ESV w/Apocrypha from Anglican Liturgy Press

Sort of. Here is the thing, over the years I have been critical and somewhat bewildered by how some Catholics have become desirous of an ESV Catholic Edition. It is a reality now, and I would imagine there will be more editions of it available in the future. I have stated in a few places that I see no real advantage it has over the RSV-CE or NRSV-CE. I am, however, open to being proven wrong about it. Back when I was authoring The Catholic Bibles Blog I would occasionally do something known as One Bible, One Year at the start of a new year. I did this for a few translations and profited from the experience each time. I am in no way desiring to do that with any translation at this point, since I have very much enjoyed making the MSG-CE as a daily part of my morning prayer and devotions. However, I would like to supplement it with something more formal/literal for teaching and study. Earlier last month I had considered using The Bible for Everyone but due to its size and lack of Deuterocanonicals (Apocrypha) I have decided to pass on that one for the time being. So, that makes the ESV w/Apocrypha a good choice as my second Bible for this year.

I plan to use the ESV w/Apocrypha published by Anglican Liturgy Press, which I reviewed in July of last year. Some may ask why I don’t get the newest ESV-CE edition published last month? The first reason is that I actually enjoy the hardcover Anglican Liturgy Press edition I already have. I also happened to have a nice Bible cover that fits it perfectly. Secondly, I can’t justify paying $50 for a paperback Bible. If the Augustine Institute would like to offer me a review copy I’d be happy to make the switch! 🙂

Let me just say in conclusion that I hope to give monthly feedback on my experiences with the ESV w/Apocrypha. This will most likely take the form of comparisons with other translations and how it was received during a number of Bible studies I am leading. As I stated above, the MSG-CE is my main Bible for prayer and morning devotions, that is not changing anytime soon. But I do recognize that I am in need of a more literal/formal translation to use in other circumstances.

Blessed New Year to Marc and all his wonderful readers.

24 thoughts on “A Year with the ESV w/Apocrypha”

  1. The advantage of the ESV over the RSV and NRSV are

    1. No political correctness
    2. No inclusive language ( contrary to myth, the NRSV does indeed use vertical inclusive language to refer to God which is something that the editors have publicly bragged about)
    3. OT Messianic prophecies are translated, to make the Christological meaning clear rather than obscure it as the RSV and NRSV do,
    4. Fully modern language without any archaic words like “thee”, “thou” or “into” ( this one applies specifically to the RSV)
    5. There is a serious attempt to make NT quotations of the OT match whenever possible

    There are many other advantages but these will do for now

    1. Biblical Catholic.
      I can understand how items 1,2,4 can drive a reader to prefer one translation over another. However, I would consider items 3 and 5 to be defects in a translation. Especially when the New Testament writers use Septuagint (Greek) sources while we use a Hebrew source. In a sense, clarifying the connections may represent a rewriting; versus a translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. I have not read much of the ESV except what Marc presented in his study of the Sunday readings. However, if the ESV includes a Note indicating that a translation choice of Septuagint was used verses the Hebrew that would be fine. I have noted this in the JB/NJB notes.

      Do you have any specific examples of items 3 and 5 in your note?

      1. I have no objection to (3) so long as one remains true to what is written.

        That is, you don’t need to lean on the text to make in plainer, but the charge goes that the RSV leaned the other way, making some prophecies less clear than warranted by text and tradition (the “young woman”* translation in Isaiah being the infamous example).

        (5) does give me pause. It could be done well or ill. If they start changing NT Septuagint quotations to match the Masoretic OT, that is bad. However, if they simply choose to translate consistently in both places where the wording is also consistent, there is no real objection.

        (((Before anyone says “young women” was a reasonable choice, quite simply, no, it wasn’t. Any ambiguity as to how to translate ‘almah’–which at the very least means something like “a young woman that has never carried a child”, a word we don’t quite have–is resolved definitively by St Matthew, Tradition, Septuagint, as “virgin”. Bucking the entire Christian Tradition of translation and interpretation of that prophecy, including that explicit by St Matthew in his Gospel, is not evenly slightly justified by the counter argument, “Well, it *could* just mean ‘young woman'”.

        This leads to the further argument people make that even ‘parthenos’ only meant “young woman” at the time of the Septuagint and only came to mean ‘virgin’ in post-Septuagint days. I am quite skeptical of this line, and the end of it is something like this:

        1. Isaiah meant merely ‘young woman’ by ‘almah’ (which we know now because, reasons.)
        2. And the Septuagint translators meant merely ‘young woman’ by ‘parthenos’.
        3. St Matthew and the Early Church, not possessing the language and theological skills of the moderns, misunderstood this and thought it meant ‘virgin’ and used it as a basis for the Virgin Birth, and to identify Jesus as Emmanuel.
        4. So the basis for belief in the Virgin Birth in the Church was really all based on misunderstanding and poor translation.

        After #4, some people still answer, “but it’s still true”. But only after having seriously problemitized the doctrine on nothing more than the modern speculation that Isaiah gave the most mundane prophecy ever, and everyone after him misunderstood and mistranslated it into something extraordinary.)))

      2. That is why I said “whenever possible, when the NT is directly quoting the Hebrew text verbatim, as they often do, this should be clear by making the passages match.

        It often isn’t clear just what the New Testament writer is quoting at all if anything. There are some passages where the New Testament writer says “scripture says” and what follows is something that no one recognizes at all and it is not at all clear what is being quoted.

        But when there is a direct quote from the Hebrew text this should be absolutely clear in the New Testament text.

        The problem with the RSV and NRSV is it they seem to go out of their way to make sure the quotes never match under any circumstances even when it’s a direct exact word for word quote from the Hebrew text.

  2. I am using my edition of the ESV quite a bit (sans the Deuterocanonicals), along with the RSV-CE2 and the NRSVCE. The ESV seems to balance the literal with the smoother reading a bit better. But like others who have commented, there is NO WAY I’m paying $50 for the Augustine Institute’s paperback bible, even if it is Smythe sewn! That’s an absurd cost for a paperback bible. $30 would be much more reasonable. (I hope they read this blog and decide to remedy that!)

    Tim, even though you’ve decided to not use Tom Wright’s and John Goldingay’s The Bible for Everyone in your daily prayer, I’m glad you mentioned it. I’m finding this to be a brilliantly refreshing translation, even though some parts strike the ear as a bit odd (which, in the case of the OT, may simply be a reflection of the oddness of the original Hebrew text— but it is a bit funny to hear, “Hey, anyone who’s thirsty,” used in Isaiah 55:1, and in the case of the NT, is likely a reflection of Wright’s choice of colloquialisms that ring strange to my American ear– such as “woe betide”, which is also used in the Revised English Bible, if I recall correctly).

    Overall, I’m really enjoying this Bible. It’s really like reading the bible again for the first time and wakes one up to the text! Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

    1. Leighton,

      From what I read of the Bible for Everyone, I really liked it. You are right (Wright) about it being a refreshing read. I will certainly be returning to it from time to time. In particular, Goldingay’s style is so different, and his use of the Hebrew names makes it a completely new reading experience in the OT. (I just don’t want to be carrying around two large bibles with me!)

      Part of my reasoning to spending this year in the ESV is to see if I have been to harsh on it. There are certain things in the NT that I don’t particularly care for, in particular the low ecclesiology in a number of its renderings. But, I am open to be wrong on that. Like you, I will not pay $50 for a paperback. If at the end of the year I find myself liking the ESV, I may consider getting an ESVCE if it comes in another edition. For now, the ESV w/Apocrypha works just fine.

  3. This is exciting! I loved your old blog and can’t wait to hear more from you again Timothy!

    For me the best thing about the ESV is the readability. No it’s not *that* different from the RSV or RSV-2CE, but all the little changes add up. The little readability speed bumps have been removed, and yet it still retains the basic flavor of the RSV. It’s a modernized RSV. It’s what the 2CE could have been, in terms of readability, if they had completed the job. I say this as someone who’s daily reading bible was the RSV for years – I still love the RSV, but the ESV is just a wee bit nicer to read for me.

    If I thought Ignatius was going to revise and complete the 2CE I wouldn’t be as interested in the ESV-CE. But my gut tells me the 2CE is dead, never to be revised again. The ESV uses more recent manuscripts and scholarship, and is a more complete stylistic revision of the RSV.

    I still have quibbles with the ESV. No I don’t like “overseers” instead of “bishops”, as per your “low church” complaint. But overall it’s an up to date, contemporary RSV, which I like.

    1. Anon,

      Thanks for the kind words. I am grateful for Marc allowing me to pop in here from time to time. I am really trying to be open to the ESV. We shall see where it goes.

      (Make sure to put a name next time In your comment so that I speak more directly to you!)

      1. Hi Timothy,

        Thanks! This is Steve Molitor.

        I guess my other thought re the ESV is why *not* have an modern, updated RSV? It fits a niche, for those who love the RSV but want one based on the latest manuscripts, fully revised, etc. No catholic edition of the RSV fit that bill – until now.

        The NRSV comes close, and I love it. Still, I appreciate the slightly more literal nature of the RSV/ESV – I actually like all the sentences that begin with “And…” in Mark for example. (I’m setting aside the inclusive language thing – I actually appreciate it but I think the NRSV goes too far in spots. It’s not something I get too exercised about one way or the other.)

        It may not be for everyone, but the RSV line fits a niche, and having an updated RSV translation in a Catholic edition with the deuteros is great IMHO.


        1. Steve,

          Hello again! I agree with you about the “And..” in Mark’s Gospel, which allows a little bit of his Greek to come through. It is always a tough balance. From my reading of the ESV so far, while I appreciate the more literal quality of it, I would say the NRSV still reads better. Hopefully that will remain the case when the NRSV is updated.

        2. The NRSV is not a “a modernized RSV” so much as it is a brand new translation that they named “New Revised Standard” us order to capitalize on the name of a widely respected translation.

          It’s a little bit like the Spanish Protestant Bible the Reina Valera. That which is available today has no real connection to the original Reina Valera which was first published in the 16th century. But publishers keep using the name because it is famous.

          I guess we can play a game of Thesus’ boat here, at some point, s Bible ceases to be a “modest revision of a previous translation and becomes a brand new translation.

          I frankly think that is what happened with the NRSV.

  4. It seems to get back to the reality that each translation has its strengths and weaknesses. I’ve never found one that is “just right.” For instance, I love the flow of the NRSV-CE, but I, too, believe it goes too far in some of its attempts at inclusivity (which I happen to believe is well-intentioned and useful when done appropriately) when it obscures OT passages (such as in Daniel, losing the “son of man” reference).

    At any rate, that’s the benefit of having different translations to look at when doing Bible study, of course. And then there’s that translation or two that serves us best for lectio divina.

    For instance, for study, I typically use the ESV, NRSVCE, and RSVCE. I’m also finding the recently released NET Bible (full notes ed.) to be quite enlightening, too, thanks to the extensive translator’s notes (what a resource!). But I’m really enjoying the Bible for Everyone for personal prayer time.

  5. I am following the advice of Biblical Catholic and I started reading the Esv.
    The accordance mobile app for ios and android has a free ESV reverse interlinear. The app is well made.
    Here is a review of ESV Wide margin trutone. It’s really a great edition of the ESV.

    Marc will you review the forthcoming Lexham English Septuaginta?

    1. Thanks for the link to the Lexham English Septuagint! This is the first time I’ve heard of it. It looks like a gorgeous edition for a reasonable price. Do you know anything about the editors or translators? Many of the people listed are unfamiliar to me.

      1. I ordered a copy on Monday, January 13 from Amazon and received it today(!) – Wednesday, January 15. (paid to have fastest delivery).

        Anyhow, if anyone has questions about the wording of a particular verse, let me know. And I’ll reply directly online here.

        1. Hi Ken! Welcome to the blog! I’m planning to make a separate post on the Lexham English Septuagint tomorrow, and I’m hoping that will be an opportunity to encourage a wider discussion. I would greatly appreciate anything you’d like to add in the comments for that post.

    2. Although raised Roman Catholic, I worship at a byzantine catholic parish and have interest and contacts in Eastern Orthodoxy. Thanks for the heads up. I just ordered this today.

  6. Here there is an interview with two of the editors:
    At these links you will find some informations about the new edition.
    “The new published version of LES, however, has been revamped and, it seems, reedited by Ken M. Penner, with the intention of providing a translation that answers the question “How would this text have been read–and understood and experienced–by a fourth century, Greek-speaking gentile Christian?” (p. xiii). I must admit I am eager to see whether and how this goal has been achieved (with some help from Penner, who will be responding to a few interview questions).”

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