I don’t know about you, but I feel that Crossway books should feel very ashamed for their latest marketing video for the ESV.
Whatever the merits of the ESV, this sort of divisive approach is simply not worthy of a Christian publishing house. There are many factors which contribute to a good Bible translation and the ESV scores well in some of them and badly in others (as do all translations). To claim that any translation is ‘the best translation’ is just too simplistic for words. Just because some of these people are Christian super-stars, it doesn’t mean that they are experts on every subject – as this video clearly shows!
I’ve put links to a number of blog posts on this issue below. If you are interested in the subject, it is worth reading each of them and the ensuing comments. I’ll quote from two of them, in case you don’t want to follow the links.
Firstly, Stan McCullars (who uses the ESV) highlights the way in which the publishers and advocates of that translation have tended to be somewhat aggressive in their apporoach to other translations. He suggests that they would be far wiser to use an approach something like this:
“The ESV is a translation similar in style to the KJV but with modern language and translated using the latest manuscript evidence and scholarship. We believe it would be easy to transition from the KJV. If you’re currently using the NIV or NLT (or any of the other more thought for thought translations) we think the ESV would nicely complement your existing translation as you explore the riches of God’s Word. Just as in an abundance of counselors there is safety (Proverbs 11:14) so too there is safety in using several English translations.”
I thoroughly enjoyed the way in which one commentor here pointed out the message he took away from the video (in case I need to mention it; the comment is satirical).
I guess that what I learned from this video was that if you are a church leader then: (a) you should read the ESV — not Greek or Hebrew (presumably, because unlike those troublesome original languages, the ESV is trusted); and (b) you will also be stuck either limbo or solitary confinement, and you will spend the rest of your life in black room.
Another commenter did a thorough job of pointing out all of the hidden assumptions and unstated messages in the video.
For my own part, I wish that people would stop arguing about which English translation is best. The arguments are generally futile and, as in this video, uninformed. How good it would be to see John Piper, Francis Chan and the rest praising God for the blessing of having so many Bible translations in English and calling the Church to action for the millions of people who still don’t have a single word of Scripture. I can dream, can’t I?