English Standard Version

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English Bible Versions

The English Standard Version (ESV) is an English translation of the Bible. It is a revision of the 1971 edition of the Revised Standard Version[1]. The first edition was published in 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

The ESV Study Bible, also published by Crossway Bibles, was published in October 2008. It uses the ESV translation and adds extensive notes and articles based on evangelical Christian scholarship.


Translation philosophy

The stated intent of the translators was to produce a readable and accurate translation that stands in the tradition of Bible translations beginning with English religious reformer William Tyndale in 1525–26 and culminating in the King James Version of 1611. Examples of other translations that stand in this stream are the Revised Version (188185), the American Standard Version (1901), and the Revised Standard Version (19461971). In their own words, they sought to follow a literal translation philosophy. To that end, they sought as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer, while taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages. The result is a translation that is more literal than the popular New International Version, but more idiomatic than the New American Standard Bible.


Work on this translation began over the perceived looseness of style and content of recently published English Bible translations. Under noted theologian J.I. Packer who served as general editor the group sought and received permission from the National Council of Churches to use the 1971 edition of the RSV as the English textual basis for the ESV. Nevertheless, only about 5%–10% of the RSV text was changed in the ESV. Many corrections were made to satisfy objections to some of the RSV's interpretations that conservative Protestants had considered as theologically liberal, for example, changing the translation of the Hebrew "almah" from "young woman" to "virgin" in Isaiah 7:14. The language was modernized to remove "thou" and "thee" and replace obsolete words (e.g., "jug" for "cruse").

The ESV underwent a minor revision in 2007.[] The publisher has chosen not to identify the updated text as a second or revised edition; it is intended to replace the original ESV under the original name.[] At present, both revisions coexist on the market.

An edition of the ESV with Apocrypha (featuring books from the Protestant Apocrypha, and the deuterocanonical books of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Old Testament) was developed by Oxford University Press and published in January, 2009.[] The publisher cites the fact that the ESV "has been growing in popularity among students in biblical studies, mainline Christian scholars and clergy, and Evangelical Christians of all denominations." Thus, they deemed, "Along with that growth comes the need for the books of the Apocrypha to be included in ESV Bibles, both for denominations that use those books in liturgical readings and for students who need them for historical purposes." The publisher's hope for this new edition with Apocrypha is that it will be used widely in seminaries and divinity schools where the Apocrypha is used in academic study.[] The team translating the Apocrypha includes Bernard A. Taylor, David A. deSilva, and Dan McCartney, under the editorship of David Aiken.[]

There are also anglicized editions of the ESV available from HarperCollins UK, which modify the text slightly for consistency with British spelling and grammar.

Textual basis

When necessary to translate difficult passages, the translators referred to the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible (as found in the second edition of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia), to the United Bible Societies' fourth edition of the Greek New Testament, and to the twenty-seventh edition of Nestle and Aland's Novum Testamentum Graece. In a few exceptionally difficult cases, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Syriac Peshitta, the Latin Vulgate, and other sources were consulted to shed possible light on the text or, if necessary, to support a divergence from the Masoretic text.

For the Apocrypha, the Oxford translating team relied on the Göttingen Septuagint for all of the Apocrypha except 4 Maccabees (relying there on Rahlf's Septuagint) and 2 Esdras, which used the German Bible Society's 1983 edition Vulgate.[]

Criticism and controversy

Dr Mark L. Strauss has defended gender-inclusive language in Bible translations like the TNIV, NLT and NRSV, and is a member of the TNIV Committee on Bible Translations[]. Strauss argues that the ESV uses similar gender-inclusive language, and wrote, “What is odd and ironic is that some of the strongest attacks against the gender language of the TNIV are coming from those who produced similar gender changes in the ESV”.[] Strauss has also suggested that criticism against competing Bible translations to the ESV is marketing contrived.[] ESV translator Wayne Grudem has responded that, while on occasion the ESV translates "person" or "one" where previous translations used "man", it keeps gender specific language where that is in the original, so it does not go as far as gender inclusive translations such as the TNIV and NRSV;[] and the ESV web site makes a similar statement[].

There have been attempts to formulate lists of translation issues in the ESV. Bible translator and linguist Wayne Leman has compiled a list of translation problems in the ESV.[] Meanwhile, at the 2008 gathering of the Evangelical Theological Society, Mark L. Strauss presented a paper entitled "Why the English Standard Version (ESV) Should Not Become the Standard English Version"[] in which he detailed the most common translation errors (in his view) of the ESV. He states in the opening,

I am writing this article, however, because I have heard a number of Christian leaders claim that the ESV is the “Bible of the future”—ideal for public worship and private reading, appropriate for adults, youth and children. This puzzles me, since the ESV seems to me to be overly literal—full of archaisms, awkward language, obscure idioms, irregular word order, and a great deal of “Biblish.” Biblish is produced when the translator tries to reproduce the form of the Greek or Hebrew without due consideration for how people actually write or speak. The ESV, like other formal equivalent versions (RSV; NASB; NKJV; NRSV), is a good supplement to versions that use normal English, but is not suitable as a standard Bible for the church. This is because the ESV too often fails the test of “standard English.”

William Mounce, the New Testament Editor of the ESV, responded briefly to Strauss on the Koinonia blog owned by Zondervan:

While the content of the paper was helpful, I am afraid that it only increased the gap between the two "sides" of the debate. There has been a lot of hurt and damage done toward people on both sides of this debate (e.g., someone shot a bullet through a TNIV and mailed it to the publisher), and I got the feeling that Mark was getting tired of being attacked. I would be tired if I were in his shoes. He kept saying that the ESV has "missed" or "not considered" certain translational issues. While I am sure they were not intentional, these are emotionally charged words that do not help in the debate. They are in essence ad hominem arguments focusing on our competence (or perceived lack thereof) and not on the facts. He was not in the translation meetings and does not know if we in fact did miss or did not consider these issues. Time and time again Mark said that if we made a change, then we would have gotten it "right." This, of course, is not a helpful way to argue because it implies there is only one "right" way to translate a verse. His solution appeared to be that we should adopt a more dynamic view of translation, and then we would have gotten it right. The solution to this debate is to recognize that there are different translation philosophies, different goals and means by which to reach those goals, and the goal of the translator is to be consistent in achieving those goals. In all but one of his examples, our translation was the one required by our translation philosophy.[]

Use of the ESV

Two previously existing study bible editions of other translations have been adapted to use the ESV text: the Scofield Study Bible III,[] an update and revision of the Scofield Reference Bible, and the Reformation Study Bible, edited by R.C. Sproul, which adapted the notes from the previous edition that used the New King James Version. The ESV edition was published by P & R Publishing, while the original New King James Version edition was published by Thomas Nelson (publisher).

In 2007, Crossway Bibles published the Literary Study Bible based on the ESV, with notes on the literary elements of Scripture by literary scholar Leland Ryken of Wheaton College and his son, Presbyterian pastor and theologian Philip Ryken.[]

The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod has adopted the ESV as the official text used in its official hymnal Lutheran Service Book, released in August 2006. It is in use in the church's three and one year lectionaries released with "Lutheran Service Book." The official publishing arm of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, Concordia Publishing House, is using the English Standard Version as its translation of choice in all its published materials. Concordia Publishing House is releasing The Lutheran Study Bible in October 2009, which will use the ESV translation.

The ESV Study Bible was released by Crossway Bibles in October 2008. The general editor is Wayne Grudem, and features ESV editor J.I. Packer as theological editor[]. Initial sales of this study bible have been high, with the publishers announcing, "With pre-publication demand surpassing the first 100,000 printing, the ESV Study Bible has already gone back to press for a second printing of 50,000 copies, with a 50,000 third printing soon to follow." Online Christian book retailer Westminster Books has called the ESV Study Bible "by far the fastest selling new product in the history of our store."[]

Changes from the KJV

Isaiah 7:14

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (KJV)
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (ESV)

The Virgin Birth is attacked by the ESV in Isaiah 7:14 by replacing "virgin" with "young woman".

Isaiah 14:12

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!" (KJV)
How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!" (ESV)

The ESV gives Lucifer one of the names of the Lord Jesus Christ in Isaiah 14:12, which is "Day Star" (2 Peter 1:19).

Matthew 5:22

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (KJV)
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother (omit) will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire. (ESV)

In Matthew 5:22, the ESV makes Jesus Christ a sinner by removing the phrase "without a cause". Remember that Jesus Christ got angry in Mark 3:5. This is a contradiction and an accusation against the sinlessness of Jesus Christ. If Jesus was a sinner, then He is not a savoir.

Matthew 7:14

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (KJV)
For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (ESV)

The ESV perverts the simplicity of salvation in Matthew 7:14 by saying "the way is hard". There is nothing hard about being saved. Being saved is simply by realizing you are a sinner and trusting Jesus Christ (John 10:9, John 4:14).

Matthew 18:11

For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. KJV

See also a List of Bible verses not included in the ESV

Not only does the ESV take out 17 complete verses, it takes out over 33,000 words in just the New Testament alone.

Colossians 1:14

In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (KJV)
in whom we have redemption (omit), the forgiveness of sins. (ESV)

Through his blood is omitted.

Philippians 2:6

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (KJV)
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, (ESV)

The ESV denies the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 3:16

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." (KJV)
Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory." (ESV)

The ESV attacks the deity and incarnation of Jesus Christ by replacing "God" with "He".

1 John 4:3

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." (KJV)
and every spirit that does not confess Jesus (omit) is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already." (ESV)

The ESV takes out the words "is come in the flesh" proving itself to have the spirit of antichrist behind it.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (KJV)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only (omit) Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (ESV)

We know that there are many sons of God in scripture, such as Adam (Luke 3:38), the angels (Job 1:6) and Christians (Philippians 2:15). With that in mind, the ESV introduces confusion into John 3:16 by removing the word "begotten". See also Monogenes

Luke 11:2

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil." (KJV)
And he said to them, "When you pray, say: "Father, (omit) hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. (omit) 3 Give us each day our daily bread, 4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation." (ESV)

The Lord's Prayer is changed into the Devil's Prayer by removing the phrases "which art in heaven", "Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in the earth" and "deliver us from evil".

Luke 2:33

And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. (KJV)
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. (ESV)

In Luke 2:33 they are saying that Joseph was the father of Jesus.This is an attack upon the doctrine of the virgin birth.

2 Corinthians 2:17

For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. (KJV)
For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. (ESV)

While the ESV corrupts the word of God, it seems like they try their best to cover their tracts. In 2 Corinthians 2:17, they replace "corrupt the word of God" with "peddlers of God's word".

2 Timothy 2:15

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (KJV)
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (ESV)

The ESV takes out the word "study" in 2 Timothy 2:15 and replaces it with "Do your best". Not only do they do that, but they take out the words "rightly dividing" and replace it with "rightly handling". To understand the Bible one must know how to rightly divide it.

Luke 4:4

And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. (KJV)
And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone (omit). (ESV)

In Luke 4:4, the ESV takes out the phrase "but by every word of God". Note that the Lord Jesus Christ is quoting Deuteronomy 8:3.

Acts 2:47

Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. (KJV)
praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (ESV)

Hort attacked the doctrine of substitution and the ESV and new versions coming from the Westcott and Hort text, so salvation is not a one time finished thing, rather salvation is a process and is not complete. Notice in the below verses that the KJV says "saved", while the ESV says "being saved" as also the below verses reveal.

1 Corinthians 1:18

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (KJV)
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (ESV)

1 Corinthians 15:2

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (KJV)
and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. (ESV)

2 Corinthians 2:15

For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: (KJV)
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, (ESV)

Colossians 2:10

And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: (KJV)
and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. (ESV)

In Colossians 2:10, the ESV says that we are not "complete" in Christ, rather we are just "filled".

See Also


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