September 4, 2008
Re: ESV (English Standard Version)
If a person does any serious browsing looking for different Bible 'translations', one discovers that there are 'b/zillions' of English versions out there. There are the dozen-or-so primary popular ones sold at the "Bible" book stores; but then there are all the other ones done by every Tom, Dick and Harry that most people don't know about; some might be good, but others I've seen and they are not. In fact, those who rely on fame and BIG NAMES, assuming that a "society" attached to a label makes it authentic, also look down their noses at humble offerings like VW's "VW-edition".
As the various versions appear, periodically a subscriber will ask me if I know anything about X, Y or Z version they just discovered. They read the claims, and wonder if those claims are true. Over the past couple of years another has made a splash, and I've been asked about it a couple of times. It seems that enough time has now gone by, and the ESV is taking hold and becoming a version of note out there. When I visit other sites, I am also typically seeing a lot of links to the ESV. Is it becoming on a par with the NIV?
Thus, it is finally time to make a public observation to warn against it
Reading ESV's own description at their website, they claim it is an "essentially literal" translation. That they translated "word-for-word", rather than "thought-for-thought". Thus, it is claimed to be more accurate to the texts, not tainted by translator personal bias. So far, so good.
They claim that the words and phrases come "from the Tyndale-King James legacy, and most recently out of the RSV" with the text of the 1971 RSV being its "starting point".
The OT comes from the Masoretic texts, but the NT comes from all the various texts, collectively often referred to as the Westcott-Hort, or "critical texts". Around here I also refer to those as being from Alexandria (not Antioch). When they had "difficult cases" to research, they also consulted the various questionable and suspect texts such as Dead Sea Scrolls, Septuagint, Latin Vulgate. In other words, it comes from the same bunch of texts that the NIV and other modern perversions come from.
However, they also spin a bunch of words, claiming ties to the KJV tradition in terms of literary excellence and beauty. But they do this also within the context of the ASV, NASB, RSV...as though all these works are from the same source. An unwary person might read their words and simply assume the ESV is an 'update' to the KJV. So they might easily conclude: if the KJV is approved, then the ESV is also.
Therein is its deception. The ESV and KJV are -not- from the same texts. When I was younger, not knowing any better, and relying on the scholars and 'experts', I also wasted 20 years of my life wallowing around in the NASB because of the same subterfuge. I didn't yet realize there was such a thing as a difference between Alexandria and Antioch. The 'experts' just said the newer versions came from "older manuscripts"...thus presumed to be closer to the 'source', and thus "more accurate". And in my innocence... that's what I wanted... "accuracy".
They readily claim and admit that the ESV is -based- in the RSV. The RSV was one of the first readily accepted perversions of the Neo-orthodoxy, Modernist, National/World Council of Churches "God-is-dead" crowd.
So, rather than waste a lot of unnecessary time stabbing in the dark forging new territory, with its self-proclaimed credentials in the "critical" texts, I used a comparison I did a few years ago between references to NU (verifying with NASB) and the NKJV with selected passages in Acts and Romans, which also compares similarly to the NIV. (At the time of that comparison the VW-edition wasn't yet conceived or implemented, and I was using the NKJV) With a few little minor variations, the ESV tracks nearly identically with the NASB & NIV in terms of its errors, due to its source from the Critical texts, rather than the Received texts. Everything in that article that is wrong with the NIV, is also wrong with the ESV. They come from the same source. [link]
Thus, let's keep this short and simple, shall we. In this case there is no need to rant and rave. The ESV fits into the same category as a "Perversion", along with the NASB, NIV, RSV, Living, Message, etc. It may -contain- some of God's Word, as the NASB, NIV and RSV -contain- God's Word. But it -is- NOT (cover-to-cover) God's Word.
It is not of the KJV "legacy" (as claimed). It is from the "God is dead" liberal RSV legacy. It is the same old wolf in a slightly updated fleece.
It is NOT recommended!