English Standard Version

The English Standard Version (ESV) is an English translation of the Bible published in 2001 by Crossway. It is a revision of the Revised Standard Version[3] that employs an "essentially literal" translation philosophy.[4]

English Standard Version
Full nameEnglish Standard Version
Complete Bible
2001 (revisions in 2007, 2011, and 2016); Apocrypha 2009 (revision in 2017)
Derived fromRSV—1971 Revision
Textual basis
Translation typeFormal Equivalence
Reading level8.0[2]
Version revision
  • 2007
  • 2011
  • 2016
  • 2017 (Apocrypha)
PublisherCrossway Bibles
CopyrightThe Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.


Work on this translation was prompted, in the early 1990s, by what the publisher, Crossway Books, 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 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.[4]


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.[8] One notable change was from "wounded for our transgressions" to "pierced for our transgressions".[8]

In April 2011, another edition was issued, involving 275 verses and less than 500 words. The publisher announced the intention of the changes were to correct grammar, improve consistency or increase precision in meaning.[8] The 2007 edition has been gradually phased out.[9]

In August 2016, Crossway announced the "ESV Permanent Text Edition" with 52 word changes[10] in 29 verses. The publishers announced their intention to leave the text alone for the foreseeable future after this update.[11][12] However, this policy was abandoned 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."[13]


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

The ESV version of the Deuterocanonicals is a revision of the Revised Standard Version 1977 Expanded Edition. The team translating the Deuterocanonicals includes Bernard A. Taylor, David A. deSilva, and Dan McCartney, under the editorship of David Aiken. 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 Deuterocanonicals 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.

On 4 February 2018, the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India released the English Standard Version Catholic Edition which includes the Deuterocanonicals.[14] On 20 June 2019, Anglican Liturgy Press released the ESV: Anglican Edition featuring the Apocrypha in the back. The text of the Apocrypha has been updated from the original 2009 version.[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. Although, “judgements” and “rules” are understood in similitude like “decrees” and “laws” are understood in similitude.


  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): 16–17
  5. Crossway Staff 2006
  6. Strauss 2008
  7. Crossway Bibles 2011, p. VII
  8. Dennis 2011
  9. Butterfield 2013, p. 42.
  10. "ESV Permanent Text Edition (2016): Word Changes". ESV.org. Archived from the original on August 20, 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  11. "Forums: ESV Permanent Text Edition, Free Update". AccordanceBible.com.
  12. "UPDATE: 2016 ESV Permanent Text Edition". UPDATE: 2016 ESV Permanent Text Edition. August 3, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  13. 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).
  14. "Catholic Edition of ESV Bible Launched". Daijiworld. February 10, 2018.
  15. "ESV with Apocrpyha". June 6, 2019.
  16. The Lutheran Study Bible: English Standard Version, Concordia Publishing House, 2009, ISBN 978-0-7586-1760-6
  17. The Apocrypha: The Lutheran Edition with Notes, Concordia Publishing House, August 28, 2012, ISBN 978-0758625472, retrieved December 7, 2012
  18. ESV Global Study Bible. Crossway. ISBN 978-1-4335-3567-3.
  19. ESV Study Bible, HarperCollins Publishers Limited, 2011, ISBN 978-0-00-743766-5
  20. The Macarthur Study Bible: English Standard Version, Good News Publisher, August 10, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4335-0400-6
  21. Sproul 2008.
  22. The Scofield Study Bible: English Standard Version, Oxford University Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-19-527877-4
  23. Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House, 2005, pp. Copyright Page, ISBN 978-0-7586-1218-2
  24. Mounce 2011


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