Title & Purpose

Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble:

for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand, Joel 2:1.

All quotations from the Scriptures will be from the Authorised Version - the best and most accurate English translation of the Scriptures.

Please see Sermons & Articles further down the Blog about why the Authorised Version is the best and most accurate English translation of the Scriptures

and why we reject the many perversions of the Scriptures, including those so beloved of many neo-evangelicals at present such as ESV & NKJV.

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Friday, 25 April 2014

What is wrong with the English Standard Version?

This is a re-posting of the synopsis of a sermon preached back in May 2011 on the subject of the English Standard Version, which so many evangelicals so dearly seem to love. The audio of the sermon can be listened to on Sermonaudio by following this link.

What is wrong with the English Standard Version?
The English Standard Version, or the ESV as it is more commonly known, was first published in 2001. Since that time it has become quite a favourite among professing evangelicals, particularly among those of a Reformed persuasion, who wish for a variety of reasons to reject the Authorised Version.

The ESV is promoted as following in a long line of succession to other Bible versions. In this line of succession are: 
[1] The Revised Version (1881–85) 
[2] The American Standard Version (1901) 
[3] The Revised Standard Version (1946–1971) and then 
[4] The ESV (2001-). 

The ESV has subsequently undergone a minor revision in 2007. However, the publisher of the ESV has chosen not to identify the updated text as a second or revised edition; it is simply intended to replace the original ESV under the original name. At present, both revisions co-exist on the market.

The ESV website states: The English language has changed over the centuries, and modern readers find the KJV’s archaic words and sentence structures difficult to understand. Throughout the course of the twentieth century, it became clear that Bible readers needed a translation they could easily understand, resulting in a proliferation of Bible translations.

Given the wide variety of translations today, the ESV occupies a unique place in the classic stream of essentially literal translation and careful attention to literary beauty. The result is a highly accurate translation that retains the literary impact of the KJV but that still speaks powerfully for today. 

Furthermore it says: The ESV Bible carries forward the trusted legacy of the Bible in English—the legacy established first in the Tyndale New Testament and the KJV Bible. With this legacy as the foundation, the ESV Bible reflects the beauty and majesty of the original languages, first captured centuries ago by these early Bible translations.

But the ESV also provides the most recent evangelical Christian Bible scholarship and enduring readability for today. The ESV translation process itself was based on the trusted principles of essentially literal translation, which combines word-for-word accuracy with readability and literary excellence.

As we well know modern versions are about more than updating archaic words. It is misleading to suggest that this is the primary motive behind new translations. There is no mention in these sentences of following the Alexandrian text. It is not therefore following in the line of Tyndale's Bible or the Authorised Version. 

The ESV claims to follow a more literal translation philosophy. The outcome is supposedly a translation that is more literal than the NIV, but more idiomatic than the New American Standard Bible.

We want this evening to consider some issues that make the ESV unacceptable.

I. The Background to the Translation of the English Standard Version 
It has been clearly stated that the ESV is an evangelical revision of the Revised Standard Version. It is designed to correct the non-Christian interpretations of the Revised Standard Version in the Old Testament and claims to improve the accuracy throughout with more literal renderings.

It is clearly stated in the preface to the ESV that it: is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA.

Coming from this line of Bible versions that it does the preface further states: the 1971 RSV text providing the starting point for our work. This new version, issued in 2001, could not be called the New Revised Standard Version, since that name was already taken by another revision of the RSV. Thus a new name, the English Standard Version, was chosen instead.

Nevertheless, only about 5–10% of the RSV text was changed in the ESV, 90-95% of the ESV remains exactly the same as the RSV of 1971.

The following paragraphs are taken from the WORLD magazine, dated 5th June 1999. They reveal the interesting circumstances in which the ESV was conceived:
The English Standard Version (ESV), announced in February by Crossway Books, had its roots in discussions that took place before the May 1997 meeting called by James Dobson at Focus on the Family headquarters to resolve the inclusive NIV issue.

The night prior to the meeting, critics of re-gendered language
[in the NIV] gathered in a Colorado Springs hotel room to discuss the next day's strategy. During the course of the evening it became clear their concerns with the NIV extended beyond gender issues. The group discussed the merits of the Revised Standard Version, first published in 1952 by the National Council of Churches and recently replaced by the New Revised Standard Version, a re-gendered update.

Some months later, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School professor Wayne Grudem and Crossway President Lane Dennis entered into negotiations with the National Council of Churches to use the 1971 revision of the Revised Standard Version as the basis for a new translation. An agreement was reached in September 1998 allowing translators freedom to modify the original text of the RSV as necessary to rid it of de-Christianing translation choices.

The meeting referred to in this article resulted in an agreement signed by all the participants (the Colorado Springs Guidelines), which set forth principles of translation that would rule out the use of gender-neutral language. Clearly the ESV was projected as a version that would deliberately adhere to these guidelines, and this is confirmed in the Preface to the version, which gives three paragraphs in defense of generic masculine terms. 

A number of points are worth noticing from these statements
1. There was an unhappiness among evangelicals regarding the NIV, particular with its re-gendered language.
2. There was a growing desire to have another new version.
3. There was an inclination towards the Revised Standard Version despite acknowledging its de-Christianing translation choices. Remember that the RSV is one of a multitude of modern versions based upon the Alexandrian text which came from the heretical school of Alexandria, with its changes and omission of 2,500 words in the New Testament, the equivalent of taking 1 & 2 Peter out of the Bible altogether!

II. The Translators of the English Standard Version 
The ESV website states: The original ESV Translation Team includes more than 100 people. The twelve-member Translation Oversight Committee has benefited from the work of more than fifty biblical experts serving as Translation Review Scholars and from the input of more than fifty members of the Advisory Council, all of which has been carried out under the auspices of the Crossway Board of Directors. This 100-member team, which is international and represents many denominations, shares a commitment to historic evangelical orthodoxy, and to the authority and sufficiency of the inerrant Scriptures.

Lets take one individual from this translation team, the renowned J. I. Packer. He is in his 80s now but he was born in England and educated at Oxford University. He was greatly influenced by the writings of C.S. Lewis. He went on to be ordained as a Anglican minister. Today he lives in Canada. He is considered by many as one of the most influential evangelicals in North America.

J.I. Packer was the theological editor on the ESV. In 2008 Packer wrote an endorsement for a book called 'Creation or Evolution: Do We have to Choose?' by Denis Alexander. The book advocated theistic evolution and was critical of Intelligent Design. Packer said of the book: Surely the best informed, clearest and most judicious treatment of the question in its title that you can find anywhere today. He also said: the biblical narratives of creation... don't obviously say anything that bears one way or another on the question of whether the evolutionary hypothesis might be true or not... 

In more recent years, his support of the ecumenical movement has brought sharp criticism from some conservatives, particularly after the publication of the book: Evangelicals and Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission in which Packer was one of the contributors. His views on Mother Teresa are liberal.

Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones broke off fellowship with Packer in 1966, when Packer took the side of evangelical ecumenism and then co-authored a work with two Anglo-Catholics in 1970 called Growing into Union. The publication of that work led to the formal break between Lloyd-Jones and Packer, bringing an end to the Puritan Conferences.

These are the types of men who have overseen the translation of the English Standard Version!

III. Some Specific Problems with the English Standard Version 
1. There are the general problems which any modern version has, which is based upon the corrupt Alexandrian text. The test regarding those fundamental verses which are missing in modern versions is applicable to the ESV as well. Not all of them are missing in this new version as the ESV does change back  Isaiah 7:14 from young woman to virgin. However, the ESV does not change: 1 Timothy 3:16; Micah 5:2; Luke 2:33; Colossians 1:14 with their attacks upon the person and work of Christ.

2. Some editions of the ESV contain the Apocrypha. This presents the Apocrypha as being of the same standing the Old & New Testaments when it isn't.

3. Along with the NIV the ESV teaches that Adam was with Eve when she eat the forbidden fruit. Genesis 3:6 in the ESV reads: So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. The words 'who was' are not in the original.

4. The ESV has a bearing upon the acceptance of the Westminster Standards: 
[1] To accept and use the ESV necessitates the removal of the last question of the Shorter Catechism, with its teaching on the conclusion of the Lord's prayer. The question reads: Q107: What doth the conclusion of the Lord's prayer teach us? The answer states: The conclusion of the Lord's prayer, [which is, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever, Amen.] teacheth us, to take our encouragement in prayer from God only, and in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to him. And in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen. The Scriptural quotation within this answer is taken from Matthew 6:13, a verse which is missing from the ESV Bible. These corrupt versions shorten the Lord's prayer and insinuate that the words: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever, Amenare an uninspired addition to the Word of God. In omitting them from the concluding part of this question and answer they make the Shorter Catechism an irrelevance in this place.

[2] The ESV omits proof texts used in the Westminster Confession of faith. For example, 1 John 5:7,8* is edited and part of these two verses are not to be found in an ESV Bible. The two verses read in the Authorised Version: For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. The following words are removed from these two verses in the ESV Bible: …the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth….

This is the first proof text inserted by the Westminster Divines to support the doctrine of the Trinity in the Westminster Confession, chapter 2, section 3. How ironic that it is often those who use the ESV who in turn harp on about faithfulness to confessional standards. It seems they have abandoned that position on this issue!

5. The ESV weakens the Scriptural teaching for all women to wear headcovering. In a number of places in 1 Corinthians ch 11 the ESV changes the words 'woman' and 'man' to now read 'wife' and 'husband'. There is no warrant for this. This translation weakens the argument for use of the headcovering by all women. This infers that only married women are to wear headcovering.

It is little wonder that some of the churches who use the ESV don't make an issue of any woman wearing headcovering!

6. A whole series of verses omitted of the text. All of the following, and many others, are omitted in the ESV: 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.

7. There are whole passages that the ESV translators don't know what to do with:
[1] John 7:53-8.11. Against this passage the ESV has a set of in-text squared brackets which includes the statement at the head of the passage: the earliest manuscripts do not include John 7:53-8:11. The entire passage is blocked off with double brackets and then adds the footnote: Some manuscripts do not include 7:53–8:11; others add the passage here or after 7:36 or after 21:25 or after Luke 21:38 with variations in the text

[2] Mark 16:9-20. Again there is a set of in-text squared brackets which includes the statement at the head of the passage: Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9-20. This whole passage is also enclosed in double brackets and includes a long technical textual footnote which questions the inclusion of this passage and mentions the alternative 'short ending' of Mark’s Gospel: Some manuscripts end the book with 16:8; others include verses 9–20 immediately after verse 8. At least one manuscript inserts additional material after verse 14; some manuscripts include after verse 8 the following: But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told. And after this, Jesus himself sent out by means of them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. These manuscripts then continue with verses 9–20.

This habit calls into question the authority of these familiar passages by making it appear that, not only do we not know if the passage should be in the text, but we do not even know where it should be located, if indeed it is to be included. This hardly inspires confidence in the Bible!

It is difficult to see any reason which would support the use of this corrupt version of the Scriptures.

*Further information on 1 John 5:7,8  mentioned in this post can be in found on the Trinitarian Bible Society website -  Why 1 John 5:7-8 is in the Bible

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