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Book Review: The ESV and the English Bible Legacy by Leland Ryken

The ESV or English Standard Version was published in 2001. I bought a Crossway Study Bible in this version October 31, 2008. I'd read this Bible and used it to study sometimes. I'd also read most of the additional information in the study Bible such as: Interpreting the Scripture, The Canon of Scripture, Biblical Ethics: An Overview, and God's Plan of Salvation. These are just a few examples of additional information in this wonderful study Bible. I always had the Bible sitting next to my reading chair. But, it was not my primary Bible for reading and studying. I was still holding on to my Zondervan NIV--New International Version Study Bible. My latest version published 2008. In 1990 I took Old Testament and later New Testament in college, it was at this time I was introduced to the NIV. All these years I loved my NIV translation. I was possibly too comfortable in this translation.
After reading The ESV and the English Bible Legacy by Leland Ryken; I made a decision to put aside, at least on the book shelf, my NIV Bible. The Crossway ESV Study Bible is now my main Bible for reading and studying.

Ryland's main theme throughout the book is, "The ESV is the Bible in the tradition and legacy of Tyndale and the King James Version.

There were 2 important points I will review on. 
1. The ESV is a "literal translation that preserves the full exegetical potential of Biblical text."
2. The translators of the King James Bible believed that what one believes about Scripture governs everything.

William Tyndale had dreamed that people would be able to read God's Word as literal and accurate and readable as possible. Tyndale wanted English speaking Christians to know God's Word, and to not depend on what someone else told them was in the Bible. The Tyndale Bible (NT) was published in 1525 but was banned. The copies that were in England had to be smuggled in.
Later when the King James Version was published 1611, this translation was freely available to all.
The translators of these Bibles were most keen on a Bible that would be a literal and yet readable Bible.
The translators felt as if they were stewards, not an editor or commenter free to change or add.
"English Bible translations from the era of the Reformation were rooted in the translators' views of the Bible. Starting with the premise that the Bible in its original form was verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit, translators viewed the words of the Hebrew and Greek text as fixed and authoritative. The goal of translation was to bring a reader as close as possible to what the Biblical authors actually wrote."page 35
There is included on page 45 a summary of the "convictions and procedure of the first English translators of the Bible."
Leland Ryken explains on: the Wycliffe Bible, the Latin Vulgate, papal church beliefs, modern translations of the Bible, rhythm and flow of language and reading the Bible orally, and ancient text versions that were studied.
The "ESV aligns itself with the King James tradition." Meaning, "any passage we read we are given an English equivalent word or phrase for everything in the original text."
Ryland states strongly, "all translations are not equal." And further, "a thought for thought translation is more likely to reflect interpretative opinions, and influences of contemporary culture."
I was grateful that Ryland gave many Scripture variations from a variety of translations, comparing them. I along with him studied these Scriptures to see for myself their differences. 

I feel fully confident after reading this exhaustive and edifying book that I've made the correct choice in making the ESV Bible my main Bible of choice.

I'm hoping that tomorrow I'll be posting another great book on the history of the Bible and textual criticism, entitled: How We Got The Bible by Neil Lightfoot.

Thank you to Crossway for my free review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Masoretic Text

Leland Ryken (PhD, University of Oregon) is Professor of English at Wheaton College. He has authored or edited several books, including The Word of God in English, The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, and The Complete Literary Guide to the Bible. He is a frequent speaker at the Evangelical Theological Society and served as literary stylist for The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.

Published by Crossway November 30, 2011
Link @ Publisher:
At bottom of page on the above link is a down-loadable file for an excerpt. 
192 pages
Christian Non-Fiction/Bible Translation/History of English Bible/English Standard Version

Link @ Christian Book:
Paperback $9.49
eBook $9.59

Blissful Reading!


Becky said…
I knew you were planning on reviewing this one, and you inspired me to pick up the Leland Ryken I owned, a book about the "essentially literal" translation process. After reading your review, I know I need to get this one too!!! It sounds wonderful!