Why am I blogging about this? Simply put, I used to be one who would vacillate back and forth on versions. I’d go through a spell where I wanted accuracy, so I went to the New American Standard. Then I’d go through a spell where I wanted readability, so I’d go to the New International Version or the New Living Translation.
Then I became a pastor.
And for the first six month I was here, I preached out of four versions: the NKJV, the ESV, the NASB, and the NIV (once). On top of that, our church has King James Version Bibles in our pews. I had to choose — for my sake and for the sake of those in my congregation trying to follow me. It was too much of a distraction from hearing the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The more I read and studied and compared the ESV to the Greek, I found that this translation accomplished something rare among translations: it was readable and accurate to the text. It kept the original meaning and flavor of the Greek and Hebrew texts and translated them into beautiful English with a very poetic cadence that aided me in readability.
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.
Yet, the dynamic equivalence philosophy of translating seems more to me an interpretation than a translation. The way I preach about Christ, I need to know what the original authors said and meant, rather than having translators 2000 years removed from the time to make educated hypotheses of how it would have been said now.
Philip Graham Ryken, the pastor of the historic Tenth Presybeterian Church at Philadelphia, explains why he encouraged this church with such a wonderful history to move to the English Standard Version. You can read a transcript of his talk on the ESV Bible Blog or listen to the talk as an MP3 file.
John Piper, the pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis and the founder of Desiring God Ministries also make the case for why he switched from the New American Standard (considered the most literal translation around) to the English Standard Version. Here are some articles:
The ESV website has a number of endorsements as well (click here).
In closing, I urge all of you to find a Bible and read it voraciously. But make sure that your standard for the Scriptures is one that seeks to stay true to authorial intent rather than look solely to readability.