English Standard Version

"ESV" redirects here. For other uses, see ESV (disambiguation).
English Standard Version
Full name English Standard Version
Abbreviation ESV
Complete Bible
2001 (revisions in 2007, 2011 and 2016); Apocrypha 2009
Derived from RSV—1971 Revision
Textual basis
Translation type Formal Equivalence
Reading level 8.0[2]
Version revision
  • 2007
  • 2011
  • 2016
Publisher Crossway Bibles
Copyright 2001: Crossway Bibles, a ministry of the Good News Publishers of Wheaton, Illinois, U.S.; Apocrypha 2009 by Oxford University Press.

The English Standard Version (ESV) is an English translation of the Christian Bible. It is a revision of the 1971 edition of the Revised Standard Version[3] that employs an "essentially literal" translation philosophy.[4]


Work on this translation was prompted, in the early 1990s, by what Lane T. Dennis stated was a need for a new literal translation by scholars and pastors.[5] A translation committee was formed, and it sought and received permission from the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA to use the 1971 edition of the RSV as the English textual basis for the ESV. About 6 percent was revised in the ESV.[6]

Translation philosophy

The stated intent of the translators was to follow an "essentially literal" translation philosophy while taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages.[7] The ESV uses some gender-neutral language.[8]


In 2007, the ESV underwent a minor revision, and the publisher did not identify the updated text as a revised edition. The update changed about 500 words by focusing on grammar, consistency, and clarity.[9] One notable change was from "wounded for our transgressions" to "pierced for our transgressions".[9]

In April 2011, another edition was issued,[9] and the 2007 edition has been gradually phased out.[10]

In August 2016, Crossway announced the "ESV Permanent Text Edition" with 52 word changes[11] in 29 verses. The publishers announced their intention to leave the text alone for the foreseeable future after this update.[12][13] However, this policy was abandoned as a "mistake" the following month, with Crossway announcing that they would still consider "minimal and infrequent" updates to reflect "textual discoveries or changes in English over time". Lane Dennis, Crossway's president and CEO, said: "We apologize for this and for any concern this has caused for readers of the ESV [...] Our desire, above all, is to do what is right before the Lord."[14]


The publisher, citing that the ESV has been growing in popularity, authorized an edition of the ESV with the Biblical apocrypha included, which was developed by Oxford University Press and published in January 2009.[15] The publisher's hope for this new edition which includes the Apocrypha is that it will be used widely in seminaries and divinity schools where these books are used as a part of academic study.[16]

The ESV version of the Apocrypha 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.[15] 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.[15]


The ESV has been used as the text of a number of study Bibles, including:

Additionally, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod adopted the ESV as the official text used in its official hymnal Lutheran Service Book, released in August 2006.[23]


Mark L. Strauss, in a paper presented at the 2008 annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, criticized the ESV for using dated language and stated it is unsuited for mainstream use.[6] On the other hand, he has defended gender-inclusive language in translation and claims the ESV uses similar gender-inclusive language and speculated that criticism of the ESV by competing Bible translations is contrived for marketing purposes.[6] ESV translator Wayne Grudem has responded that, while on occasion the ESV translates person or one where previous translations used man, it keeps gender-specific language and does not go as far as other translations; the ESV website makes a similar statement. ESV translator William D. Mounce has called these arguments against the ESV ad hominem.[24]

Criticism has arisen in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which uses the ESV as its official translation, that its frequent translation of the Hebrew word mishpatim ("judgements" or "decrees") as "rules" is not only an impoverished translation of a very rich word, but also somewhat legalistic.


  1. Clontz & Clontz (2008, Preface) ranks the English Standard Version in sixth place in a comparison of twenty-one translations, at 83% correspondence to the Nestle-Aland 27th ed.
  2. Rose Publishing 2006
  3. Stec 2004, p. 421
  4. Decker, Rodney (2004), "The English Standard Version: A Review Article" (PDF), The Journal of Ministry & Theology, 8 (2): 5–31
  5. Crossway Staff 2006
  6. 1 2 3 Strauss 2008
  7. Crossway Bibles 2011, p. VII
  8. Decker, Rodney (2004), "The English Standard Version: A Review Article" (PDF), The Journal of Ministry & Theology, 8 (2): 16–17
  9. 1 2 3 Dennis 2011
  10. Butterfield, Glen (2013). Bible Unity. WestBowPress. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-4908-0549-8.
  11. "ESV Permanent Text Edition (2016): Word Changes". ESV.org.
  12. "Forums: ESV Permanent Text Edition, Free Update". AccordanceBible.com.
  13. "UPDATE: 2016 ESV Permanent Text Edition". UPDATE: 2016 ESV Permanent Text Edition. August 3, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  14. Weber, Jeremy (September 28, 2016). "Theology: Crossway Reverses Decision to Make ESV Bible Text Permanent (Amid much public debate, publisher says strategy for a 'stable' Bible was a 'mistake')". Christianity Today (September 2016).
  15. 1 2 3 Oxford University Press 2009, p. 1177
  16. Oxford University Press 2012
  17. Concordia Publishing House (October 31, 2009), The Lutheran Study Bible: English Standard Version, Concordia Publishing House, ISBN 978-0-7586-1760-6, retrieved December 7, 2012
  18. ESV Global Study Bible. Crossway. ISBN 978-1-4335-3567-3.
  19. ESV Study Bible, HarperCollins Publishers Limited, April 14, 2011, ISBN 978-0-00-743766-5, retrieved December 7, 2012
  20. Crossway Bibles (August 10, 2010), The Macarthur Study Bible: English Standard Version, Good News Publisher, ISBN 978-1-4335-0400-6, retrieved December 7, 2012
  21. Sproul, R C, ed. (July 1, 2008), Reformation Study Bible (ESV), P & R Publishing Company, ISBN 978-1-59638-136-0, retrieved December 7, 2012
  22. Oxford University Press (March 2, 2006), The Scofield Study Bible: English Standard Version, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-527877-4, retrieved December 7, 2012
  23. Concordia Publishing House (January 1, 2005), Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House, pp. Copyright Page, ISBN 978-0-7586-1218-2, retrieved December 7, 2012
  24. Mounce 2011


External links

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