ESV Men’s Devotional Bible

ESVElegant. Helpful. Wooden.

ESV Men’s Devotional Bible
November 2015

This is a beautiful Bible. The text inside is tight, sharp black text with gold headings and highlights. Devotions take up a page (and if there is left over room it is left blank, making it obvious that this is not a part of the Bible.) Each devotion ends with directions to the next. The devotions are excellent as well. Each is theologically sound (from the evangelical perspective.) None that I read were overly simplistic in content or wording and none were overly positive, self focused either. Well done in my opinion.

According to Crossway, the publishers of the English Standard Version (ESV), this translation is “word for word” rather than “thought for thought” (like the NIV), which the translators of the ESV believe relies more on the interpretation of the scholars, thus making it less “essentially literal” than the ESV. There is no way, however, to translate idiom, cultural syntax and grammar without the interpreters having to be relied upon. Have you ever heard a joke from another country? If someone who was a native speaker and who also understood English had to interpret it for you then you understand that all translations – if they are to actually convey what the original writers meant – will have to have interpreters of thought as well as words.

An example 2 Peter 3:10-11 (the random passage/ verse of the day):

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives. (NIV)

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, (ESV)

While essentially the same words, the interpretation of the NIV correctly conveys the point of the passage: that judgment is coming and when it does how you lived will be judged. So you should be living holy and godly lives. The ESV is less clear in the resolution or focus of the passage (how we should live), in my opinion.

All that to say that the ESV, in my opinion, is a little too wooden literal and isn’t as good a translation as the NIV for those who want to read the Bible and understand it easily. But it isn’t a bad translation at all. The evangelical scholars involved did a good job in translation based on their criteria.

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Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

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