|English Standard Version|
|Full name:||English Standard Version|
|Complete Bible published:||2001 (revisions in 2007 and 2011)|
|Derived from:||RSV—1971 Revision|
Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia with Septuagint influence.
Deutero./Apoc.: Göttingen Septuagint, Rahlf's Septuagint and Stuttgart Vulgate.
NT: 83% correspondence to Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 27th edition.[note 1]
|Translation type:||Formal Equivalence|
|Version revised:||2007, 2011|
|Copyright status:||Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a ministry of the Good News Publishers of Wheaton, IL
|The Bible in English|
The English Standard Version (ESV) is an English translation of the Christian Bible. It is a revision of the 1971 edition of the Revised Standard Version. The first edition was published in 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
The stated intent of the translators was to produce a readable and accurate translation that stands in the tradition of 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 (1881–85), the American Standard Version (1901), the Revised Standard Version (1946–71) and the New American Standard version. In their own words, they sought to follow an "essentially literal" translation philosophy while taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages.
Work on this translation was prompted by a need for a new literal translation in the early 1990s. The Revised Standard Version (RSV), and the Revised English Bible, rendered virtually all passages given a Messianic interpretation by Christians in a manner such as to preclude such an interpretation, even when "conjectural emendations" and alterations of the text had to be made in order to do it.[note 2] The few traditional translations that upheld historic Christian exegesis in this time were either based on outdated manuscripts (the New King James Version) or judged to have overly-wooden English (the New American Standard Bible). The New International Version was judged to be too periphrastic for use in detailed study. Additionally, some believe that a theory of plenary verbal inspiration is lessened by or incompatible with dynamic, "thought-for-thought" translations.
Under Reformed theologian J.I. Packer, who served as general editor, the translation committee was formed, and 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. About 6–7% of the RSV text (for comparison, the entire New Testament is about 20% of the Bible) was changed in the ESV.
Many emendations and restorations of certain renderings were made to satisfy Christians who viewed many of the theologically liberal renderings in the RSV and similar translations as objectionable or heterodox in their abandonment of historical Christian, especially Protestant, interpretation and exegesis, along with the objections of translators who found them inadequate: these changes, incorporated in to subsequent versions such as the NRSV as well, were interpreted as implicitly denying prophecy of Christ throughout the Old Testament.[note 2]
This was seen in passages such as a short and incomplete listing is provided here:
The ESV restored the majority of these traditional renderings, for example, the translation of the Hebrew almah (maiden) in Isaiah 7:14 from "young woman" (RSV, NRSV, REB, NAB) to the traditional rendering of "virgin" (ESV, NASB, NIV, supported by LXX, VG).
The language was modernized to remove archaic pronouns ("thee", "thou") and their corresponding verbs ("didst", "speaketh") which the RSV had maintained in passages the translators considered to refer to God (which proponents of historical Christian interpretation also objected to, as archaic verbiage was not retained when addressing Christ, which was interpreted as an implicit denial of Christ's divinity; also, breaking with tradition, the RSV did not capitalize passages of the Old Testament that have been traditionally interpreted as prophecies of Christ), to remove obsolete words (e.g., "jug" for "cruse"), and to introduce a moderate amount of horizontal gender-neutral language.
The ESV underwent a minor revision in 2007. The publisher chose not to identify the updated text as a second or revised edition; it was intended to replace the original ESV under the original name. A second revised edition which changed about 500 words (the most notable being changing "wounded for our transgressions" to "pierced for our transgressions" in Isaiah 53:5, matching the NASB rendering) was issued in April 2011: the 2007 edition has been gradually phased out in its favor.
An edition of the ESV with the Biblical apocrypha—the books of the Protestant apocrypha, called the deuterocanonical books or anagignoskomena of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Old Testaments, respectively, not to be confused with those books called "apocrypha" by Catholics and Orthodox, such as 1 Enoch, 4 Esdras, the Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah, etc., often called "pseudepigrapha" by Protestants—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 these books are 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. The ESV version of these books is based on a revision of the Revised Standard Version 1977 Expanded Edition ("expanded" taken to mean it includes those books considered canonical by neither Catholics, Orthodox, nor Protestants, such as 4 Esdras and 4 Maccabees, but are nonetheless historically included in major manuscripts of the Vulgate and Septuagint). In the edition including these books, they are printed after the New Testament (like the Revised Standard Version Expanded Edition) and are arranged in the order of the RSV and NRSV Common Bibles (those Bibles which have the full canons of Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism arranged in such a way that they can be used "in common").
The ESV is based on the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible as found in the second edition of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (1983), and on the Greek text in the United Bible Societies' fourth corrected edition of the Greek New Testament (1993), and the twenty-seventh edition of Novum Testamentum Graece, edited by Nestle and Aland (also 1993). In exceptional, difficult cases, the translation committee consulted the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Syriac Peshitta, the Latin Vulgate, and other sources in order to shed possible light on the text or, if necessary, to support a divergence from the Masoretic text. Similarly, in a few difficult cases in the New Testament, the ESV has followed a Greek text different from the text given preference in the UBS/Nestle-Aland 27th edition.
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 (the Ancient Greek of which has not survived), which used the German Bible Society's 1983 edition Vulgate.
Mark L. Strauss, Professor of the New Testament at Bethel Seminary, San Diego, has defended gender-inclusive language in Bible translations like the Today's New International Version (TNIV), New Living Translation (NLT) and NRSV, and is a member of the NIV Committee on Bible Translation. 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 contrived for marketing purposes. 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.
Strauss has also criticized the ESV for what he calls "Biblish", which, he says, "is produced when the translator tries to reproduce the form of the Greek or Hebrew without due consideration for how people actually speak", and considers the ESV, like other formal-equivalent versions, to be "a good supplement" to dynamic or periphrastic versions, but "unsuited as a standard Bible for the Church" or for main use. He goes on to state, “This is because the ESV too often fails the test of 'standard English'”. This weakness that Strauss identifies is considered a strength of the ESV and other literal translations by proponents of that methodology, emphasizing that it reminds readers of the Bible's strangeness, coming from a world thousands of years gone, by not fitting it to grade-school English — when the texts themselves are not always grammatical — and modern Western sociocultural sensibilities, such as feminism and the pursuant gender-neutral debate; and that it also allows for more transparency to the source texts, requiring less interpretation on the part of translators, with the goal of leaving as much semantic vagueness as the original texts possess visible to the reader in translation, not arbitrarily closing off exegetical choices to the reader at the level of translation.
There have been attempts to formulate lists of translation issues in the ESV. Bible translator and linguist Wayne Leman has compiled a list of what he considers to be translation problems in the ESV. Meanwhile, at the 2008 gathering of the Evangelical Theological Society, Strauss presented a paper entitled "Why the English Standard Version (ESV) Should Not Become the Standard English Version: How to Make a Good Translation Much Better" in which he detailed his view of the most common "translation errors" of the ESV. He states in the opening,
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 D. Mounce, the New Testament Editor of the ESV, responded briefly to Strauss on the Koinonia blog owned by Zondervan:
[Strauss] 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.
Two previously existing study Bibles published previously or concurrently in other translations have now been published in ESV editions. The Scofield Study Bible III, an update and revision of the classic dispensational premillennialist Scofield Reference Bible, which was originally published using the King James Version as the base text, was published in an edition using the ESV as its base text in 2001.
The Reformation Study Bible, a Reformed Protestant (Calvinist) study Bible, edited by R.C. Sproul, originally appeared in the 1990s in the New King James Version (NKJV), published by Thomas Nelson (the holder of the NKJV copyright). It is now published using the ESV as its base text, with notes adapted and expanded from the original NKJV Reformation Study Bible.
In 2007, the ESV Literary Study Bible—with extensive introductions and essays alongside brief annotation (focusing on the Bible as literature) written by professor of English literature Leland Ryken of Wheaton College and his son, Presbyterian pastor and theologian Philip Ryken—was published by Crossway Bibles, the publisher of the ESV. The Literary Study Bible was typeset as a normal book—in single-column, single-paragraph, with no cross-references, in-text chapter or verse numbers, or topical headings—in order to achieve this focus on the Bible as literature, in contrast to the common "reference book" or "dictionary"-type settings of most Bibles, especially older ones (typeset with one verse per paragraph, double column, center column references, intrusive chapter and verse numbers at the beginning of each verse-paragraph). The rare Confraternity Bible and the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible are typeset in similar fashion.
In 2008, the ESV Study Bible was published, under the general editorship of Wayne Grudem and theological editorship of noted Calvinist theologian J.I. Packer. Reported initial sales of this edition were high. Crossway, as quoted in The Christian Post, stated, "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." A representative of online Christian book retailer Westminster Books said that it was "by far the fastest selling new product in the history of our store." The ESV Study Bible has received extremely high praise for its quality of presentation, formatting, and supplemental materials, with the few negative reviews being of those who disagree with the interdenominational nature or certain doctrinal positions presented in some of the annotation.
In 2010, the MacArthur Study Bible, a Bible annotated by Calvinist dispensationalist premillennialist theologian John MacArthur, previously published in NKJV and NASB editions, was published in an edition using the ESV as its base text. An ESV edition of the Ryrie Study Bible, a Bible with annotation by Charles Ryrie (another dispensationalist premillennialist theologian) followed in 2011.
The publishing branch of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS), Concordia Publishing House, released The Lutheran Study Bible, using the ESV text, in 2009. An annotated edition of the ESV Apocrypha, The Apocrypha: The Lutheran Study Edition with Notes, is planned to be published in the fall of 2012.
The LCMS 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 the Lutheran Service Book. LCMS' publishing arm, Concordia, is using the English Standard Version as its base translation for all of its publications.
In a surprising move (as the ESV has had no Catholic input), the International Committee for the Preparation of an English-language Lectionary (ICPEL), which determines the form of the English-language Roman Catholic lectionary used in England and Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Australia, insofar as it conforms to Vatican directives such as Liturgiam authenticam, selected the ESV for use as the base text in preparing a new Lectionary for the English-speaking Catholics in only those countries in late 2011, along with the Revised Grail Psalter. This was undertaken after the copyright holder to the NRSV, the liberal National Council of Churches, would not permit the modifications necessary to the NRSV—namely, a removal of gender-neutered language and a restoration of traditional Christian renderings and Messianic prophecy in key areas—in order for the text to be considered acceptable for use in the Catholic lectionary.
The ESV lectionary is set to replace the current English, Welsh, Irish, and Australian lectionaries, and to eventually replace Canada's "provisionally approved" NRSV lectionary (which has had its "provisional approval" renewed for almost twenty years) and the United States of America's lectionary[dubious ] drawn from the New American Bible lectionary—a translation which has drawn a wide range of criticism and little praise for wooden English and lack of style, non-traditional renderings, heterodox annotations, gender-neutral language, and systematic removal of Messianic prophecy, to the point where the 1991 NAB Psalms were condemned by the Vatican. The Anglican Ordinariate currently uses a lectionary based on the RSV—Second Catholic Edition; however, the publisher of these lectionaries, Ignatius Press, has discontinued and remaindered them, so it is unknown what the fate of the Ordinariate's lectionary will be.
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