“Pastor Todd, why do you use the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible?” That’s a good question that quite a few people have asked since I’ve been here at OCC. Let me start by saying that there are several great English translations of the Bible out there that seek to accurately translate the Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic texts. My parents bought me a New International Version (NIV) when I was in junior high. I used that translation of the Bible as my primary Bible until about six years ago. I’m greatly thankful for it’s impact in my life. “Why the switch?” you might ask. Let me give you a brief explanation.
There are a couple of different translation styles that our English translations fall into. The NIV translation style is called “Dynamic Equivalent” which seeks to translate the original languages into English in a way that is “thought-for-thought.” On the other hand, The ESV translation style is called “Essentially Literal” emphasizing a “word-for-word” approach to translation that seeks to not sacrifice the Bible’s intended readability. A drawback to the “Dynamic Equivalent” style is that the translation can often reflect the interpretive opinions of the translator. Therefore, as a pastor, the “word-for-word” approach is ultimately better in preaching and teaching because this style more closely represents the original languages as they were written. So, about six years ago I switched from the NIV to the ESV. I’ve enjoyed this switch, both personally and professionally.
This is not to say that other translations or translation styles are not good. Yet, in my preaching and teaching (and in my devotional life), I seek to understand and communicate God’s Word as accurately as I can and the ESV translation has been a great tool for accomplishing that goal. I’ve included a link to a well written free e-book by author and pastor Kevin DeYoung explaining why his church switched to using the ESV. You can download the PDF of this book here. By the way, I’m not advocating that everyone switch to the ESV – I just wanted to give anyone who was wondering an understanding as to why I use the ESV as opposed to the other translations out there. I hope you find this helpful.