English Standard Version

The English Standard Version (ESV) is an English translation of the Holy Bible. The first edition was published in 2001 by Crossway Books, who also owns the copyright to the text.


Work on this translation began with discontent (largely amongst Evangelical Christians) over the perceived looseness of style and content of recently-published English Bible translations, as well as the apparent trend toward gender-neutral language in translations such as the TNIV and the New Revised Standard Version, among others.

In 1997, Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family called together a meeting of individuals concerned with these issues, and from it came the "Colorado Springs Guidelines": a set of translation principles that ruled out the use of gender–neutral language. After this, permission was sought, and granted, from the National Council of Churches to use the 1971 revision of the RSV as the English textual basis for the ESV.

Translation philosophy

In their own words, the translators of the ESV sought to follow an "essentially literal" translation philosophy. To that end, they sought as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer, while taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages. The result is a translation that is more literal than the popular New International Version, but more idiomatic than the New American Standard Bible (which is commonly known as the most literal of the modern translations).

Textual basis

First and foremost, the ESV is an update of the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of 1971 that aims to replace the non-Christian interpretations in the RSV, improve the accuracy throughout with more literal renderings, and somewhat update the language.

When necessary to translate difficult passages, the translators referred to the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 2nd edition, to the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament, 4th corrected edition, and to the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th edition. In a few exceptionally difficult cases, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Syriac Peshitta, the Latin Vulgate, and other sources were consulted to shed possible light on the text, or, if necessary, to support a divergence from the Masoretic text.

Impact and growth

Since its release in 2001, the ESV has been well-received by both individual Christians and churches in the English-speaking world, especially in conservative Reformed and Presbyterian circles.

In February 2005, the first study Bible using the ESV text was released. The Reformation Study Bible was published by Ligonier Ministries with R. C. Sproul, a prominent Reformed theologian, author, and pastor, as its General Editor.

In October 2008, Crossway Books released "The ESV Study Bible," a completely new work. Within the first three months of publication the book sold out of its original run and had to undergo an additional printing.