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.”