Why the English Standard Version (ESV) Should not become the Standard English Version

I love the ESV. I remember when I was first introduced to the ESV in 2001. It has become my favorite Bible translation and has done a great service to English speaking Christians. However, as I have interacted with the text, I am finding more and more places where the formal equivalence translation philosophy is actually obscuring the meaning altogether. The following article by Mark Strauss is fantastic in highlighting the errors in the ESV. I do hope that the folks at Crossway would consider a future revision so as to make the text more clearly understood for the sake of the church.

Why the English Standard Version (ESV)
Should not become the Standard English Version
How to make a good translation much better
Mark L. Strauss
Bethel Seminary San Diego
m-strauss@bethel.edu

(this paper may be reproduced and distributed in complete form without written permission from the author)
I need to say first of all that I like the English Standard Version (ESV). After all, the ESV is a moderate
revision (about 6% I believe) of the Revised Standard Version (RSV, 1952), which itself was done by very
competent scholars. Like the New Revised Standard Version (also a revision of the RSV), the ESV generally
makes good exegetical decisions. Both the ESV and NRSV also significantly improve the gender language
of the RSV.
So I like the ESV. I am writing this article, however, because I have heard a number of Christian leaders
claim that the ESV is the “Bible of the future”—ideal for public worship and private reading, appropriate for
adults, youth and children. This puzzles me, since the ESV seems to me to be overly literal—full of
archaisms, awkward language, obscure idioms, irregular word order, and a great deal of “Biblish.” Biblish is
produced when the translator tries to reproduce the form of the Greek or Hebrew without due consideration
for how people actually write or speak. The ESV, like other formal equivalent versions (RSV, NASB,
NKJV, NRSV), is a good supplement to versions that use normal English, but is not suitable as a standard
Bible for the church. This is because the ESV too often fails the test of “standard English.”
This paper is a constructive critique of the ESV and an encouragement for its committee to make a good
translation much better by doing a thorough review and revision of its English style and idiom. Critical
questions we will ask include: (1) Does this translation make sense? (2) If comprehensible, is it obscure,
awkward or non-standard English? Would anyone speaking or writing English actually say this?

Read the entirety here: Why the ESV should not be the standard English Bible.

The atonement is particularly, unlimited!

“The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either: 1) All the sins of all men. 2) All the sins of some men, or 3) Some of the sins of all men. In which case it may be said: That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so, none are saved. That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth. But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins? You answer, “Because of unbelief.” I ask, “Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it is, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!” – John Owen (The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, Book 3, Ch. 3)

Some Thoughts on Ephesians 1:3-4

God, who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is to be blessed because he has blessed his people with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Verse four shows us the blessing of our being chosen in Christ.

 God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world so that we would be holy and blameless before him. We cannot move too quickly over the phrase, “in Christ”. We must note that Christ’s being chosen by the Father precedes our being chosen.(I Peter 1:20) This is so that the basis of the Father’s choosing of us is the merits of Christ and not foreseen faith or works in the lives of his children. If the Father chooses children on the basis of foreseen faith, then grace is rendered null and void. Grace, in this case, is no longer grace. Our being chosen is not the reward received for faith; but rather, the love, kindness, and mercy of God poured out upon His children. God has chosen us in spite of our selves, not because of ourselves. Our being chosen by God ought to render us speechless at the magnitude of grace poured upon us. It ought to humble us to the dust that the Sovereign of the universe, the One who cannot be gazed upon, would set his favor upon us. Our being chosen is for holiness and blamelessness.

A Prayer

Father, it is Your will that we be holy and blameless. You have given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Peter tells us that we have all things we need for life and Godliness. Yet we are prone to wander. We feel it, we know it. Like Paul we acknowledge a law in our members that when we ought to do good evil lies close at hand. Who will deliver us from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Holy Spirit we are in complete dependence on You. Without your work in our hearts and intercession for us we are powerless. Try as we may we will fail. Let us toil with all Your energy that You work in us that we will be holy and blameless before our God.

Lord Jesus, we trust the sufficiency of Your cross work. Your blood has covered for all time the sins of those who are being sanctified. Teach us to find our solace in the shadow of a bloody cross and glory in an empty tomb.

Holy Trinity be pleased to work in us, Your people, for the sake of Your name among the nations. Amen.