The ESV Translation

The English Standard Version (ESV) stands in the classic mainstream of English Bible translations over the past half-millennium. The fountainhead of that stream was William Tyndale's New Testament of 1526; marking its course were the King James Version of 1611 (KJV), the English Revised Version of 1885 (RV), the American Standard Version of 1901 (ASV), and the Revised Standard Version of 1952 and 1971 (RSV). In that stream, faithfulness to the text and vigorous pursuit of accuracy were combined with simplicity, beauty, and dignity of expression. Their goal has been to carry forward this legacy for a new century.

Word for Word

The English Standard Version (ESV) is an "essentially literal" translation of the Bible in contemporary English. Created by a team of more than 100 leading evangelical scholars and pastors, the ESV Bible emphasizes "word-for-word" accuracy, literary excellence, and depth of meaning. Since its publication in 2001, the ESV Bible has gained wide acceptance and is used by church leaders, numerous denominations and organizations, and millions of individuals around the world. The ESV is equally suited for public reading and preaching, for private reading and reflection, for both academic and devotional study, and for Scripture memorization.

The ESV seeks as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer. As such, its emphasis is on "word-for-word" correspondence, at the same time taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages. Thus it seeks to be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the original.

In contrast to the ESV, some Bible versions have followed a "thought-for-thought" rather than "word-for-word" translation philosophy, emphasizing "dynamic equivalence" rather than the "essentially literal" meaning of the original. A "thought-for-thought" translation is of necessity more inclined to reflect the interpretive opinions of the translator and the influences of contemporary culture.

Every translation is at many points a trade-off between literal precision and readability, between "formal equivalence" in expression and "functional equivalence" in communication, and the ESV is no exception. Within this framework we have sought to be "as literal as possible" while maintaining clarity of expression and literary excellence.

Therefore, to the extent that plain English permits and the meaning in each case allows, we have sought to use the same English word for important recurring words in the original; and, as far as grammar and syntax allow, we have rendered Old Testament passages cited in the New in ways that show their correspondence. Thus in each of these areas, as well as throughout the Bible as a whole, we have sought to capture the echoes and overtones of meaning that are so abundantly present in the original texts.

As an essentially literal translation, then, the ESV seeks to carry over every possible nuance of meaning in the original words of Scripture into our own language. As such, it is ideally suited for in-depth study of the Bible.

“We are building all our future ministry around the ESV….The ESV satisfies the preaching, memorizing, studying, and reading needs of our church, from children to adults.”
John Piper, Founder and Teacher, desiringGod.org; Chancellor, Bethlehem College & Seminary; author, Desiring God

“I love the ESV not only because of the scholarship behind it and the accuracy of the translation, but also because it’s a very readable version.”
Matt Chandler, Pastor, The Village Church

“I highly recommend the English Standard Version to you.”
Joni Eareckson Tada, Founder and President, Joni and Friends

“Having now read through the ESV several times in my personal devotional life, I have adopted it as the primary text for my teaching and writing ministry. I appreciate… the ESV [because it] retains theological terminology that is at the heart of the Christian faith and exercises care and precision in the translation of nuances and gender language, so as to preserve a text that is as faithful as possible to the original. By the same token, the translators have maintained clarity and literary excellence, making this an accessible translation for modern readers. My hope is that the ESV will draw millions of people into the reading and study of God’s Word and into a more intimate relationship with the God of the Word.”
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author; host, Revive Our Hearts radio

“I’ve been using the ESV for my personal study since it was released. Then I began to preach from it. Then our congregation switched over to it. I hope others will do the same. The ESV is the simply the best translation for combining accuracy, readability, and fidelity to the rich history of English Bible translation. I thank God for the ESV and pray that it will be the new standard in English Bibles for years to come.”
Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, Christ Covenant Church, Matthews, North Carolina

For more information about the ESV, visit ESV.org/translation

For more information on the history of the ESV translation, visit https://www.crossway.org/articles/the-history-of-the-english-standard-version