Tuesday, February 28, 2012

[Opinion] ESV on Rapid Release?

1. "ESV" refers to the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible:

(a) ESV first appeared in 2001;

(b) ESV has a textual update in 2007 which was not identified by Crossway Bibles, the publisher; and

(c) ESV has a second textual update in 2011 which the publisher will identify as "ESV 2011".

For a translation of the Bible, is the ESV updating the text too rapidly?

2. For web browsing, I have been using Mozilla Firefox since it came out.

Version 1.0 of Firefox came out in 2004 and version 3.6 came out in 2010.

It took six years for Firefox to move from version 1.0 to 3.6.

But since version 4.0's released in March, 2011, Firefox has been on "rapid release".

According to Wikipedia: "New releases are planned to occur at six week intervals. The aim of this faster-paced process is to get new functions to users faster." ("Firefox", Wikipedia.)

Firefox version 10.0 was released in January 31, 2012.

Thus in less than a year, Firefox's version number moves from 4.0 to 10.0.

Now for technology, I do not mind "rapid release".

Computer technology has been changing very fast and I am glad that Firefox is trying to keep up with the latest and greatest.

But do I want the text of my English Bible on "rapid release"?

3. The English Standard Version is a much respected English translation of the Holy Bible.

ESV is the latest English translation of the Bible in a very venerable translation stream.

This translation stream includes the following notable versions:

(a) The William Tyndale translation of 1525-26;

(b) The King James Version of 1611;

(c) The English Revised Version of 1881-1895;

(d) The American Standard Version of 1901;

(e) The Revised Standard Version of 1946 to 1977;

(f) The New American Standard Bible of 1971 to 1995;

(g) The New King James Version of 1982;

(h) The New Revised Standard Version of 1990; and

(i) The English Standard Version of 2001 to 2011.

4. For over 300 years, the King James Version is "the" Bible for English readers.

In conservative Christian circles, it was not until the 1970s that people began to switch to more modern translations of the Bible.

But once the translation floodgate has opened, it proves very hard to stop.

We are in the midst of an explosion of English translations of the Bible.

And as a consumer of Bible translations, I love every minute of it.

But appreciating the proliferation of English translations of the Bible is a very different question of agreeing with whether a translation should keep revising its text on a rather "rapid" basis.

I am having doubts about the wisdom of the ESV releasing two revised texts within a 10 years period.

5. Two reasons why "rapid release" of Bible translations may not be good:

(a) A local congregation may adopt a particular translation such as the ESV so that the entire congregation may share a translation in sermons and worship.

ESV 2001, 2007 and 2011 might wreak havoc with that plan.

(b) Many Christians memorize key Bible passages.

ESV 2001, 2007 and 2011 might wreak havoc with that memory work too.

6. I appreciate the Translation Oversight Committee of the ESV trying to bring the most accurate translation of the Bible to the English reading public.

But I really do have doubts about a "rapid release" of new texts of the translation as a strategy to incorporate the latest and greatest in biblical scholarship.

Maybe that should be left to commentaries and other study aids?

7. Michael Marlowe has a list of the ESV 2007 revisions here:


The ESV 2011 revisions are listed here:



"English Standard Version", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,
(accessed 2012-02-28).

"Firefox", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,
(accessed 2012-02-28).