Does the English Standard Version Stand in the Classic Mainstream of English Bible Translations?
By L. Brigden, Senior Editorial Consultant (Linguistics)
The English Standard Version (ESV) first appeared in 2001 and since then has been revised a number of times (2007, 2011 and 2016). The ESV is intended to appeal to the more conservative Christian, being portrayed as standing in ‘the classic mainstream of English Bible translations’,1 beginning with the Tyndale New Testament and the Authorised (King James) Version and from there to the Revised Version and the Revised Standard Version. The ESV professes to adhere to the principle of formal equivalence in translation and to reject the contrary principle of dynamic equivalence.2 This supposed return to the historic principle of formal equivalence and the consequent attempt to mirror ‘the majesty of the style’3 of the original Hebrew and Greek in English translations is an important and welcome change. Where translators have a high regard for the original Biblical languages by which the Holy Spirit conveys divine truth they no longer attempt to work out what the inspired writer ‘meant’ to say, or attempt to conform what he has in fact written to the prejudices of a contemporary society, but they simply render the original as it stands.
But while the ESV professes to stand in ‘the classic mainstream of English Bible translations’, it actually departs from that mainstream in two significant ways. Firstly it departs by abandoning the traditional and time honoured Greek Received Text in favour of a more recently devised and corrupt Critical Text, and secondly it departs from the principle of formal equivalence and conforms to the prejudices of at least some sections of modern society by adopting gender neutral4 language. Read full articleHome Page