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Three Blog Reviews of the ESV

Three bloggers have independently blogged about the ESV over the past few days:

The Brainerd Baptist Church Blog writes:

In Bro. Darryl’s message yesterday morning, he mentioned utilizing a “readable Bible” in your quiet time. For me, that has become the English Standard Version (ESV). Although I know that there are MANY beneficial translations, my spiritual life has greatly benefited from the ESV. I have enjoyed reading it, studying from it, memorizing it, and preaching and teaching from it.

The Pastor Questions blog asks which Bible is “best;” i.e., which one should people use:

The answer varies in my view based on what you are doing. For example, if you are reading through the Bible, I would recommend a dynamic equivalence translation. If you are reading and studying the Bible, then a literal translation is best…. For general reading and Bible study the ESV is the best I have found.

E.M. Hamilton evaluated the ESV but ultimately decided to stick with his current translation. You should always do your homework when you’re considering switching Bible versions; it’s not a decision to take lightly.

I have noted that the ESV [English Standard Version] has been gaining a large following among the church of Christ, so I’ve been comparing it to the NIV and KJV [King James Version] (to see how it improves on readability from the KJV, and the word usage it uses compared to a more contemporary version like the NIV) on the website Bible Gateway. I also read several reviews on the ESV to see what other people thought of it.

February 23, 2007 | Posted in: ESV,General | Author: Crossway Staff @ 9:07 am | Comments Off »

Translating Specialized Terms

Some new editions of the ESV include a section in the preface explaining the ESV translators’ philosophy toward translating certain specialized terms. If you’ve wondered why the ESV translates YHWH as “the LORD” (with small caps), why “Christ” instead of “Messiah” occurs consistently throughout the New Testament, or why the ESV uses “behold,” here are your answers:

In the translation of biblical terms referring to God, the ESV takes great care to convey the specific nuances of meaning of the original Hebrew and Greek terms. First, concerning terms that refer to God in the Old Testament: God, the Maker of heaven and earth, introduced himself to the people of Israel with the special, personal name, whose consonants are YHWH (see Exodus 3:14-15). Scholars call this the “Tetragrammaton,” a Greek term referring to the four Hebrew letters YHWH. The exact pronunciation of YHWH is uncertain, because the Jewish people considered the personal name of God to be so holy that it should never be spoken aloud. Instead of reading the word YHWH, they would normally read the Hebrew word adonai (“Lord”), and the ancient translations into Greek, Syriac, and Aramaic also followed suit. When the vowels of the word adonai are placed with the consonants of YHWH, this results in the familiar word Jehovah that was used in some earlier English Bible translations. As is common among English translations today, the ESV usually renders the personal name of God (YHWH) with the word LORD (printed in small capitals). An exception to this is when the Hebrew word adonai appears together with YHWH, in which case the two words are rendered together as “the Lord [in lower case] GOD [in small capitals].” In contrast to the personal name for God (YHWH), the more general name for God in Old Testament Hebrew is ’elohim and its related forms of ’el or ’eloah, all of which are normally translated “God” (in lower case letters). The use of these different ways to translate the Hebrew words for God is especially beneficial to the English reader, enabling the reader to see and understand the different ways that the personal name and the general name for God are both used to refer to the One True God of the Old Testament.

Second, in the New Testament, the Greek word Christos has been translated consistently as “Christ.” Although the term originally meant “anointed,” among Jews in New Testament times the term came to designate the Messiah, the great Savior that God had promised to raise up. In other New Testament contexts, however, especially among Gentiles, Christos (“Christ”) was on its way to becoming a proper name. It is important, therefore, to keep the context in mind in understanding the various ways that Christos (“Christ”) is used in the New Testament. At the same time, in accord with its “essentially literal” translation philosophy, the ESV has retained consistency and concordance in the translation of Christos (“Christ”) throughout the New Testament.

A third specialized term, the word “behold,” usually has been retained as the most common translation for the Hebrew word hinneh and the Greek word idou. Both of these words mean something like “Pay careful attention to what follows! This is important!” Other than the word “behold,” there is no single word in English that fits well in most contexts. Although “Look!” and “See!” and “Listen!” would be workable in some contexts, in many others these words lack sufficient weight and dignity. Given the principles of “essentially literal” translation, it is important not to leave hinneh and idou completely untranslated, and so to lose the intended emphasis in the original languages. The older and more formal word “behold” has usually been retained, therefore, as the best available option for conveying the original sense of meaning.

February 21, 2007 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible News,ESV,ESV,News & Announcements,Translation | Author: Crossway Staff @ 9:46 am | (3) Comments »

New Introduction to the ESV

We’ve updated the Introduction to the ESV Bible page on this site to bring it in line with the latest text from Crossway. It’s also available in PDF (450K).

The PDF version, especially, is designed for you to print out and give to people who may not know much about the ESV. A version of this brochure is starting to appear in new printed ESVs.

February 19, 2007 | Posted in: ESV,General | Author: Crossway Staff @ 9:02 am | 1 Comment »

Switching from the KJV to the ESV

Drew at Truth and Repose explains why he switched from the KJV to the ESV:

I’ve been using the ESV in Bible classes since it was first published in 2001. This way, I could get familiar with the text to see if I really wanted to use it in the pulpit. It was a way of testing the waters before making the plunge….

The hardest part of making this switch is trying to quote from memory passages that I have cited from the KJV through all my years of preaching. Hopefully, my mind is making an “ESV” file for new quotations, while keeping the old “KJV” file with the memory work I’ve done in the past. With extensive work in two major translations, I should have a better grasp of the text, as I will be able to compare these two translations in my mind while studying.

February 16, 2007 | Posted in: ESV,General | Author: Crossway Staff @ 9:02 am | Comments Off »

Unabridged Audio Sales Increasing

Sunday’s Washington Post had an article about long-form audiobooks like War and Peace, which takes 70 hours to get through. Max McLean’s recording of the ESV, by comparison, takes 72 hours.

The article shows that, against the general trend of media consumption becoming more bite-sized, the market for long, unabridged recordings of books is expanding:

Given that pop culture is forever trending toward the condensed and the vapid, a 70-hour audiobook might sound like commercial folly—a Mensa product for an Us Weekly world. And maybe it is. Naxos won’t say how many copies [of War and Peace] have been downloaded directly from its site or sold in stores, where it retails for about $280.

But if the world has ever been ready for nearly three straight days of recorded Tolstoy it’s ready now. A few years ago, publishers had to beg retailers to stock audiobooks longer than three CDs. Now, that’s considered an ear snack. Unabridged is king. And abridged isn’t just on the wane. It’s basically stigmatized.

“We have readers who will get in touch with an author and express outrage if they see an abridged audio version of their book,” says Ana Maria Allessi, who heads Harper Collins’s audiobook division. “That drives authors insane.”

Downloadable books make it possible to store a spoken-word rendering of a big fat tome on an iPod, eliminating the need to stuff 25 CDs in a glove compartment. Plus, publishers and retailers figured out that audiobook fans aren’t semi-literates taking a break from “Two and a Half Men”; they are hard-core readers who consider abridgment a kind of cheating.

(Emphasis added.) Crossway has found that audio downloads of the ESV have sold well, which has in turn encouraged them to produce more unabridged recordings of their non-Bible books.

Via kottke.

February 14, 2007 | Posted in: ESV,General | Author: Crossway Staff @ 9:03 am | 1 Comment »