But I just can’t do it. I just can’t adopt the ESV as my #1 Bible.
Sure, the ESV is a good translation, and it has the endorsement of many conservative theologians. Sure, it’s clearly in the Tyndale tradition and “sounds” like the Bible should sound. It’s a modern-language KJV translated from the better manuscipts – there’s nothing wrong with that! I can even be fairly comfortable with it. I can accept the fact that it is not a perfect translation, in the same way that none of the others are either. And Crossway has certainly done a bang-up job in marketing the ESV.
But when I get right down to it, I’m just not as comfortable with it as I am with my wonderful, trustworthy NASB. The NASB has opened up many of the finer details of the scriptures to my eyes. I use it for study; I use it for my own devotional reading; but I don’t use it for public reading very much. It’s not too good for that. The ESV would be good for public reading, but the NASB just isn’t written in English which pleases the ear. So I’m content to use it for my study and devotions instead.
Another place where the NASB seems to be better is in marketing large-print Bibles. It’s not easy to find ESVs that are true large-print, but it’s amazingly easy to find NASBs that are. The fact is, while my eyes seem to be relatively stable right now, I can’t reasonably expect them to stay that way for the rest of my life. While I can read an 8 point text, I’m really more comfortable with 11 or 12 point. It’s hard to find an ESV with print that’s larger than 9.5 or 10 points; and even so, any notes or references are usually 6 or 7 point, which is a failing that Crossway really needs to address.
Yes, ESV marketing is good and effective. They have some beautiful Bibles on the market. NASB doesn’t have the styles and colors that ESV has, but they’re improving, and their quality seems to be clearly superior to most of the ESVs out there. There are even a few NASBs using what appears to be a form of the fine new TruTone imitation leathers that are becoming so popular now.
If somebody wants a Bible that sounds like a Bible, i.e. it sounds like a modern KJV – and there are a lot of people out there who want that – I’ll recommend the ESV. I think it has its place. I can recommend other translations for other people as well. But for me, to be perfectly honest, it’s back to that wonderful, transparent, trustworthy NASB!