But a reading-slot opened up in my schedule that perfect for something brief and relatively light, and ever since reading DeYoung's truly wonderful Just Do Something (which I even reference in the Proverbs book), I'm an admirer. So I gave it a go.
I'm glad I did. Why Our Church Switched to the ESV was a good read: crisp, informative, and to the point. DeYoung was facing the decision, as a pastor, of guiding his church in purchasing new Bibles for the pews. They had been using and liking the NIV, which DeYoung says several times that he regards as a usable, respectable version. In other words, unlike me, he wasn't predisposed to dislike it.
DeYoung sets forth and explains seven reasons why he prefers the ESV and recommended it to the church:
- The ESV employs an "essentially literal" translation philosophy.
- The ESV is a more transparent translation.
- The ESV engages in less over-translation.
- The ESV engages in less under-translation.
- The ESV does a better job of translating important Greek or Hebrew words with the same English word throughout a passage or book.
- The ESV retains more of the literary qualities of the Bible.
- The ESV requires much less "correcting" in preaching.
DeYoung makes clear that the ESV/NIV difference in these regards is often one of degree rather than a chasm, but the ESV leans one way, while the NIV leans the other. Thus, by using the ESV, DeYoung doesn't have to devote a large portion of a sermon explaining why the text which the church put in people's hands is basically wrong — thus leading them to think they simply can't trust their Bibles half the time — and more time preaching the text.
DeYoung recommends the ESV for church and personal use, and I recommend DeYoung. So I guess that makes me a second-degree ESV-recommender.
For instance, working in Proverbs, two of the ESV behaviors that frustrated me were: (1) like all English translations, it renders about three different Hebrew words as "fool" — I wish some version would break from the pack; and (2) there and often when the ESV has a poor rendering, you check and find they've just echoed the RSV without re-examination. And then, in other cases, they're just odd and by-themselves, as I encountered in preparing to teach on Genesis 49:10 at the coming conference. Here (oddly) the ESV goes with NRSV in a translation-decision that hasn't convinced many evangelicals, including me.
What's my version-preference? It would probably be an impossible hybrid between ESV, CSB, NKJ, NAS and Modern Language Bible, in around that order, with the first and second choices nearly neck-and-neck. Plus, some modern Bible-believing translation simply has to break out of the traditionalistic and indefensible "LORD/GOD" superstition, and show respect for the name God chose for Himself (see further here, here, here and here, if you like).
Not that I have an opinion, mind you.
I find that, when I like the CSB, I really like it. They aren't afraid to be independent, and often in doing so in my judgment they get the text just right. Yet there are simple oddities which make the CSB seem, at other times, not-ready-for-prime-time. A glaring example would be their whimsical use of both "Messiah" and "Christ" to render christos in the NT, sometimes in the same passage, and even in consecutive verses (e.g. Ephesians 2:5-20 — absolutely baffling)!
So: use the ESV, and have a pastor who knows and uses Greek and Hebrew.
But, in the immortal words of Alistair Cookie, "Me digress."