Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Why I Use the ESV

It’s the New Year. People are beginning Bible reading plans afresh. In order to get motivated for a new start, some people like to buy new Bibles and/or use new translations for their Bible reading plan. If that is you allow me to suggest you use the ESV in 2013. (This also serves as an answer to the frequent question I get; which Bible should I use).

When I explain to people why I believe the ESV is the most helpful English translation I use a little illustration. If I had this chart hand I would use it too:

I say if the NASB (New American Standard Bible) had a child with the NIV (New International Version) and the kid was more like it’s dad than it’s mom it would be the ESV. What I mean by this is that it takes the best of the father (word-for-word faithfulness) but is less wooden and reads more like it’s mother.

I love the NASB for it’s faithfulness to the biblical text. Seldom when I am really going in depth in a Bible study will I say, “I think the NASB is way off here”. But it doesn’t translate well. It’s more difficult to preach with and to memorize. In my opinion it is too wooden of a translation. It misses some of the idioms.

The NIV (and also the NLT) is very easy to preach and memorize. It makes for a much easier read. But there are quite a few times that I will shake my head at what the NIV did with a text. That is not to say that you cannot trust your NIV Bible if that is what you use. There isn’t anything that will make you think that Jesus’ name was Clem and the gospel message is a guide to following a comet into another world. It’s faithful—but not as faithful to the original word-for-word as I would prefer.

So, I like their child—the ESV. In my mind it takes the best of both worlds.

“What about the HCSB?” (Holman Christian Standard), my SBC friends with a suit will ask. I like the HCSB. And if I were going to share the same illustration I would say that if the NASB and the NIV had a baby and the child was more like it’s mother but still had prominent characteristics of the father it’d be the HCSB. At the end of the day I prefer the ESV because I’m not a fan of momma’s boys*.

So pick up a copy of an ESV. Or get their tremendous Study Bible and get to reading in 2013.


*I think I just sacrificed any shot at ever holding a position within the SBC by calling the HCSB a “momma’s boy”.

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