Our pastor told us a year or two ago to wait before using the ESV version, till the “stalwarts” have had the chance to go through it for a while, a year’s reading and study, maybe. And now here is what some of the men of God I admire have to say.
John Piper writes in his article called Good English With Minimal Translation: Why Bethleham Uses the ESV:
Why I would like to see the English Standard Version become the most common Bible of the English-speaking church, for preaching, teaching, memorizing, and study . . .
Piper explains why he thinks that the more literal translation of the ESV is better than a version like the NIV that uses more paraphrasing.
1. A more literal translation respects the original author’s way of writing. It is a way of honoring the inspired writers.
2. Translators are fallible and they may mislead the English reader if they use unnecessary paraphrases to bring out one possible meaning and conceal others.
3. A more literal translation gives preachers more confidence that they can preach what the English text says with authority that it reflects what the original Greek or Hebrew text says.
4. A more literal translation which preserves ambiguities that are really there in the original keeps open the possibility of new insight by future Bible readers.
But he is careful not to discourage people who are using other translations.
A Bible does not cease to be precious and powerful because its translators overuse paraphrase and put way too much of their own interpretation into the Bible. That’s the way God’s Word is! It breaks free from poor translations and poor preaching—for which I am very thankful. But even though the weakest translation is precious, and is used by God to save and strengthen sinful people, better translations would be a great blessing to the church and an honor to Christ.
John MacArthur has this to say (taken from Questions and Answers by John MacArthur)
I believe anything other than a literal translation of the Bible is a serious breach—serious breach—of God’s intention for how we handle His word. I think it’s a violation. Now, there are some that are worse than others . . .
Anytime you open a Bible and it says, “A translation for our times,” “a translation for modern times,” “a translation for people to understand,” you have a problem. “Modern times” has no right to determine what God said. Translation is translation. Interpretation is interpretation. Paraphrase is paraphrase. But when you blend those, you have very serious issues. We would say, perhaps, that the NIV is maybe the least troublesome of dynamic equivalency translations, but it’s the old slippery slope issue again.
And it just goes from there—and watch where the NIV has gone! From the NIV now to the TNIV and who knows where else it’s going to go, because once you have taken the step to say, “We have the right to change the original text so that people can understand it better,” you have just stepped away from what is the Word of God. That is why I always land on the NAS, the New King James or the new ESV, which is also formal equivalency and an excellent translation as such.
Other well-known people who endorse this translation are:
- Joni Eareckson Tada
- Nancy Leigh DeMoss
- Dr. Ravi Zacharias
- Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
You can read (or even listen to) the ESV Bible for free at www.esv.org/.
And you may win the Boomer’s draw and get a calfskin version of the ESV Study Bible. Click here for details.