ESV Updates – Too Frequent for my Purposes

05 Jul

In 2007, as a family we went through a purposeful process to choose a Bible translation. You can read a summary of my goals and our process here.

In 2011, I saw this video which was going around the Internet at the time, but didn’t really think much of the content of the rest of the blog post.

However, recently I saw another link to the same video.

Keep in mind, since our first purchase of ESVs for our family in 2007, I have purchased ESV Study Bibles for my wife & I as well as new Bibles for our two oldest children.

In addition, I use the ESV App on my iPad/iPhone. I have the ESV Study Bible in my Olive Tree App. I use the ESV online regularly. And my wife & children use Desiring God’s Fighter Verse App for memorisation which uses the ESV.

All of this has added up to a level of frustration.

As you can see in my post from 2007, one of the main goals in choosing a Bible translation for our family was consistency. I believed then and still believe now that there is great benefit that comes from consistency.

However, we are now, regularly experiencing inconsistency even though we are all using the ESV.

Come to find out there are three ESV texts (at least) 2003, 2007, & 2011. Four years between each.

One difficulty is that you cannot readily tell which “version” of the ESV you have. They all say simply ESV. It is only on the copyright page where you find a small note regarding “Text Version:.”

I find this all very unhelpful. It isn’t that I am opposed to new English versions or even necessary updates. I am just not convinced that the frequency or many of the updates is really necessary. I am certainly convinced that it is not helpful.

As a church, in a short period of time we find ourselves with two to three different “versions” of pew Bibles though we selected a pew translation partly for consistency.

As a family we already have two to three different “versions” (print and electronic) in our home though they are all technically ESVs.

As a result we have invested hundreds of dollars with a desire to have the benefit of a consistent translation in our home and church only to find ourselves reading the Bible together or attempting to memorise Scripture and each of our ESVs not matching.

Though I do not prefer the NIV as a translation, I do appreciate their clarity and transparency in introducing new updates. It is easy to tell if you have a 1984, TNIV, or 2011. In addition though there wasn’t a large number of years between the TNIV and 2011, they are still a far cry from three different editions in eight years.

Though I am thankful for the ESV and have benefited greatly from their online resources along with the Study Bible, I am very reluctant to continue investing in ESV Bibles because I have no certainty that the next one I purchase will be the same as the last one.


5 responses to “ESV Updates – Too Frequent for my Purposes

  1. Brendon Ward

    05/07/2013 at 2:14 pm

    … I take it your not a KJV1611 only advocate. That hasn’t changed for 400 years. Or has it 😉

    • Joe Fleener

      05/07/2013 at 2:16 pm

      It has actually. Though I think the last time was 1878. I have been tempted to go back to it. 🙂

  2. Bruce Hoyt

    05/07/2013 at 3:29 pm

    How major are the changes? a word here and there, or whole phrases changed?

    • Joe Fleener

      05/07/2013 at 3:43 pm

      The changes are mostly at the word level. Generally ones which would be considered minor. To me that’s all the more reason to leave it alone. At least for longer the fours years at a time.

  3. Bruce Hoyt

    05/07/2013 at 4:21 pm

    Yes, I agree with you. And our churches use “synodically approved Bible versions” and these frequent changes make such approval very difficult. Some in the (continental) Reformed circle of churches are thinking we need a translation that is done by a group of churches committed to a stable long-term translation.


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