English Standard Version
The English Standard Version (ESV) is an English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. Whereas interpreting undoubtedly antedates writing, translation began only after the appearance of written literature; there exist partial translations of the Sumerian Epic of...

 of the Christian Bible. It is a revision of the 1971 edition of the Revised Standard Version
Revised Standard Version
The Revised Standard Version is an English translation of the Bible published in the mid-20th century. It traces its history to William Tyndale's New Testament translation of 1525. The RSV is an authorized revision of the American Standard Version of 1901...

. The first edition was published in 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers
Good News Publishers
Good News Publishers is a not-for-profit Christian ministry that publishes and distributes gospel tracts. Good News Publishers is the parent company of Crossway Books, a publisher of evangelical Christian books. Good News/Crossway is headquartered in Wheaton, Illinois...


Translation philosophy

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
William Tyndale
William Tyndale was an English scholar and translator who became a leading figure in Protestant reformism towards the end of his life. He was influenced by the work of Desiderius Erasmus, who made the Greek New Testament available in Europe, and by Martin Luther...

 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
Revised Version
The Revised Version of the Bible is a late 19th-century British revision of the King James Version of 1611. It was the first and remains the only officially authorized and recognized revision of the King James Bible. The work was entrusted to over 50 scholars from various denominations in Britain...

 (1881–85), the American Standard Version
American Standard Version
The Revised Version, Standard American Edition of the Bible, more commonly known as the American Standard Version , is a version of the Bible that was released in 1901...

 (1901), and the Revised Standard Version
Revised Standard Version
The Revised Standard Version is an English translation of the Bible published in the mid-20th century. It traces its history to William Tyndale's New Testament translation of 1525. The RSV is an authorized revision of the American Standard Version of 1901...

 (1946–1971). 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
In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics,...

, syntax
In linguistics, syntax is the study of the principles and rules for constructing phrases and sentences in natural languages....

, and idiom
Idiom is an expression, word, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is comprehended in regard to a common use of that expression that is separate from the literal meaning or definition of the words of which it is made...

 between current literary English and the original languages. The result is a translation that is more literal
Dynamic and formal equivalence
In Bible translation dynamic equivalence and formal equivalence are two approaches to translation. The terms are not found in general linguistics or translation theory but were coined by Eugene Nida...

 than the popular New International Version
New International Version
The New International Version is an English translation of the Christian Bible. Published by Zondervan in the United States and by Hodder & Stoughton in the UK, it has become one of the most popular modern translations in history.-History:...

, but more idiomatic than the New American Standard Bible
New American Standard Bible
The New American Standard Bible , also informally called New American Standard Version , is an English translation of the 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 translation committee sought and received permission from the National Council of Churches
National Council of Churches
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA is an ecumenical partnership of 37 Christian faith groups in the United States. Its member denominations, churches, conventions, and archdioceses include Mainline Protestant, Orthodox, African American, Evangelical, and historic peace...

 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 emendations were made to satisfy the objections of conservative Protestants had considered the RSV to be theologically liberal, for example, changing the translation of the Hebrew almah from "young woman" (used in the RSV) to "virgin" (in the ESV) in Isaiah 7:14
Isaiah 7:14
Isaiah 7:14 is a verse of the Book of Isaiah in which the prophet Isaiah, addressing king Ahaz of Judah , promises the king a sign that his oracle is a true one...

. The language was modernized to remove "thou" and "thee" and replace obsolete words (e.g., "jug" for "cruse").

2007 and 2011 revisions

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 third revised edition was issued in April 2011 and has gradually been phasing out the 2007 edition.

ESV Apocrypha

An edition of the ESV with the Apocrypha
Biblical apocrypha
The word "apocrypha" is today often used to refer to the collection of ancient books printed in some editions of the Bible in a separate section between the Old and New Testaments...

 (featuring books from the Protestant Apocrypha, and the deuterocanonical books of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

) was developed by Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the Vice-Chancellor known as the Delegates of the Press. They are headed by the Secretary to the Delegates, who serves as...

 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
Divinity and divine are broadly applied but loosely defined terms, used variously within different faiths and belief systems — and even by different individuals within a given faith — to refer to some transcendent or transcendental power or deity, or its attributes or manifestations in...

 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.

Textual basis

The ESV is based on the Masoretic text
Masoretic Text
The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible and is regarded as Judaism's official version of the Tanakh. While the Masoretic Text defines the books of the Jewish canon, it also defines the precise letter-text of these biblical books, with their vocalization and...

 of the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 as found in the second edition of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia
Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia
The Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, or ', is an edition of the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible as preserved in the Leningrad Codex, and supplemented by masoretic and text-critical notes...

(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
Novum Testamentum Graece
Novum Testamentum Graece is the Latin name editions of the original Greek-language version of the New Testament.The first printed edition was the Complutensian Polyglot Bible by Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, printed in 1514, but not published until 1520...

, edited by Nestle and Aland (also 1993). In exceptional, difficult cases, the translation committee consulted the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

, the Septuagint, the Samaritan Pentateuch
Samaritan Pentateuch
The Samaritan Pentateuch, sometimes called Samaritan Torah, , is a version of the Hebrew language Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, used by the Samaritans....

, the Syriac
Syriac language
Syriac is a dialect of Middle Aramaic that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. Having first appeared as a script in the 1st century AD after being spoken as an unwritten language for five centuries, Classical Syriac became a major literary language throughout the Middle East from...

The Peshitta is the standard version of the Bible for churches in the Syriac tradition.The Old Testament of the Peshitta was translated into Syriac from the Hebrew, probably in the 2nd century AD...

, the Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

, 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.

Criticism and controversy

Mark L. Strauss
Mark L. Strauss
Mark L. Strauss is an American Biblical scholar and professor of the New Testament at Bethel Seminary San Diego, of Bethel University.-Background and education:...

 has defended gender-inclusive language in Bible translations like the TNIV, NLT
New Living Translation
The New Living Translation is a translation of the Bible into modern English. Originally starting out as an effort to revise The Living Bible, the project evolved into a new English translation from Hebrew and Greek texts...

 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 marketing contrived. ESV translator Wayne Grudem
Wayne Grudem
Wayne A. Grudem is a Protestant theologian and author. He was born in 1948 in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin and married Margaret White on June 6, 1969 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin...

 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
Evangelical Theological Society
The Evangelical Theological Society is a professional society of Biblical scholars, educators, pastors, and students with the stated purpose of serving Jesus and his church by advancing evangelical scholarship. It was established in 1949 in Cincinnati. The number of members in 2005 was over 4,200...

, Mark L. Strauss
Mark L. Strauss
Mark L. Strauss is an American Biblical scholar and professor of the New Testament at Bethel Seminary San Diego, of Bethel University.-Background and education:...

 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 D. Mounce
William D. Mounce
William D. Mounce is a scholar of New Testament Greek.William Mounce is son of Robert H. Mounce, , and learnt Greek while young from his father...

, 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.


Two previously existing Study Bible
Study Bible
A study Bible is an edition of the Bible prepared for the use of a serious student of the Bible. It provides scholarly information designed to help the reader gain a better understanding of the text.-History:...

 publications previously or concurrently appearing in other translations have now been published in ESV editions. The Scofield Study Bible III, an update and revision of the classic Dispensationalist Scofield Reference Bible
Scofield Reference Bible
The Scofield Reference Bible is a widely circulated study Bible edited and annotated by the American Bible student Cyrus I. Scofield, that popularized dispensationalism at the beginning of the 20th century...

which was originally created using the King James Version, but which has appeared in multiple translations over its century of publication. The Reformation Study Bible
Reformation Study Bible
The Reformation Study Bible is a series of study Bibles published and distributed by Ligonier Ministries. The most recent version to have been published is the English Standard Version. As with its predecessors, the RSB remains under the supervision of R. C...

a Reformed Protestant study bible edited by R.C. Sproul, originally appeared in the 1990s in the New King James Version
New King James Version
The New King James Version is a modern translation of the Bible published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. The New Testament was published in 1979. The Psalms in 1980. The full Bible was published in 1982. It took a total of 7 years to complete...

 and was published by Thomas Nelson
Thomas Nelson (publisher)
Thomas Nelson is a publishing firm that began in Scotland in 1798 as the namesake of its founder. Its former US division is currently the sixth largest American trade publisher and the world's largest Christian publisher. It is owned by the private equity firm Kohlberg & Company...

. The notes were adapted from that previous edition, with the new ESV edition being published by P & R Publishing.

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
Leland Ryken
Leland Ryken, is a professor of English at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. He has contributed a number of works to the study of classic literature from the Christian perspective, including editing the comprehensive volume on Christian writing on literature The Christian Imagination...

 of Wheaton College and his son, Presbyterian pastor and theologian Philip Ryken
Philip Ryken
Philip Graham Ryken is president of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. Dr. Ryken was inaugurated on Friday, September 17, 2010 at Edman Chapel.-Education:...


The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod is a traditional, confessional Lutheran denomination in the United States. With 2.3 million members, it is both the eighth largest Protestant denomination and the second-largest Lutheran body in the U.S. after the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The Synod...

 has adopted the ESV as the official text used in its official hymnal Lutheran Service Book
Lutheran Service Book
Lutheran Service Book is the newest official hymnal of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and the Lutheran Church–Canada . It was prepared by the LCMS Commission on Worship and published by Concordia Publishing House, the official publisher of the LCMS...

, released in August 2006. It is in use in the church's three and one year lectionaries released with "Lutheran Service Book
Lutheran Service Book
Lutheran Service Book is the newest official hymnal of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and the Lutheran Church–Canada . It was prepared by the LCMS Commission on Worship and published by Concordia Publishing House, the official publisher of the LCMS...

." The official publishing arm of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, Concordia Publishing House
Concordia Publishing House
Concordia Publishing House , founded in 1869, is the official publishing arm of The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. Headquartered in St Louis, Missouri at 3558 S. Jefferson St. Louis, MO, CPH publishes the Synod's official magazine, The Lutheran Witness and the Synod's hymnals, including...

, is using the English Standard Version as its translation of choice in all its published materials. Concordia Publishing House, the publishing arm of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, released The Lutheran Study Bible in October 2009, which also uses the ESV. A study version of the ESV Apocrypha
The term apocrypha is used with various meanings, including "hidden", "esoteric", "spurious", "of questionable authenticity", ancient Chinese "revealed texts and objects" and "Christian texts that are not canonical"....

 is planned to be released in the fall of 2012.

The ESV Study Bible was released by Crossway Bibles in October 2008. The general editor is Wayne Grudem
Wayne Grudem
Wayne A. Grudem is a Protestant theologian and author. He was born in 1948 in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin and married Margaret White on June 6, 1969 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin...

, 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."

The MacArthur Study Bible
MacArthur Study Bible
The MacArthur Study Bible, first issued in 1997 by Word Publishing , is a study Bible edited by evangelical Bible expositor John F. MacArthur with introductions and notes pertaining to verses in all the books of the Bible...

 has been made available in ESV in 2010. An ESV edition of the popular Ryrie Study Bible was published in 2011.

External links

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