English Standard Version

The ESV is an "essentially literal" translation

English Standard Version (ESV)
Bill Fairchild

The English Standard Version (ESV) was first published in 2001 and is considered an "essentially literal" translation. As a revision of the Revised Standard Version, the ESV traces back to the Tyndale New Testament of 1526 and the King James Version of 1611.

Fast Facts: English Standard Version

  • Full Name: English Standard Version
  • Abbreviation: ESV
  • Summary: The English Standard Version is an "essentially literal" translation of the Bible in contemporary English.
  • Emphasis: Word-for-word accuracy
  • Derived From: 1971 Revised Standard Version
  • Reading Level: 8th Grade
  • Release Date: 2001
  • Revisions: 2007, 2011, 2009 (with Apocrypha), and 2016
  • Publisher: Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
  • Goal: “In that [classic] stream, faithfulness to the text and vigorous pursuit of precision were combined with simplicity, beauty, and dignity of expression. Our goal has been to carry forward this legacy for this generation and generations to come.”

Purpose of the English Standard Version

The vision for the English Standard Version Bible began in the early 1990s when many evangelical leaders felt a new "word-for-word" Bible translation was needed, a translation that would be characterized by accuracy and literary excellence, in the classic style of the Tyndale New Testament and the King James Bible.

The English Standard Version seeks to faithfully capture the precise word-for-word meaning of the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic languages. Not only did the creators of the ESV make every attempt to ensure accuracy, transparency, and clarity of the original texts, they also sought to retain the personal style of each writer of the Bible. Archaic language was brought to current readability and usage for Bible readers of today.

Quality of Translation

More than 100 international Bible experts representing several different denominations worked together on the original English Standard Version translation team. Each scholar shared a strong commitment to "historic evangelical orthodoxy, and to the authority and sufficiency of the inerrant Scriptures." Every five years the ESV Bible text is carefully reviewed.

The ESV translation reflects the renewed respect among present-day Old Testament scholars for the Masoretic text. Wherever possible, the ESV attempts to translate difficult Hebrew passages as they stand in the Masoretic text (Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia; 2nd edition, 1983) rather than resorting to corrections or alterations.

In particularly difficult passages, the ESV translation team consulted the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Syriac Peshitta, the Latin Vulgate, and other sources to bring possible clarity or deeper understanding to the text, or, if necessary, to support a deviation from the Masoretic text. In certain difficult New Testament passages, the ESV has followed a Greek text different from the text given preference in the UBS/Nestle-Aland 27th edition.

Footnotes in the ESV communicate to the reader textual variations and difficulties and show how these have been resolved by the ESV translation team. In addition, the footnotes indicate significant alternative readings and occasionally provide an explanation for technical terms or for difficult reading in the text.

Copyright Information

"ESV" and "English Standard Version" are trademarks of Good News Publishers. Use of either trademark requires the permission of Good News Publishers.

When quotations from the ESV text are used in non-saleable media, such as church bulletins, orders of service, posters, transparencies, or similar media, a complete copyright notice is not required, but the initials (ESV) must appear at the end of the quotation.

Publication of any commentary or other Bible reference work produced for commercial sale that uses the English Standard Version must include written permission for use of the ESV text.

Permission requests that exceed the above guidelines must be directed to Good News Publishers, Attn: Bible Rights, 1300 Crescent Street, Wheaton, IL 60187, USA.

Permission requests for use within the UK and EU that exceed the above guidelines must be directed to HarperCollins Religious, 77-85 Fulham Palace Road, HammerSmith, London W6 8JB, England.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.

Good News Publishers (including Crossway Bibles) is a not-for-profit organization that exists solely for the purpose of publishing the good news of the gospel and the truth of God's Word, the Bible.

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Your Citation
Fairchild, Mary. "English Standard Version." Learn Religions, Feb. 16, 2021, learnreligions.com/english-standard-version-bible-700661. Fairchild, Mary. (2021, February 16). English Standard Version. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/english-standard-version-bible-700661 Fairchild, Mary. "English Standard Version." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/english-standard-version-bible-700661 (accessed May 30, 2023).