming in 2007”

    Again, this seems to be nothing more than a speculative opinion by a reviewer, and by no means an official statement with any merit. He probably read this blog!

  20. Please keep in mind, that speculation did not originate on this blog. We will never know until one day on the ESV site we’ll see — “And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for!!! The Deluxe Reference Reformation Study Journaling TruTone Battlezone Edition! Now wouldn’t THAT be something? He-he!

  21. One high-level leak suggests that Crossway intend to publish a single-column reference ESV in January 2007 and that this will have the revised text. But this seems to contradict the fact that Crossway has several new editions in the pipeline before 2007, including the wide margin moleskin (just out), the Greek reverse interlinear, the Daily Reading edition, God’s Story editions, not to mention several new bindings/colours for existing editions. People who buy these and then discover a new edition in 2007 may feel badly let down.

  22. Well then, let’s speculate a tad more, shall we?

    This means:
    a) The revisions aren’t significant enough to warrant holding off on new editions before then.

    b) The new editions coming out before 2007 will also include the revisions (this includes the reverse interlinear), and they’ll be publishing a revised text without telling you.

    c) They are being extra quiet about any revisions, since this will certaintly ruin sales for the remainder of 2006.

    d) both a and c

    e) None of the above

    There, I’ve added to the endless speculation, and made this comment section 1 post longer! ; )

    -Steve

  23. A clue – even hard evidence – that the revised ESV may be imminent. The ESV blog has an entry which reproduces Acts 1 from the soon-to-be published reverse interlinear. Verse 3 differs from currently printed ESVs. The interlinear has, ‘He presented himself alive to them…’; the standard ESV has ‘To them he presented himself alive…’.
    This suggests the main revisions will be the ironing out of occurences of less than natural word order.

  24. Thanks, David. If that is the extent of the changes, I’ll stick with the one I have for now.

  25. Here’s more hard evidence- official word even…

    http://homepage.mac.com/rmansfield/thislamp/index.html

  26. Here’s a permalink to the official Crossway comment (for those looking at these comments at a later time than today): http://homepage.mac.com/rmansfield/thislamp/files/20060811_official_word_from_crossway.html

  27. Sorry Rick, I didn’t mean to steal your thunder. Hadn’t dawned on me ’till after the fact that you’ve been posting comments in here yoruself. My bad. : |

  28. No, Steve, you weren’t stealing thunder at all! I happened to see your comment and link and thought that I’d give an exact permalink for folks who look at this a few days from now or even longer.

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