Do you find reading the Bible difficult? You are not alone!
The Bible was originally written in Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew, but today it is available in more than 700 languages. English is, of course, one of them. For most people, ESV Bibles (English Standard Version Bibles) is the easiest version of the Bibles to read because they adhere to an “essentially literal” translation philosophy. Don’t know what it is? Read on!
There have been three main translation philosophies used for translating Bible:
Functional Equivalence (Thought-for-thought)
These translations convey the meaning of the Bible as closely as possible, the author’s thought. Unlike word-for-word translation, the emphasis on summing up the Bible, the meaning the author intends takes precedence over the structure of the original Biblical language. This means that the translators evaluate a series of words from the Bible that comprise a thought and then express that thought in the target language. Popular functional equivalence include- BBE, CSB, CEB, JCB, CEV.
Formal Equivalence (Word-for-word)
These translations emphasize ‘word-for-word’ accuracy. The translators try to reproduce the accurate wording of the real text written in Biblical languages and the writer’s style. Thus, these translations seem to be the exact copy of the original text, letting the readers know the words and the structure used by the person to convey those words. Popular formal equivalence translations include- ESV, ASV, AMP, NASB, KJV.
Optimal Equivalence (Idea-for-idea)
These are also called Paraphrased Bible translations. If you are new to reading or the faith, these bibles would be an excellent pick for you. These are designed to help the readers understand the meaning of Gods’ words better. In these translations, phrases are elaborated to describe the importance of the words more fully. Popular translations of Optimal Equivalence include- GNB, TLB, MSG, TPT.
However, in most expositional teaching, the Formal equivalence translation of Bibles (especially ESV) is only used. This is because it clearly explains the meaning of the original Bible text in its historical and grammatical context, with application in the present-day context. Furthermore, ESV tries to retain the strength of the NASB’s (New American Standard Bible) formal translation while at the same time soothing out the word choice and order so that it can be more easily read and understood publicly and privately.
Nine key facts about ESV Bibles
- The words of the Bible are the actual words of God; this was the motivating force behind the publication of the ESV translations in 2001.
- Over the past half-millennium, it stands in the classic mainstream of English Bible Translations. It has been carefully weighed against the original biblical text to ensure accuracy and clarity.
- It was drafted by a team of more than 100 evangelical scholars. There were 14 members in the Translation Oversight Committee, more than 50 Translation Review Scholars, and more than 50 members in the Advisory Council.
- It carries forward classic translation principles in the real literary style. This means it retains theological terminology: faith, grace, sanctification, regeneration, justification, propitiation, reconciliation, etc.; these words have central importance for Christian doctrine.
- In gender language, the ESV aims to render literal meaning of the real text. For instance, the word ‘brothers’ is retained as a familial form of address between Christians and fellow Jews.
- ESV Bibles takes great care to convey nuance in terms of Biblical language in the translation of words referring to God,
- It is based on well-attested Greek and Hebrew manuscripts.
- It is endorsed by dozens of evangelical leaders, pastors, scholars and used by Christians and churches worldwide.
- It was ultimately created to honour God and preach to Christians around the world.