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Is the ESV Bible Translation a Good One? You Decide!
(November 20th, 2009; Robert Marino)

J. I. Packer, ed., The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Containing the Old and New Testaments. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Bibles (a division of Good News Publishers), 2001.
This is an evangelical revision of the Revised Standard Version that corrects the non-Christian interpretations of the RSV in the Old Testament and improves the accuracy throughout with more literal renderings. It also updates the language somewhat. The makers of this version undertook the work with the idea that there was a need for an evangelical version that was more literal than the New International Version but more idiomatic than the New American Standard Bible.
Here are some words from John Piper:
The English Standard Version (ESV)
My aim tonight is to help you be persuaded that exposing millions of people (pastors, teachers, students, laypeople) to the ESV would undo the dominance of the NIV and put in its place a more literal, and yet a beautifully readable, memorizable Bible-the English Standard Version. And this would be a good thing.
In the following examples of NIV paraphrasing compared to the more literal ESV there are four convictions at stake.
1. A more literal translation respects the original author's way of writing. It is a way of honoring the inspired writers.
2. Translators are fallible and they may mislead the English reader if they use unnecessary paraphrases to bring out one possible meaning and conceal others.
3. A more literal translation gives preachers more confidence that they can preach what the English text says with authority that it reflects what the original Greek or Hebrew text says.
4. A more literal translation which preserves ambiguities that are really there in the original keeps open the possibility of new insight by future Bible readers.
I do not claim that the ESV is without its own level of "paraphrasing." Some will always be necessary. And there will always be disagreements about how much is necessary. I am simply arguing that the ESV is the best balance available of readability and literalness. I hope that it becomes the standard for the church.

Here are some words from Lighthouse Trails:
Something to Think About: ESV, "A Dream Come True"?
Note: Before reading the following article on the popular Bible translation, ESV, you may find an article written by "More Books and Things" quite insightful and relevant to the article below: 'Me' Bible Versions Also, regardless of which Bible version you personally read, we believe Art K.'s article is a worthwhile document, given the fact that the ESV is being classified as a version very similar to the KJV.

The English Standard Version (ESV) Study Bible. "A Dream Come True"?

Written and compiled by Art K., in Ontario, Canada

Introduction to a Study on The English Standard Version

First, why I compared the KJV to the ESV is because the ESV study Bible has received such high praise for being an excellent literal translation.

Second, in the Preface under "Translation Legacy" page 19, we read "The English Standard Version (ESV) stands in the classic mainstream of English Bible translations over the past half-millennium. The fountainhead of that stream was William Tyndale's New Testament of 1526; marking the course were King James Version of 1611..." I understood this to mean that there would be a great similarity between the KJV and the ESV. What I found however, is that the ESV, is, in the majority of the references, very similar or the same as the NIV. This I find difficult to reconcile with the statement made in reference to the KJV.

Third, what motivated me to further compare the ESV to the KJV, was the very high praise that the ESV has received from so many people who are well versed in the field of bible translations. For example, John Piper calls it "a dream come true"? Please see

Fourth, what motivated me to examine the ESV Study Bible was what I read in the Introduction under the subtitle "Divine Words and Merely Human Words," where it is written "The ESV Study Bible contains two kinds of words. The first kind is the actual of the Bible, which are the very words of God to us. These are printed in the larger font of each page. The second kind is the study notes, which are merely human words" page 9.

The problem is knowing which group of words to trust. The first group of words "the very words of God to us" in the ESV have so many omissions compared to the KJV that it creates serious doubt, not trust. If there are so many omissions in "the very words of God" in the ESV, how can we have confidence in the "words of men," in the explanation?

Before we accept this translation as "a dream come true," we need to examine the ESV bible carefully and ponder the words of Jesus, "And Jesus answered and said unto them, 'Take heed that no man deceive you.'" Mt. 24:4 Click here to read this entire document.

Bob's Response and my opinion after years of studying:

It's sad how many ministers in this area are using the Message Bible. I do not want to sit under them knowing that the Message Bible was written by a very well known New-Ager. When will the compromise in the American Church end? Oh well, that is another subject.
I think I will personally stay with the KJV and NKJV, use hermeneutics, expound exegetically, and use either the Strong's or Young's Hebrew and Greek Concordances for the original languages.

I don't believe the KJV is a perfect English translation either nor do I believe it is a total literal translation either although it is considered one and about as close as you can get to the original writings. It is said that some of it was translated from the Geneva Bible and not just from the original writings but I still think it is one of the best for our use.
This is what I would personally recommend to people after what you just emailed me and after what I have read from both sides of the coin.

Literal Bibles (closest to the original languages)
   KJV (King James Version)
   NKJV (New Kings James Version)
   NAS (New American Standard)

Literal-Dynamic Equivalent Bibles (easier to read and holds most of the integrity of the original languages but allows some contextual paraphrasing)
   ESV (English Standard Version)

(I just coined this phrase as a new type of Bible Translation Method after reading what Jon Piper and Lighthouse Trails have said about it; it seems to be not quite as good as the literal translations such as the KJV and the NKJV but being a MORE literal translation would be better than reading the NIV. It seems to be easier to read than the KJV and NKJV which would be its only advantage but it would not be one that I would recommend to one that is wanting to be a serious studier of the Bible and a teacher of the Bible)

Dynamic Equivalent Bibles (not really a paraphrase Bible but is more of a contextual paraphrasing)
   NIV (New International Version)

Paraphrase Bibles (too much of the author's opinions therefore losing a lot of integrity and purity of the scriptures)
   NLT (New Living Translation)
   TLB (The Living Bible)

New Age Bibles (Satan-inspired; this version is loaded  with new age philosophy and new age terms are interjected within this Bible; much integrity is lost; this version totally takes away from God's Word and sometimes even gives a verse a totally different meaning; other then reading this to a 3 to 5 year old to familiarize them with the stories, I would not recommend this Bible to my enemy; I would say to stick with a paraphrase Bible for a real young child for the purpose of only familiarizing them with the Bible stories but then to teach them how to use a literal translation and other Bible helps to really understand what is being taught in the scriptures; many youth pastors have been given these Bibles for free and are teaching from them)
   TMB (The Message Bible)

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