It was back in 2000 when I came across something in my New Revised Standard Version Bible that disturbed me. It was in Isaiah, chapter 7, verse 14.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.
Disturbing. Everybody knows the word is “virgin”. And then I realized that it was the liberals at the NCC who did it. They were trying to do away with the virgin birth. They also got into Ephesians and got rid of predestination, too. I did some more research, finding quite a number of things that I believed “proved” the corruption of the NRSV text by the NCC in order to advance their liberal agenda, and I swore off ever using the NRSV again.
I went out and bought a NIV, and was very happy with it. I could understand it easily, and it was clearly agenda-free.
Then I heard that Zondervan was planning on bringing out a new NIV that replaced all the masculine references to God with neutral and feminine words, an obvious attempt to corrupt even my beloved NIV with another liberal agenda. I heard that they would be calling it the TNIV. I also heard that the one to buy was called the ESV, the English Standard Version. That one wouldn’t have any liberal agenda in it.
Well, fast-forward a few years, and we find that I have come to realize that the TNIV is not a liberal-agenda Bible after all. Instead, those evil people at the ESV had attacked the TNIV and Zondervan unfairly and scandalously, simply to deceive people into buying their ESV Bibles. So now I wouldn’t buy the ESV. I also discovered that the NRSV was actually a pretty decent translation.
A few months ago I wrote a piece in which I said that people shouldn’t be judging the motives of the translators of the different versions, because the fact is, they all are only trying to give us the very best translation possible. Of course, that’s pretty simplistic.
The time has come for me to extend that same forgiveness, in my mind at least, to the people behind the ESV. After all, it really is a very decent translation. Some of us disagree with their translation philosophy, and they do meet the Colorado Springs Guidelines. But after all, (all together now) “No translation is perfect!”
The fact is, I have been doing quite a bit of my Bible reading in the ESV lately. And oddly enough, I’m enjoying it! No, it’s not simple and easy-to-read like some of the other new translations. Yes, it really is based on the old RSV. But that is turning out to be a positive in my mind. While the NASB is more transparent to the original languages, the ESV is translated into more of a fine, classic English. It’s really a beautiful translation. And it does take a bit of a vocabulary to understand it. It helps to keep your Webster’s Unabridged handy. And some of the language is a bit archaic, though not much more than I have found in the NASB 1995 update. And it reads smoother than the NASB.
I’m even considering getting a nice ESV Bible to use as my main translation.
I’m going to make a real, concerted effort to not overreact and quickly condemn, as I have been accused of doing, and rightly so. I will try really hard to wait until I have the facts, give people the benefit of the doubt, recommend more easily and condemn much more carefully and slowly.
In my next post, I’ll tell you about the new ESV Bible I want to buy!