Andy at Why He Died posts a short review of the ESV.
He lists as weaknesses the “literary beauty” of the ESV (which he sees as sometimes pretentious) and its relative dearth of resources (commentaries, etc.) compared to older translations.
He focuses on the ESV’s readability, trustworthiness, and heritage as its strong points.
The ESV’s “literary beauty,” including words like behold, comes largely from its Tyndale-King James heritage, which Andy lists as a strength. The ESV translators chose to use these words not for elitist reasons but in part because the English-speaking church has used them successfully for centuries.
In the end, he recommends the ESV: “I love the ESV. I hope everyone will start using it. And I hope they’ll cut out the pompous ‘literary beauty’ words.”
Jeff VanGoethem at East White Oak Bible Church tells why he plans to switch to the ESV in his “preaching and teaching:”
1. A Sound Philosophy of Translation. The ESV seeks to be as literal as possible in translating the original. It avoids wordy and interpretive translations like many of the other “thought- for-thought” translations.
2. A Sound Use of Original Manuscripts. The translators of the ESV took pains to use the best possible manuscript evidence in wrestling with the various textual traditions.
3. A Sound grasp of English Equivalents. This translation seeks to use the best, plain, modern English terms which grasp the doctrinal ideas and terms of the Bible. This protects the meaning of the Bible. It does not engage in “gender neutral” efforts. It does not try to be political[ly] correct. The English is just very clear and plain throughout the translation, reflective of the intent of the original. It is also very readable.
4. A Sound Bible for Reading and Studying. Because the word order is as close to the original as possible, one can read and study this Bible with the sense that the author’s words, purposes and style is preserved. It seeks to retain the grammatical markers and breaks of the original composition. It is therefore highly commended for studying and interpreting the Bible.
Via Jason Woolever (at Post-Methodist), who just made the switch (or possibly not) himself: “I have decided to make it ‘my Bible.’ If you are looking for a new Bible, I would recommend this version. It’s reliable, readable, and very close to the actual Greek and Hebrew.”
Crossway has announced one of the new ESV editions that is coming out this fall: the ESV Journaling Bible. Here’s their description:
The Journaling Bible is a unique format with wide margins and ruled lines designed for writing prayers, observations, sermon notes, and personal reflections. It also includes a one-year Bible reading plan. This Bible is offered in a Journaling-style cover and a Calfskin cover.
- Size: 6.25″ x 7.25″
- 7.5-point type
- Words of Christ in black
- Ribbon marker
- Wide margin with nearly 2 inches of ruled writing space
Here’s a sample of the interior. (It’s just a mockup, so there are a few oddities, but you get the idea.)
It comes in two bindings: a black “original” cover ($29.99) and a black calfskin cover ($69.99). The Original cover has an elastic strap to give the Bible a more journal-like look.
Learn more or buy it at Crossway’s site.
Dave at Hold the Phone hypothesizes about the reasons behind the ESV’s popularity:
Ok so I admit, the rage for the ESV probably started when a bunch of young people saw these Bibles with really sweet covers…. Then the Greek students started buying the ESV as well and before you know it, we find out that the ESV beautifully translates some of our favorite texts and allows us to gain insights that he we hadn’t seen before. We started to discover that the ESV really picks up the tenses well and helps us pick up on aspect. Then people started realizing, ‘Hey um my devotions started coming alive again when I was actually forced to think about what I was reading….’ If your devos are getting monotonous, pick up an ESV and read your favorite passages. It’s like getting to eat your favorite sweet all day long without getting sick of it or getting really fat either.
One of the commenters asks about the ESV’s translation of Malachi 2:16. We’ve addressed this passage before.
Brian Mann tells how he shared Scripture with his Easter guest:
Today I put together some fitting Scriptures for Easter and placed them on plates so that my wife and I and our guest can read the Scriptures before we pray and eat. As one of my mentors taught me that everything is made holy by the word of God and prayer, we know our meal will be holy today.
Read the rest of his post to learn which verses he chose.