Why We Use the ESV Bible

The English Standard Version (ESV) is the official Bible version of RPCB. We understand that there are many good Bible translations out there, but believe the ESV has qualities that put it above the rest for our purposes.

ESV ONLINE BIBLE – You can read it and keep track of your notes!

Why is the ESV our official Bible version?

– Formal Equivalence Method of Translation –

There are basically two types of translation methods to consider when comparing Bible translations. Formal equivalence, which is a word-for-word translation, as much as is possible in the receptor language. Functional equivalence, which is a thought-for-thought translation, trying to convey the meaning behind the text instead of translating the text itself. In functional equivalence there is more interpretation from the translators than in formal equivalence. Therefore it is much more likely to find theological biases in a functionally equivalent translation.

It is important to base our arguments for formal equivalent translations from the Bible itself as our rule of faith. If the Bible was meant to be preserved thought-for-thought, then we should adhere to functional equivalence translation principles. If the Bible was meant to be preserved word-for-word, then we should adhere to formal equivalence translation principles.

And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deu 8:3, ESV)

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. (Pro 30:5, ESV)

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Mat 4:4, ESV)

For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Mat 5:18, ESV)

But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void. (Luk 16:17, ESV)

As we see, the scriptures themselves speak plainly on the matter. The very words of God are important, not only the thoughts.

The ESV is an essentially literal translation. As such it attempts to make the original biblical languages as transparent as possible to the reader using the formal equivalence method of translation.

Here is a chart that shows where some popular Bible versions are at (taken from Translating Truth)…

– Use of the Best Available Texts –

The ESV uses the best available Hebrew and Greek Texts.

  • The Hebrew Text used is “Hebraica Stuttgartensia” 2nd Edition
  • The Greek Text used is the UBS 4th Edition “Greek New Testament” and the NA 27th edition “Novum Testamentum Graece”

The modern critical text is to be preferred because it considers all available documents to ascertain the original reading of Scripture. It does not limit itself to one particular family of manuscripts, but considers all the manuscripts God has actually providentially preserved.

– Literary Quality –

Finally, in the opinion of RPCB, the ESV demonstrates a step forward in literary style. There have not been many literal translations of the Bible that have also had a literary beauty. As a matter of fact, it has often been said of the more literal versions that they are quite wooden in their literary style. The ESV has made large strides forward in coupling literal translation with literary beauty. This makes it a joy to read and helps in the memorization of Scripture.

– Summary –

With a zeal for faithfulness to the original text, transparency of the original language into the receptor language, and a desire for literary excellence, the ESV is our official Bible version.

ESV Endorsements