The English Standard Version

Explanation by Dr. Vern S. Poythress

The English Standard Version is an essentially literal translation. It strives to preserve the actual wording of the original whenever this accurately conveys the meaning, but also strives to preserve the literary excellence and readability associated with the historic English Bible tradition represented by the KJV and RSV.


· Every verse has been checked for accuracy to the original languages by evangelical scholars with special expertise in each book.
· Inerrantist evangelicals make up the translation team.
· The ESV is a conservative revision of the RSV that fixes the theological problems associated with the latter.
· Theological vocabulary and complexity of thought follow the original, rather than being artificially limited in order to make it easy for beginning readers.
· Where more than one reasonable interpretive option exists, the ESV has tried to preserve the options by an English rendering that allows for them all; or, where this is not possible, has put the more probable option in the text and included the other option(s) in a footnote.
· ESV endeavors to represent the autographic text as accurately as can be determined by textual criticism. It usually follows the MT in the OT and the standard Greek text of UBS in the NT, but there are a few exceptions in difficult cases.
· Footnotes are added in cases where textual variations create significant uncertainty and affect meaning.
· Key thematic words that reoccur throughout a book or a number of books have, where feasible, been translated consistently, so that concordant relations and thematic relations between passages are more evident in English. NT quotations from the OT have been checked to make sure that the correspondence is as clear in English as in the original.

Literary excellence

· The ESV preserves cadences and poetic diction of poetic portions, such as characterized the KJV and the RSV.
· It preserves where feasible the familiarity of the historic English Bible tradition from Tyndale, Geneva, KJV, RV, ASV, and RSV.

Contemporary English

· Obsolete English has been replaced (for example, no “thee” or “thou” is left).
· English words that have changed meaning over time have been inspected to see whether they need replacement.
· Male meanings in the original have been preserved in translation, but the expression “any man” has been replaced by “anyone” when the latter is the meaning of the original. The ESV is not “gender-neutral,” but conforms to the Colorado Springs Guidelines on the issue of gender in English.