Yesterday I wrote a more objective post examining and comparing the differences of the four most popular versions. Today I’m going to talk aboutwhy the ESV is my personal favorite and why.
It keeps the “big words”
I’ll admit it, some of those big words are annoying. Almost every time I hear the word “propitiation” I’ve got to look it up again to make sure I’m remembering what it means correctly. It does, however, convey in the best way John’s meaning in 1 John 2:2 when he writes that Christ is the propitiation for our sins and the sins of the whole world.
So even though I often have to double check them and we never hear them naturally in day-to-day conversations I’m grateful for the “big words” of the ESV.
It respects the source material
The ESV is a remarkably close translation to the original Greek and Hebrew. Of course the New American Standard Bible (NASB) is closer but the ESV knows when to smooth out the language to make it readable. So not only is it a good Bible to do your study in, it is also a good one to read for your daily devotional.
Girls were girls and men were men
I enjoy the stance it takes on the whole gender issue debate. Many of the latest translations have sought to “update” the gender language of the Bible by using more gender inclusive language. The ESV is no exception. If you are familiar with the Hebrew or Greek then you know that in the Old Testament, for example, the Hebrew word Adam can refer to (1) the person by that name in the first few chapters of Genesis, (2) a man, or (3) it can refer to humanity in general just as man once did in English in a now bygone era.
Eve is also called Adam by God in Genesis 5:2 in the Hebrew before she is given the names woman or Eve. This is an instance where the singular man or Adam was used in a collective sense to refer to the entire human race. Which at that time only consisted of two people.
So I have no qualms when a translation chooses to use a term that is gender inclusive in place of a purely masculine term from the original language when it is clear from the context that the author had in mind both men and women at the time of his writing.
My issue is if I didn’t know the original language (my Hebrew is pretty horrible but I hope to improve it) then I would want to know as much as possible what the author originally wrote.
I know some versions want to tear down the cultural barriers that exist between the time of the authors and events of the Bible from our present situation but the whole gender issue is just one barrier. They are accomplishing enough in translating the text. Leave it to the scholars and pastors to interpret it for us.
A lesson learned the hard way from Spielberg and Lucas
Plus when I’m reading Homer or Shakespeare I want to know the way people thought and spoke back then. To me “updating” the language to meet the tastes of the modern culture is the equivalent of what Spielberg and Lucas did to E.T. and Star Wars with their “updates.”
Oh everyone loves CGI now, let’s toss in some of that to spice up the movies and breathe new life into them. Ugh, more like sewing on parts that didn’t belong in the first place creating something horrific like Frankenstein’s Monster.
We want the original. So no one has VCRs anymore, reformat them to DVD and Blu-ray, just don’t change around what was originally there.
So what do you think of my take on the ESV? What’s your favorite version of the Bible? Let me know in the comments below.