English Standard Version

What is the English Standard Version (ESV)?

The English Standard Version (ESV) is an English-language translation of the Christian Bible. The ESV is a revision of the 1971 edition of the Revised Standard Version (RSV), although not an "update." The purpose of the ESV is to give an "essentially literal" version of the Old and New Testaments, while taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original Greek and Hebrew languages.

In the 1990's Dr. Lane T. Dennis recognized the need for a new translation of the Bible produced by pastors and scholars that was essentially literal in nature. A translation committee was formed, which eventually got permission from the National Council of Churches to use the 1971 edition of the RSV as the English textual basis for the ESV. About 6% was revised in the ESV.

ESV "Update"

The ESV underwent a minor revision in 2007. The publisher chose not to identify the updated text as a second or revised edition. It was intended to replace the original ESV under the original name. Another edition which changed about 500 words focused on grammar, consistency and clarity.

The most notable verse change was "wounded for our transgressions" to "pierced for our transgressions" in Isaiah 53:5, matching the New American Standard Bible rendering. This edition was issued in April 2011. The 2007 edition has been gradually phased out in its favor. (Learn more about the New American Standard Bible here.)

The publisher cites the fact that the ESV "has been growing in popularity among students in biblical studies, mainline Christian scholars, clergy, and Evangelical Christians of all denominations." An edition of the ESV with the Biblical apocrypha was developed by Oxford University Press and published in January, 2009. The publisher's hope for this new edition with Apocrypha is that it will be used widely in seminaries and divinity schools where these books are used in academic study. (Learn more about the Apocrypha here.)

The Apocrypha

The books of the Protestant apocrypha are called the deuterocanonical books or anagignoskomena by Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox. They are not to be confused with writings called "apocrypha" by Catholics and Orthodox, such as 1 Enoch, 4 Esdras, the Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah. The ESV version is a revision of the Revised Standard Version 1977 Expanded Edition. The team translating the Apocrypha includes Bernard A. Taylor, David A. deSilva, and Dan McCartney, under the editorship of David Aiken.

In the edition including these books, they are printed and arranged in the order of the RSV and NRSV Common Bibles. The Oxford translating team relied on the Göttingen Septuagint for all of the Apocrypha except 4 Maccabees (relying there on Rahlf's Septuagint) and 2 Esdras (the Ancient Greek of which has not survived), which used the German Bible Society's 1983 edition Vulgate.

ESV Theme-Bibles

The ESV has been used as the text of a number of study Bibles, including the Scofield Study Bible III (an update and revision of the classic dispensational premillennialist Scofield Reference Bible), the Reformation Study Bible, the ESV Study Bible, the MacArthur Study Bible and The Lutheran Study Bible. The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod adopted the ESV as the official text used in its official hymnal Lutheran Service Book, released in August 2006.


1. Wikipedia, used under GDFL (with minor edits)