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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Calling all ESV enthusiasts

Joe Missionary asks in the comments to my previous post, ESV wish list:
I have a question for ya...what's the big deal about the ESV? I don't mean to sound snippy, but all of a sudden everyone is talking about it as if it is THE translation of choice. Is it because they have a blog and handy website tools? Does it have anything to do with a Reformed theology slant? (I only ask that because the biggest voices talking about it are Reformed guys, and I know they have a Reformed version as well.)
I responded to Joe:
Wow, Joe, I have been wondering the same thing you have. I think it would be better for some ESV proponents to answer that question. Until then, I think part of the issue is an ideological one, the ESV was born out of frustration with the direction that the NIV team was taking with gender-inclusive language, and, also, a growing (or continuing) belief among some Bible scholars (and users) that the best Bible is one that is "essentially literal." It was felt that the popular NIV was not literal enough, although, from my perspective it is clearly in the Formal Equivalence camp. Well, let's hear from those who have been promoting the ESV on their blogs and elsewhere. They can tell us what it is about the ESV that they find so satisfying.
Well, enough speculation on my part. Let's hear from enthusiastic ESV users. If you can think of specific examples from the ESV that would illustrate why you are enthusiastic about it, that would be nice to hear about, but if you can't, that's fine also.

Stop the presses! Just before I hit the "Publish Post" button, my RSSReader notified me that another blog, Bible Archive, has just asked the same question. So, maybe ESV enthusiasts should cross-post their answers to both blogs. Or at least readers of each blog should check for answers on the other blog.

Categories: ,


At Tue Jun 21, 11:28:00 AM, Blogger Rey said...

Brother, I updated my post to reflect the cross-commenting possibility. Thanks for pointing my nose in your direction with this call to action!

At Tue Jun 21, 12:00:00 PM, Blogger Rey said...

woops! here's the link which seems to be not working from the feed.

At Tue Jun 21, 01:02:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Thanks, Brother Rey, I have now fixed that link.

At Tue Jun 21, 02:54:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

The Reformation Study Bible is now releasing an edition with the ESV, but that doesn't make the translation Reformed any more than their use of the NASB and NKJV in the past.

The reason I'm excited about the ESV is that I've been waiting for years for something between the NASB and NIV. The ESV and HCSB came out within a few years of each other, both occupying such a position. I've only read the NT of the HCSB, so I can't comment on that, but I've read the whole ESV except a few of the minor prophets, and I really do think it's the sort of thing I was looking for. It has nothing to do with the TNIV, which isn't doing anything new anyway. The NRSV, NLT, and others did the inclusive language thing first, and the only other changes in the TNIV are improvements over the NIV. I plan to get the TNIV and read through the whole thing. While I have just the NT, I'm reading that and enjoying it. It's a good translation. It's just not what I prefer for my primary one. The ESV is.

So the short of it is that my reason for liking the ESV is exactly what you don't want answers to be. I don't like it because of specific examples. I like it because of the general approach.

At Tue Jun 21, 03:12:00 PM, Blogger Glennsp said...

I am afraid that like the previous comment I will not be giving specific examples.
After 10 years using the NIV I decided to switch to the ESV because it is a more literal translation (sorry) and I want a Bible that is as close as I can get to the original and is still readable.
I also was very impressed with the scholars involved in the translation.
The sad event of the TNIV didn't help. I wont be reading the TNIV, what ever for, it twists and corrupts the text and in many cases completely alters the original import of the text. If you want actual examples there is a sample list of 910 instances at this address
Life is too short to waste time reading something like the TNIV.
Back to the ESV - for all aspects of study I have found the ESV to be a better option than the NIV.
Do I think that people must read and use the ESV at all costs - No.
Use what you are happy with. Just remember that for study of the Word of God, with a literal translation you are nearer to the original than with others.
If that doesn't matter to you, fine. God bless and keep you and all strength to your studies. You are not a lesser Christian because of that decision.
I still wish that Crossway were bringing out their Study Bible before Fall/Autumn 2008.

At Tue Jun 21, 03:20:00 PM, Blogger Glennsp said...

Oh, by the way, I forgot. When studying I tend to use the NASB as well. To compare and cross reference. I have also kept my NIV.
The ESV is my Primary for Study, quiet time, memorisation and the like.
I was also swayed by the reasons that John Piper gave for his switching from the NASB to the ESV - see

At Tue Jun 21, 03:29:00 PM, Anonymous Mark Porter said...

I use the ESV principally because it had been recommended so much by my church, and in particular our student pastor here (he being the main bible/theology person among the staff team). He is slightly more calvinist in his theology, but also very much an egalitarian in the gender debate as well as a charismatic. The church still uses the NIV for most things, but when Simon is preaching he often brings up in sermons "the NIV gets it wrong here" or something along those lines - not so much wrong as that there is an important nuance of the original text that it neglects to render. The ESV is then often brought up as an exemplar of a translation which conveys the original sense more accurately.

At Tue Jun 21, 04:23:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

My apologies to those of you who have so graciously posted so far. I can see that my request that comments be specific has gotten in the way of your being able to express why you are enthusiastic about the ESV. I'm going to go now and revise that portion of my blog post to try to make it so it doesn't hinder the freedom to post how you really feel. My request for specificity was intended to be helpful and not a hindrance, which I think it turned out to be. And as I read over Jermey's post (I'll get to the others in turn) I realized that Jeremy was being specific, specific about the things which were important to him. So the answer really was what I was hoping for, anyway. Sometimes it's difficult to communicate clearly, isn't it? I suspect there is a lesson in there somewhere for Bible translation work, but right now I'm too tired to think about it. I just finished a grueling day of editing sound files for our tribal translation. Thanks, guys, and y'all post freely, from your hearts (and minds).

At Tue Jun 21, 04:35:00 PM, Anonymous Brian said...

They below blow entry has a link to an ongoing post concerning the ESV (why people like it, why people have switched, etc etc...)

At Tue Jun 21, 05:03:00 PM, Blogger Phil (Col 1:27-28) said...

Yes, I admit it, I am an ESV enthusiast. I used the NIV for 25 years faithfully and so I do not change translations easy or often. In fact this is only the second time in my life that I have changed primary translations. I have been in the ministry for over 27 years now. I am not a Reformed or Baptist Pastor. Rather I am a Pentecostal Pastor.

When I first began reading the ESV in 2001, I immediately fell in love with it. I found it readable, clear, fresh, and very much like coming home after being gone for a long time. After making the switch and having used the ESV for awhile now, I still as am excited about it as I ever was. I find making the switch to it a lot easier than moving from the KJV to the NIV was. It is a translation that I know that I can trust and for me this is crucial, besides I really, really like it. I actually do not understand why everyone doesn't like it as much as I do ;).

I wholeheartedly endorse, encourage others to read for themselves and buy a copy to use primarily in their study, memorization, preaching and teaching and writing. It's great!

Blessings in Christ Jesus!

At Tue Jun 21, 05:31:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Brian, thank you for posting the link to your blog post on the ESV. I have added it to the "Bloggers on the ESV" section of my ESV links webpage, url:

At Tue Jun 21, 06:33:00 PM, Blogger Brian Mann said...

I certainly like the ESV, and any translation that is faithful to the original texts. Even so, my difficulty with translations is when they do not stay word for word. I have been using the NASB 1977 because it does not remove words nor re-arrange the text. This is bothersome when doing word studies. Perhaps the ESV will consider producing a version with Strongs numbers linked in digital form and in a key-word study format. This may be of great help to them. The KJV and the NASB have both done this and therefore my confidence still remains in them. The ESV is definitely a favorite, but it lacks that ability to check the text like the KJV and NASB.

At Tue Jun 21, 08:11:00 PM, Blogger Scott said...


I don't want to be too repetitive in what has already been posted so I'll try to cover a few things I like (as per your request Wayne)

I come from a denominational background that largely is KJV. To me, the switch to the ESV was a natural since it's writing style (both in wording and in cadence) closely follows the KJV in its translation equivalence. The ESV folks were able to do this while still bringing the language into a fresh, readable format without compromising the beauty of the biblical text.

It was a big decision to switch translations in the church I pastor. The one comment I'm hearing from folks is that it is relatively easy for them to follow along in their KJV's as I read and preach from the ESV text. As people buy new bibles, they are gradually making the switch to ESV's as they replace their old KJV's.

I might add my background is Arminian and I feel the ESV is an accurate translation for me to use. I would love it if they came out with a Wesley Study Edition like Thomas Nelson did with the NKJV a few years back.

Pastor Scott

At Wed Jun 22, 06:13:00 AM, Anonymous Rob Waller said...

I have been asked by Wayne to add something to this debate. You may want to read my post that got me noticed by him.

My main reason for liking the ESV is that many people have told me that it is the most accurate. I find it easy to read, but it is the scholarly aspect that draws me in. I am relatively post-modern in my aprpoach to the inerrancy of scripture - believing that God is more inherent In scripture than the bible is inerrant in the english form we have. But, even with this, i think it is important to do the best we can with translation.

i have been pqarticularly annoyed by the tendency of the NIV to not be gender neutral and to miss out all the prepositions like 'for'!!


At Thu Jun 23, 12:08:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Rob, inerrantists don't think the Bible is inerrant in English!

At Thu Jun 23, 02:37:00 PM, Anonymous Eduardo said...

Wayne: I am an ESV enthusiast too. I blogged about it in last September:

The Bible, English Standard Version

Hope this is useful.


(from Asuncion, Paraguay, South America)

At Thu Jun 23, 05:29:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Bueno, hermano Eduardo. Mucho gusto conocerle. Quizas tres semanas ayer ya ví su blog, y lo escritó el en mi pagina, url:

I realize, Eduardo, that your English is excellent, far better than my primitive Spanish, but there is something that happens in my heart whenever I have the opportunity to speak a little Spanish. My wife was born in Mexico City, and is bilingual. In fact, she was just completing a phone conversation with a lady from Mexico City with whom she has been a friend since high school days.

Thank you for posting your thoughts about the ESV on your blog and thank you for mentioning it here on this blog. I hope others will visit your blog to read your post there.

Wayne (Juan, en Mexico)

At Sat Jun 25, 09:27:00 PM, Anonymous Eduardo said...

Wayne, thank you so much for your kind comments. Your ESV Links page is very good. I plan to link both the ESV blog and yours in mine -- the ESV for the obvious reason that I like it, and yours, because this blog provides extremely illuminating commentary on serious Bible language issues.



At Sun Jun 26, 11:47:00 AM, Anonymous Eduardo said...

Wayne, by the way this review by Rev. Richard Kew (an evangelical Episcopalian) might be useful for your ESV Links page:

Looking at the English Standard Version (ESV)



At Sat Jul 23, 04:57:00 PM, Blogger Politickal Animal said...

When I was just out of seminary, the NRSV came out. It superceded the old RSV (which I loved and learned my Bible from). The NRSV showed signs of being politically correct(ed). A glance at Genesis 1 showed some differences -- like "In the beginning, when God created..." And there are other examples. Anyway, I like the ESV because it is more uptodate in using the best sources, captures the best qualities of the old RSV, and is not so self-consciously politically correct as the NRSV. All of which is to say it is my preaching Bible of choice (though I also use NIV, NKJV, NLT, and MESSAGE on occasion)

At Sat Jul 23, 05:43:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Dear Politickal, you said: "The NRSV showed signs of being politically correct(ed). A glance at Genesis 1 showed some differences -- like "In the beginning, when God created...""

Yes, the NRSV had a mandate, explained in its introduction, to be translated to address various "social" concerns, which can be interpreted as p.c. The abundance of gender-inclusive language in the NRSV would be considered p.c. by many conservatives. Translation of Gen. 1:1, however, is not an instance of p.c.

Instead, NRSV Gen. 1:1 exhibits accurate translation of the Hebrew. Bible scholars have known for a long time that it is unclear whether Gen. 1:1 should start out as "In the beginning God created ..." or "In the beginning, when God ..." Check with your seminary profs and they can give you more of the background on this. It has nothing to do with theology or p.c., but, rather what is the most accurate way to translate the Hebrew of the first book of the Bible. It is also accurate to translate in the traditional way. Bible scholars, including theological conservatives, do not have a consensus, and perhaps never will, on what is the most accurate way to translate Gen. 1:1.

Thanks for visiting this blog. I hope you have enjoyed your visit. And please do come back again.


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