Tuesday, April 6, 2010

E is for the English Standard Version Bible

E = English Standard Version

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every
word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Matthew 4:4 (ESV)

They call the ESV (English Standard Version) the Bible for life. I think that they are right! I obtained a copy of the ESV shortly after it was published in the fall of 2001 and I enjoyed it immediately. I took my time in evaluating it knowing that it was both new and would be subject to subsequent updates.

In time I came to love the ESV much more than my long time and precious friend the NKJV. Within two years of evaluating and using my ESV, I made the complete switch. I now use my ESV for my devotional reading, in my sermon preparation, and in my preaching. [Of course in serious study for sermons I still reference some dozen or more English translations.] My exclusive choice for reading, studying, memorizing, and preaching is the English Standard Version.

I now have four ESVs for my personal use. I keep a hard back edition in the car for reading while waiting on the wife to shop. I have a thin line edition for funerals, weddings, or speaking engagements that call for less than a regular bible. I have a beautiful regular size edition for pulpit preaching and teaching. Finally, I have the massive yet invaluable hardback study bible for my office.

The ESV is essentially a literal, “word for word” translation of Greek and Hebrew texts. I think it has made great strides in combing a “word for word” translation with the accuracy of “literary excellence” and readability.” In other words it reads very smoothly, which also makes for very easy memorization. It is not clumsy or cumbersome like the NASB version has been.

The three main things that I like about this version and why I recommend it are:

First, unfamiliar and archaic language was updated into the current usage of words and phrases with some significant corrections. These corrections were the result of increased scholarship in the translation of certain key Greek texts.

Second, many of the Greek verbs were revisited resulting in some significant updating in the Tense, Voice, or the Mood of various verbs which made the translation of those verbs more accurate.

Third, I like the fact that each word and phrase in the ESV was very carefully weighed against the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, in order to ensure the fullest accuracy and clarity which lends itself to avoiding any under-translating or overlooking any nuance of the original text.

As far as the Greek Manuscripts utilized in this translation the publishers made this statement, “The ESV is based on the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible as found in Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (2nd ed., 1983), and on the Greek text in the 1993 editions of the Greek New Testament (4th corrected ed.), published by the United Bible Societies (UBS), and Novum Testamentum Graece (27th ed.), edited by Nestle and Aland.”


Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

I've never tried the ESV until I got RC Sproul's Reformation Study Bible. I like it, but still not as much as the NKJV (I have Dr. MacArthur's edition). I like the ESV, don't get me wrong, but I guess I'm just more used to the NKJV.

Great post.


I have been a KJV and NIV for a number of years. Recently I bought the ESV for my IPhone. I getting to like it more and more.

I am wondering if you will get comments from those who believe there is no version acceptable but the KJV. I was once shut down in a church after called on to stand and read a scripture. I read from the NASB. The preacher told me to sit down and asked another person to read the scripture.

Thanks for the A B C blogs. God bless.

Gregg said...

Mike - it is hard to switch, I know. I loved my NKJV. I made the change gradual and when I had to keep explaining why the choice of words in the NKJV was quite what the Greek text was saying and I saw that the ESV had made the correct choice, I finally went with it. NKJV is a good version, no problems in sticking with it.

Inside the Shrink - The one version I don't like is the NIV. It is not a word for word translaton, it is a thought for thought. The translators decided to try and ascertain the thought process of the authors and then translate that thought for us. The major problem with this is two fold, first, they took over the job of interpretation which is the readers job not the translators, second, they just miss the translation in too many places. One can spend a great amount of time correcting it. The KJV is a good translation from the TR text. It has endured for centuries.

To answer your question - I have from time to time comments from KJV only people - most of the time though it seems I am fortunate they "miss" my blog. The man that told you to sit down and asked for another reader was ignorant. Not stupid, as you know, but uneducated in textual criticism, manuscript evidence, translation challenges, etc.


I cut my teeth on the KJV when God saved me.
Soon after I switched to the NASB because that was the version the pastor used at the baptist church I was attending at the time. I've continued with the NASB to this day. I'm planning on buying a copy of the ESV and giving it a try but it's hard to change when your are familiar with a version you have read for the past 25 years

Trevor Peck said...

I Love my ESV. It is the "Standard"!

Love in the Truth.

Pastor Don said...

ESV is a terrific translation.
The MacArthur Study Bible will be released in the ESV this October.
The ESV Study Bible has excellent notes.
I've been an NASB guy for forty years now. It was my Bible through seminary (one of my profs was an NASB translator - gave us insights into the translation process and purpose of the English style). One of the school Deans was an editor of the NKJV (I appreciate that it is both "fresh and familiar" having grown up with the KJV). A current prof at the seminary worked on the ESV translation.
The NIV is very readable, but disappoints in its translation at points and is often interpretive of the text.

Lisa said...

I learn new things from you all the time, Gregg, thanks. I'm going to have to go out and get an ESV. I currently use only the NKJV, but I love the way you explained how and why you trust this version. Good enough for me. Anything to get His Word in my heart. And if it works better, great.

Have a blessed day.

(PS - I'm an exclamation point over user and have know that for a long time. This challenge has made me REALLY look at my writing skills (or lack thereof). Notice the absence of them in this post? :O))

Shannon said...

Gregg, I don't have the ESV but would like to get one, I enjoy reading the different translations because there is always a slightly different gem to glean from each! I would love to have a look at yours maybe when we are there this summer if that is okay with you. Thanks for sharing this info friend!

Gregg said...

OG - I started with the KJV, then went to the NKJV, between both was some 30 years I know how hard it is to switch anything. Remember,regardless of the version we still have the Word of God. but I think you will like the ESV when you buy it. Make the change slow, evaluate and use for a period of time.

Trevor - thanks for your comment and glad you like the ESV.

Pastor Don - I just love you to death. Thanks for reading and commenting - I am honored! Thanks for your info including the fact the MacArthur Study Bible is coming out this year in the ESV. I hope you will drop by again. (For my readers he is my Pastor)

Lisa - you humble me. I am glad that I can share some new things and insight with you. I think you will enjoy it, it seems to me to be easier to read and memorize than my beloved NKJV I used for years. Give it a shot and then let me know what you think. I think I use to many exclamation points myself, maybe you can help me too.

Shannon - I would recommend you picking one up. Look in used book stores or go to monergism.com and order a thin line ESV for only 17.00 plus shipping. I will have Irene and Shannon bring a copy down to you to look at.

Mike Andrews said...

This is a must have for the Christian! Especially the ESV Study Bible..... As Trev said its the "Standard"

Raquel Byrnes said...

I used to work in a christian bookstore owned by an older couple. We did a lot of mailing to a nearby prison for the families. One thing they said always stuck with me.

"The best version of the Bible, is the one they will read. No sense in arguing for a version you think is right, if it only sits on the shelf."

I never could make up my mind on which one I like...The English Version sounds great. Wonderful post.

Anonymous said...

I used the NIV for years and recently switched to the ESV. I love the Bible translation and the study notes.

Brian Ray Todd said...

Thank you for your review of the ESV. I too use the NKJV and NIV. I'll check it out. Wish I read Greek and Hebrew.