English Standard Version, good or bad ?

Discussion in 'Translations and Manuscripts' started by Croghanite, Mar 4, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Croghanite

    Croghanite Puritan Board Sophomore

    Is the ESV a good translation?
    Please briefly critique the ESV in comparison to the KJV. Is it a better or worse translation and why.
    Please show me an example of why its bettor or worse.

    I appreciate the help :handshake:
  2. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    From what I understand it is a very good translation of the Critical Text.
  3. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

  4. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    The ESV is a fine translation, done by evangelicals, of the standard Nestle-Aland text. It is an evangelical revision of the RSV. I highly recommend it, although, being a word-for-word translation, it often gets a bit non-English.
  5. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I think it will depend on who you ask. The AV folks are likely not going to argue as much with the method of translation but the selection of manuscripts.

    I'm torn between agreeing with them on one principle and disagreeing with them on another hand.

    On the one hand, I do find it troubling that committees of mostly secular scholars make the decisions on what manuscripts contain additions or subtractions from the Word of God. If this enterprise simply contained men who were self-professed Christians who believed in the Providence of God and prayed with the Church for the wisdom for the task I wouldn't be so uncomfortable. As it is, though, all the arguments (even from men I respect) are "...well you have to understand the science of this stuff and, look, science makes it plain that this manuscript has this addition and this one doesn't. We know that this is something a scribe added to make the Gospels match...."

    In my estimation, the Scriptures are something that is recognized by the Church because she hears the voice of her Bridegroom. It ought to be the enterprise of the Church to select manuscripts and I simply am not comfortable with a pagan "scholar" telling us all what our Bridegroom said.

    That said, I don't necessarily buy the idea either that the scholars that met to write the King James were under Divine Inspiration when they collected their manuscripts for the purpose of translation. The Textus Receptus is not a manuscript but those that they chose. I'm willing to grant the idea that the Church could gather together again and potentially choose manuscripts that might be different than those chosen.

    In the end, though, the TR has going for it that it was the work of the Church. That can't be completely dismissed. I guess I'm of the opinion that the Church could theoretically meet and choose a different set of texts and profound injury wouldn't be done to the Body of Christ by their selection. I guess I've never bought completely into the doomsday scenarios that are sometimes painted.

    Finally, I'm not a big fan of the English in the AV. I know, I know - what else has such a majestic style? Maybe I'll be persuaded otherwise someday but it's just too "foreign" for me. I know that's even sort of an argument that we should use it because it was sort of a "transcendent" style even in its own day. I'm still working through whether I buy into that completely and whether or not I even believe I should pray that way.

    I'm usually sort of a hard nose on certain topics but I guess I'm being politically correct on this one.

    Enjoy your can of worms. :worms:
  6. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    This article is misleading in that it consists mostly of an attack on the critical text of Nestle-Aland (at least in the first portion of it), upon which all modern translations are based, not just the ESV. Secondly, the article glosses over the intense problems associated with the Septuagintal text-critical matters, which are complex, since the LXX can quite often be a witness to a different Hebrew parent text than the Masoretic. Thirdly, it attempts to use the poisoned well argument with regard to the RSV. I find that much less than convincing. Fourthly, the comparisons used to prove that it is only a "light revision" are texts that there is little difference among all translations. Fifthly, the issue of plural "you" and singular "you" is a highly problematic issue to bring up, since people do not know of these distinctions, by and large, in the KJV. Therefore, it is just as confusing for someone to read the KJV in this respect as it is to read any modern translation. It is the job of the pastor to point out when these changes in number are significant. But he would have to do this regardless of which translation he was using. I don't like to disagree with Andrew Myers on much, but I found the article underwhelming.
  7. jambo

    jambo Puritan Board Senior


    I had been using the NASB until it started to fall apart. At that time the ESV arrived on the scene and I received a sample of Marks gospel in the ESV. I liked the sample and bought the ESV to replace the NASB. By and large I think it is a good translation but there are one or two instances of obscure English words which appear in the translation which I find a bit off putting. Who today would use "necromancers" (as in 1 Sam 28.3) surely 'mediums and spiritist' (NASB) or 'familiar spirits and wizards' (AV) is on more familiar territory.

    That apart I like it. There are key test verses Virgin or young girl? (Is 7.14/Mt 1.23), Propitiation, expiation or atonement? (Ro 3.25; Heb 2.17; 1 Jn 2.2) and the way it translates the likes of Ro 9.5 etc and it passes the tests of its Christology and accuracy.
  8. Grymir

    Grymir Puritan Board Graduate

    As a KJV person, what I've heard and read, the ESV is probably the best non-KJV version there is. It seems to be not watered down like the NIV (liberal lovin bible translation :p), and it flows better that some of the other modern translations, i.e. readability. The texts that they use are better than most others, but I must confess not as good as the KJV. (P.s. I got me a Geneva a couple of months ago, there's something to be said about the title page which reads: translated out of the Greek by Theodore Beza! But I digress.)
  9. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    But "necromancer" is familiar to anyone who has read The Hobbit. ;)
  10. VaughanRSmith

    VaughanRSmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    I love my ESV. I fully agree with Rich's post, although I do enjoy reading the KJV on occasion.
  11. sastark

    sastark Puritan Board Graduate

    The New King James Version is not based on the Nestle-Aland manuscripts, but on the TR.
  12. Presbyterian Deacon

    Presbyterian Deacon Puritan Board Graduate

    The ESV is a fine translation of the wrong set of Greek texts.:2cents:

    If you want a good modern translation, check out the New King James Version.
  13. danmpem

    danmpem Puritan Board Junior

    I thought that's exactly what the translators did with the ESV, but I could be wrong. Isn't that what the ESV Board was for? The one with people like Piper, Packer, Mohler, and Grudem?
  14. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    No, they went with the Nestle-Alland text as Lane noted.
  15. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I argue it is a bad translation as well as based upon an inferior text. In study and sermon preparation I use numerous translations, including the ESV, and I'm often left shaking my head as to where the ESV would lead an unsuspecting reader.
  16. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Well then. There you go. :lol:

    Would you agree, however, that your primary objection is the manuscript selection or no?
  17. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    That would be the first objection, just as what is translated is the first question; then secondly, a unified profession of faith from the translators; thirdly, a means of securing uniformity of translation and good quality control, thereby filtering out idiosyncratic preference; finally, the fourth question is the production itself.
  18. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor


    What are your objections on points 2, 3, and 4 with regard to the ESV. I question the "filtering out idiosyncratic preference" with most translations where different scholars are assigned a book to translate.
  19. Croghanite

    Croghanite Puritan Board Sophomore

    My original post was started because of my dilemma from this thread.

    I have a question for those of you that believe the AV is a superior translation.
    considering what was posted in the above link (its only one post), what translation would you give to your friend?
  20. Thomas2007

    Thomas2007 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hello Rich,

    These are some insightful comments. Several months ago my elders asked me to put together a series of lectures on this subject (biblical criticsm in general). I completed week four this past Lord's Day out of 16 weeks of proposed lectures.

    This last week I presented Erasmus work and concluded as follows:

    "Overall I believe it would be correct to conclude that Erasmus, in 1516, did to the Roman Church in terms of the common received text, through his Latin translation, what Wescott & Hort did to the Protestant Church in terms of the Egyptian text 365 years later. The former was Reformational in its scope, the latter Counter-Reformational."

    You've hit on one my biggest concerns regarding this whole debate. In 1516 the publication of a new translation based upon a different Greek text was precipitated by heresy in the Church. The Romanist's were clear in their declaration - "learn to believe in the Church not in the Gospel", and their persecution of believers, who simply didn't recognize the outward forms of ecclesiastical authority as salvific, was injury upon insult.

    Today, however, the public life of the Church has been made a battle ground re-introducing the very textual line upon which the Reformation was born opposing. There is no heresy taught in the Protestant Bible, in fact the proponents plainly claim they are not engaged in altering Protestant theology. But that is disingenuous because just because an orthodox interpretation can still be obtained from a different text doesn't mean that the changes won't lend themselves, once exegesis and interpretation is applied, to new and novel doctrines.

    The almost total lack of Pastoral concern over the issue is alarming to me and troublesome. When I came to knowledge of this issue two decades ago it was based upon switching to the NIV because a good friend had told me it was just an updated translation, to make it easier to understand, he said. He didn't disclose the issue of a different text - nor did I consciously notice it. But my unconscious did, and I'll never forget waking up in a cold sweat doubting my faith over reading Luke 2:33 in the NIV where Joseph was changed to father. I was leading a Bible study in our apartment complex on Thursday evenings at the time and we were going through Luke. I distinctly remember waking up in the middle of the night as if arguing with someone in a dream over the deity of Christ, and the opponent asserting the opposite by asking how this is so if Joseph is His father? I got up and got the Bible and then got my old King James out and compared them, I was horrified. I didn't know much, but I knew Joseph and father were two different words that aren't mistranslations.

    I began studying it out just comparing texts and found several more shocking examples and started talking to my pastor at the time and several brothers. Universally, the response was the same - "Oh, but that is still found over here, or, over there;" "another text still teaches this or that." The lack of pastoral concern distressed me then and still does today, because what might be recorded in the Bible based upon what some men said about the identify of Christ's father and what the Holy Spirit is saying in Luke 2:33 of critical texts should cause people concern. That set my feet on studying this out to much more depth, but the whole thing - which you pointed out - still troubles me to this day, and that is that the texts which are changed teach and enforce orthodoxy, and there removal is justified on those grounds.

    And you correctly point out as well, the way in which critical proponents seem to claim absolute knowledge on issues based upon multiple texts strown out across centuries and continents. Well, we can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the First Amendment of our Constitution doesn't mean what the US Supreme Court redefined it to about 60 years ago, and the majority don't seem to care nor believe you when you prove it - but these men speak in absolute terms as if they have total knowledge based upon nothing more than their opinion. It's very similar to the way the evolutionist will assert in absolute terms what is the creation of his own mind, and every just nods in agreement. That must be the way it is, science has spoken, like EF Hutton or something - if you remember those old commercials.

    No one seems to be concerned that the primary authority of the Church has been changed inconsistent with the secondary authority because they can still exegete the doxology of the Lord's prayers, for example, from other texts and show it is a correct theology. But if you don't have the Confession, then why would you ever do that, how would you know to even consider that?

    I'm troubled by the fact that Pastors that are trained in seminary and generally have strong faith don't seem to be, at least to me, deeply concerned over the fragility of the faith of men under their care and how this issue can have drastic consequences. If men were bringing forward texts that taught heresy and showing that they were wrong, as Erasmus and the Reformers were doing, against the Latin Vulgate, then I would be much more inclined to consider the arguments. But all of this public debate over the removal of texts that they agree teach orthodoxy doesn't carry any weight with me, I don't see how Christ is glorified in promoting unbelief and casting continual disparagements upon the veracity of the Word of God.


  21. Sydnorphyn

    Sydnorphyn Puritan Board Freshman

    Test cast...hummm Isaiah 7

    Why would one translate alma as virgin in Isaiah? John
  22. tellville

    tellville Puritan Board Junior

    So would you be more comfortable with a translation like the NIV which used its own eclectic text? (Basically, the standardized CT but with their "corrections")? Or are you talking more about an actual grouping together of Christians who decide to make a whole new critical text version from scratch? Just curious.
  23. Grymir

    Grymir Puritan Board Graduate

    Hi Layman, I'm a KJV person. I would take them to my local Christian Store and let them pick one out. I would steer them to KJV of course, but anything but NIV, RSV, or the message would do. And no prayer of Jabez study bible either :bouncy:

    Even though I'm a KJV person, the best bible translation is that which someone will read. As they mature in faith, so will their tastes and knowledge. :D
  24. Presbyterian Deacon

    Presbyterian Deacon Puritan Board Graduate

    If he would not use KJV, then I would give him New King James.
  25. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    I discussed this here and probably should give it a rest. But I love to point out the strange rendering of Hebrews 11:31 (the text is the same in Greek regardless of what manuscript you prefer):

    Friendly welcome? The sentence ends with "eirenes", which means peace.

    It just seems like someone was playing with the words rather than being faithful to their translation mandate. The double entendre of a prostitute giving a "friendly welcome" detracts from the text and misses the plain meaning.
  26. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Dennis, I think you're right about modern versions in general divvying up books to specialists in their field without unifying control. I suppose the ESV team had a broadly evangelical consensus with a reformed leaning, but no confessional consciousness. The work corrected some bad examples of its predecessor, but didn't address some poor (sometimes deliberately unreformed) tendencies of the translation as a whole.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2008
  27. Blue Dog

    Blue Dog Puritan Board Freshman

    The ESV in my opion, is good for personal and public reading, but for study, I will stick with my Key Word NASB...:gpl:
  28. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Sadly Trinitarian Bible Society articles are low on fairness and low on scholarship; they are really not worth much. Much better to post a more weighty critique of something than such an amateur effort (BTW I used to be a member of TBS, and they do much great work in spreading the word of God).
  29. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

    I think you need to remember that the TBS are writing for those who are not scholars, explaining the issues clearly if not a little (too?) basically. The best place to start IMO is The Lord Gave the Word
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page