ESV Study Bible

esvsb-featureA friend gave me a present this week. It’s the new ESV Study Bible, and I have been very impressed. As well as the ESV text of the Bible, it contains over 50 articles on a number of topics in theology, ethics and Christian teaching. It was good to see some very familiar names in the list of contributors: Desi Alexander, Dan Doriani, Bob Letham, Gordon McConville, Lee Ryken, Dave Powlison and Vern Poythress.

What impressed me was the clear and unambiguous way the editors have set out their theological position.

The doctrinal perspective of the ESV Study Bible is that of classic evangelical orthodoxy, in the historic stream of the Reformation. The notes are written from the perspective of confidence in the complete truthfulness of the Bible. In passages where errors or contradictions have been alleged, possible solutions to these challenges have been proposed. At times the notes also summarize interpretations that are inconsistent with classic evangelical orthodoxy, indicating how and why such views are in conflict with Scripture.

Everyone comes to both the translation and interpretation the Bible (isn’t all translation interpretation?) with their own set of presuppositions. It’s good when those presuppositions are stated clearly. I checked out some contentious Bible passages and was encouraged to note that in a number of places the writer of the notes agreed with me! In particular, I note that the ESV Study Bible , unlike Kingsway’s Life Application Study Bible, sets out the orthodox evangelical view of I Timothy 2. Good job!

I note that Jim McKee in the Faith Mission Bookshop in Portadown has a good supply. I suppose my only complaint is that with over 2,700 pages it’s a bit chunky and not the sort of Bible you would take with you to read in pastoral visitation.

2 Replies to “ESV Study Bible”

  1. In several ways the ESV is a definite improvement in translation over many of the modern versions. But even with these corrections, numerous problems still remain and are perpetuated in the ESV. The ESV translators used similar textual principles for each variant and for the most part followed the United Bible Societies’ 4th edition/Nestle-Aland 27th edition14 which is based upon modern eclectic principles of text criticism. Thus in the New Testament there are the
    normal serious problems associated with the use of the Critical Greek text. The following verses are omitted from the ESV Bible in their entirety but are found in the Textus Receptus Greek New Testament, the text which underlies the New Testament of Reformation-era
    Matthew 17.21, 18.11, 23.14
    Mark 7.16, 9.44, 9.46, 11.26, 15.28
    Luke 17.36, 23.17
    John 5.4
    Acts 8.37, 15.34, 28.29
    Romans 16.24
    1 John 5.7 (the famous Trinitarian reading known as the Johannine Comma is omitted
    without any footnote to explain its omission)

    Also, consider the following comparisons: 1 Timothy 3.16
    AV God was manifest in the flesh
    ESV He was manifested in the flesh

    A clear reference where Jesus is called God is removed in the RSV and is not revised or corrected in the ESV.

    Matthew 19.9
    AV And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and
    shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

    ESV And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery. Thus the prohibition of marriage to a divorced wife is omitted. In our day and age we do not
    need omissions like this.

    Further problems with the ESV include the normal errors made by modern
    translators. The phrase “through his blood” is missing from Colossians 1.14 (it is omitted from the majority of Greek manuscripts but is present in the Textus Receptus). It is usually stated that since the parallel idea is found in Ephesians 1.7, there is no loss of doctrinal meaning in modern versions. The problem is that if someone reads
    Colossians 1.14, the blood atonement is missing. If someone happens to use a reference Bible and looks up the reference in Ephesians, he will find the phrase “through his blood”. But this is lost on the person who reads the text as it is written in Colossians. The same kind of
    problem is found in other passages which deal with subjects such as the virgin birth (Luke 2.33, 43) and the deity of Christ (1 Timothy 3.16). Whenever something is omitted in the text being read or memorised, it is usually found in other passages, but this does not help the
    reader who is not aware of the other verses.

    One further point needs to be added to the “legacy issue”. When theological terms such as “only begotten”, “firstborn” and “grace” are altered to “only” (John 1.14), “a son” (Matthew 1.25) and “favour” for “grace” in numerous places in the Old Testament, does this merit the
    ESV a place in the “Tyndale-King James legacy”? Although not a new translation, it departs in many and varied ways from the AV legacy.

    The ESV, along with several more new translations which are due to come on the market in the next several years, cannot begin to compete with the numbers and influence of NIVs and NIV study note Bibles which have been sold. Thus, the likelihood that it will indeed become the
    “English standard” is slim. In addition, God’s people have the option of the Authorised Version which has stood the test of time and critics, and still remains the king of Bible versions for those who take the time to appreciate it. People who like the AV for its accuracy, excellence and sound textual basis will not want this new revision.

    Thus it can be seen that the ESV is a light revision of the RSV and that because of the textual basis and translational errors carried over
    from the RSV I must disagree with you on this version, and I cannot consider it to be a trustworthy translation of the Bible.

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