Another sign that the folks at the Augustine Institute plan to fully back and support their new ESV-CE is the appearance of an actual website devoted to promoting and answering questions about their translation. Containing a short promo video, comparisons to the NABRE, info on available editions, and a FAQ section, this website is titled “Anchored in the Storm” denoting (I think) the times we are living in. We shall see if this site expands over the coming months, but it is nice to see a Catholic bible edition receive an attractive website to support it. Here’s hoping that they will regularly update the site and include more features in the future. A searchable ESVCE would be something I would appreciate.

40 thoughts on “ESV-CE Website”

  1. That website states, “Introducing the only Catholic Edition of the English Standard Version (ESV-CE), the most readable, accurate, and reliable translation of the entire Holy Bible available for English speaking Catholics throughout the world.”

    The ONLY edition of the ESV-CE? I thought ATC Publishing in India still publishes their edition of the ESV-CE Bible. Hmmm.

    (And who knows, soon their might be an Anglicized edition of the ESV-CE as there is for the regular ESV (ESVUK) )

    1. You’re overreading it. What it actually saying is far more vaccuous than that. What it is actually saying is that the ESVCE is the only Catholic edition of the ESV.

    2. Actually I think ATC owns the base rights to publication still. They still have their bonded leather and hardbound options available. Not sure what’s the deal they have with Augustine Inst. An ESV Anglicised will be of no use imo. It would be great if AI would correct Genesis 3:16, 1Tim and Luke.

    3. Actually I think ATC still owns the base publication rights. Not sure what’s the deal between ATC and AI. ATC has plenty of variants available on their site and comparatively cheap. I would be great if AI could make corrections in Genesis, Luke and 1Tim.

      1. If only those in the US (via the Augustine Institute) were allowed to have very affordable editions, akin to the ATC editions.

  2. Website: “This translation better draws upon the textual and theological traditions of the Church compared to other English Catholic Bibles.”

    Hmm, really not so sure about that, with respect to either textual *or* theological issues.

    Textually, the OT of the ESV, to my understanding, is pretty uncompromising in its pro-Masoretic orientation, which reflects the evangelical Protestant background of the original translators. Honestly, the more eclectic NRSV OT probably has a better claim to be drawing on the more pluriform textual tradition of the Catholic Church. Not that there’s anything wrong, of course, with a translation that follows the Masoretic rigorously. I just think it’s really far-fetched to claim that doing so “better draws upon the textual … traditions of the Church” in any way. If anything, stringently following the Masoretic is kind of foreign to the Catholic approach to textual decisions.

    (As for the NT, it just follows the most recent Nestle-Aland right? Nothing really specifically Catholic about that though, or more Catholic than other Catholic translations, which basically do the same.)

    As far as the *theological* tradition of the Church goes, I don’t know if you really want to go there! “Propitiation,” “overseers,” “O highly favored one,” …

    Again, not saying there’s anything wrong with the ESV-CE, but I hardly think one can say it’s single-handedly the most Catholic English Bible on the planet!

    I really do like the ESV-CE and the Augustine Institute’s work, and I get that it’s good marketing. But as Aristotle once said, “Piety requires us to honor truth above our friends!”

    1. Alfredo,

      Yes, I think you make very good points there. And I would add that by cherry picking a few verses against the NABRE isn’t the most thoughtful or helpful comparison.

      1. Especially since the OT verse they cherry-picked demonstrate that the NABRE’s OT is a much more literal translation of the Hebrew, and honestly any verse they pick from the NT doesn’t matter much since the current NABRE NT is going to be replaced in a few short years. This is bad advertising at best, can nothing be allowed to stand on its own merits any more?

        1. Surly,

          Yes, you are correct in what you write. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth for sure. I also think it is misleading to say that the ESVCE is “the most readable, accurate, and reliable translation of the entire Holy Bible available for English speaking Catholics throughout the world.” It isn’t. And no translation could possibly be all three of those things.

        2. Let me also say that advertising the ESVCE as necessary for “faithful Catholics when reading Sacred Scripture” is also stupid. One could be a “faithful Catholic” (let the reader know what they mean by that) and still read any of the Catholic translations. This is silly and dumb.

        3. Surly,

          Great point. Honestly, my experience is that the NABRE OT is fantastic, and is often quite a bit easier to follow than the RSV/ESV tradition (especially in the Pentateuch). And I am a pretty “conservative” person when it comes to these matters.

          The notes are also often very helpful, and so far I can’t really see where their reputation for being dubious comes from. (Though perhaps I will see that more if I look at the NT, which I haven’t as much.) Incidentally, I have a Confraternity Bible which came out and was approved before a lot of the craziness that followed in the decades after, and the NABRE OT notes are very often exactly the same as the Confraternity OT notes (or just minorly updated).

          I have no idea where some of the animus against the NABRE OT comes from. Honestly, if someone coming to the Scriptures for the first time wanted to read the OT, especially the Pentateuch, I would almost certainly recommend them the NABRE first, over the ESVCE. (And I love the ESVCE.)

    2. Alfredo,

      Yes, I think you make very good points there. And I would add that by cherry picking a few verses against the NABRE isn’t the most thoughtful or helpful comparison.

    3. Well said, Alfredo!

      I, too, really enjoy the ESVCE, but it’s not the be-all-end-all of translations. And it’s ironic that for a bible that is really Catholic, it’s really mostly the product of Protestant scholarship. Do I think it’s a superb translation? Yes. But I too think there’s some exageration going on with the claims.

      Having said that, I received my red bonded leather edition (finally, after a comedy of errors in which I though it was lost, and it wasn’t, and then it really did get sent to the wrong place (a completely different city). But now it’s in my hands, and I’m happy with it. Yes, as Timothy said, it’s indeed true that bonded leather is… well… bonded leather, and has that feel (sorta stiff and plastic compared to genuine or premium leather), but overall it’s a fine edition, and I’m glad I purchased it, even with a higher pricetag than perhaps it should be. I hope in the future they will offer this edition in premium leather, but it will depend upon demand, obviously.

      1. It is true that the claims are exaggerated l, but that’s marketing, all Bible translations make similar claims. It’s similar to wireless companies, they all claim to have “the nation’s best network”, but that obviously can’t be true. When reading marketing speak, you have to divide by 10, and sometimes, by 100.

    4. I’ll give you overseer. but there’s nothing wrong with propitition,that is a good Catholic word. in fact, it is used by the Council of Trent.

      1. That is a fair point, although I think the ESV translators in particular preferred it, over expiation, in the hopes it will suggest the distinctively Protestant version of penal substitution. (I understand Catholics also have a substitionary view of the atonement too, of course.) But fair enough, it is not intrinsically bad or un-Catholic, although I think in fact it might have been motivated by an evangelical orientation.

        Although I should add, I forgot to mention “the church of the living God, **a** pillar and buttress of the truth.” Even if that translation is defensible (though I think it is only that), you can hardly say it is the most *Catholic* translation available!

        1. I don’t really see how using a word that Catholics used for centuries before the Reformation could be said to imply a Protestant doctrine.

          Some Protestants, especially those of the Reformed variety, do insist that penal substitution is the only legitimate theory of the atonement, but to try to pack all that into one word seems implausible. Expiation is not a traditional Catholic word, propitiation is.

          1. Fair enough! I think you are right, I definitely see your point and I think you’ve mostly changed my mind on this. In fact, the DR uses propitiation too I believe, so maybe it is really a return to Catholic tradition! (Even if that wasn’t exactly the ESV translators’ intention!)

        2. The guy who promotes th ESV stated in an interview, that “a pillar” can refer to Timothy’s episcope. But comparatively, the ESV is very similar to the RSV. There is a review on yt, esv Vs RSV trying to show if there is a slant.

    5. I largely agree about the exaggerated (and frankly untrue) marketing, Alfredo. It’s one thing to claim that a translation is the “most accurate” translation available in English — all translations claim that, and individual scholars differ on the most accurate translation of any given passage, let alone the Bible as a whole. But claiming that the ESV-CE “better draws upon the textual and theological traditions of the Church” and cherry-picking verses from the NABRE to paint it in an unfavorable light is a real turn-off to me.

      Plus, the marketing material is trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, the Augustine Institute is emphasizing the literal, word-for-word translation philosophy, but then they point to verses that either illustrate a preference for tradition over word-for-word accuracy or verses that are notoriously difficult to translate (Romans 9:5). The implication is that a word-for-word translation will always follow a traditional rendering (a false claim), and therefore, the NABRE has departed from traditional renderings because the translators intentionally wanted to promote heterodox theology.

      The more I read the NABRE, the more I appreciate that its translators and annotators did not dumb down their approach. They expect Catholic readers to engage with the details and complexity of the text and wrestle with the disorientation that inevitably comes when a contemporary person tries to understand a sacred text that was written at least 20 centuries ago in a much different cultural context. And yet, they are constantly pilloried for doing so.

      Of course, the NABRE’s approach is not the best for all occasions. If a person is doing devotional reading, they are less likely to want a deep dive into historical criticism. But the constant criticism of the NABRE really needs to be more honest.

    6. Especially after reading the foreword material (I finally got my copy last night!), I take that to mean two things, specifically:

      1) that the ESV as a whole aligns OT passages quoted in the NT – not rigidly, but to make it clear where there is a connection

      2) that it incorporates Septuagint renderings of OT passages when such renderings are quoted from the Septuagint in the NT, the better to show the Christian layer of interpretations in the OT – whereas the NRSV and NABRE defer to Hebrew texts for the OT that quoted texts seems to stand completely apart from their appearance in the NT

      1. Thanks Chris, that makes sense, and lessens some of the force of the critique I was making. I was assuming by “textual traditions of the Church” the website was referring essentially to “choices among manuscripts and textual variants.” By that measure, the ESVCE does not seem to be the translation that “best” draws on the textual traditions of the Church.

        But based on what you said, they might have been talking about something slightly different, namely, “aligning theologically the readings in the OT with those in the NT.” So I suppose another example might be when the Psalms are given a more christological flavor, e.g., by capitalizing “Son” in Psalm 2. By that measure, their claim might be more plausible.

        1. That’s precisely it. In fact, I think they may have referenced that as an example. The foreword materials are really quite worth reading.

          It’s what ultimately convinced me to edge closer to this as my “go-to” Bible. While hardly a translation of the Septuagint, it seems to make this its mission – unity of OT and NT in light of Christian teaching as quoted in the NT thru first century understanding of the Septuagint.

          That’s quite a bit different than the other members of the RSV family line. If you think about it, that was the source of evangelical discontent with the original RSV back in the day.

          Though I love the NABRE OT, it also leans into “academic translation of the original OT language.” That’s one of the things that made the Orthodox reject the NRSV too. To me, this makes the ESV-CE rather unique among modern Catholic translations: a rigorous technical translation, in fairly conversational English, that ALSO works hard to show how the NT Christians read the OT.

          1. Great points, thanks! That is quite helpful.

            I still can’t quite get over the implicit “dissing” of the other translations, and I wonder given what you’ve said if it is more reasonable to say the ESV best draws on the specifically “Christian” (as opposed to non-Christian) textual/theological tradition rather than “Catholic” (which sort of suggests the ESV is specifically more Catholic and less Protestant than other translations, which if anything the opposite seems true).

            But I think you might be right. I had read the front matter too, which is where I got the claim about the Masoretic orientation of the ESV’s OT (it’s pretty interesting to compare that to Bruce Metzger’s explanation of the OT textual basis, at the beginning of the NRSV). But I definitely didn’t think to draw that connection or that that was what the Augustine Institute might have meant. So thanks again!

      2. Specifically, in the ESV translation preface:

        “We have sought to use the same English word for important recurring words in the original; and as far as grammar and syntax will allow, we have rendered Old Testament passages cited in the New in ways that show their correspondence.”

        and in the introduction to the Catholic edition:

        “New Testament writers often cited the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew scriptures.”

        So when the marketing material talks about the ESV’s better use of the traditions of the Church in its translation philosophy, this is what I think it’s referring to: the NT Christians’ reading of the OT through the Septuagint, and a commitment to render the OT in a way that’s as open to the Greek reading as to the Hebrew, when that distinction is reflected in a passage in the New Testament (and if the text supports it).

  3. Pardon all the typos in my previous comment. I was in a rush. I do know how to spell “exaggeration” etc.

    Also, I don’t beleive it was Catholic Market’s error that led to my bible getting sent to the wrong city, but rather a postal mistake. But I would recommend buyers say “no thank you” to the free shipping for orders over $50 and spend the extra few dollars to get FedEx Ground shipping. My hardcover ESVCE took barely a day at even the lowest priced FedEx shipping cost (about $8), while my free shipping for the bonded leather edition took about 2 weeks, and I had to track it down to the post office in another city.

    As for the topic of the post, as I looked at the Augustine Institute’s ESVCE website I was thinking that it’s exciting to see how much is being done to promote the bible in Catholic evangelization today. I wouldn’t be surprised, at this rate, if there really is a good market for more premium bibles in Catholic circles in the next few years (I’m thinking, too, of the premium leather Word on Fire Bible w/ the Gospels initially selling out).

    Michael Barber has a good piece on St. Jerome and Pope Francis’ new letter here: https://thesacredpage.com/2020/09/30/pope-francis-releases-surprise-letter-on-jerome-and-scripture-study-on-the-16th-centennial-of-his-death/

  4. Tempest in a teapot, really.

    I *prefer* a translation that “most Christians” are reading, Catholic or otherwise.
    So with the shift to ESV away from the NIV among evangelicals and the NRSV among some mainline protestants, I like being able to pick it up as a Catholic too.

    I like picking up a Gideon Bible when I travel for work, and not having to worry about too many mental gymnastics. And especially with India, Scotland, and maybe England and Wales adopting to an ESV lectionary, I like reading what English-speaking Catholics around the world are hearing.

    Yes, I too admire the NABRE OT. But no Christian outside of mass in the U.S. really hears it. The ESV feels like something that ties English-speaking catholics together with each other and vast swaths of the Protestant realm. That’s a good thing. The rest is quibbling over dictionaries.

    1. Aren’t Gideon Bibles typically KJVs? I haven’t seen one in so long, I honestly don’t know what they’re sticking in hotels these days.

    2. First, the Philippines Catholic Church uses the U.S. Lectionary too and the NABRE is widely sold in the Philippines.

      Second, the NABRE OT is NOT heard at Mass anywhere (including the U.S.) except for possible snippets of it included in the revised Roman Missal as part of prayers and antiphons. The readings of the OT at Mass in the U.S. (and the Philippines) are from an older translation of the NAB that had been modified by Rome to be part of the 2002 edition of the U.S. Lectionary.

      That said the NABRE is widely sold in the U.S. and in the Philippines. Among Americans and Filipinos, it’s a very popular translation of the Bible.

  5. Out of curiosity, I started comparing texts between the KJV, RSV and ESV, and overall the ESV is quite good. But why must they dumb down the vocabulary unnecessarily (especially since it generally isn’t dumbed-down)? For example, look at the comparisons of John 1 here:

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john%201&version=AKJV,ESV,RSV

    You don’t bear witness “about” something unless you’re speaking very informally, whether or not that’s intentional. You bear witness to things! Yes, this is an insignificant quibble, but it still bothers me. We learn proper English primarily through reading, since most people speak informally (to different degrees), so it’s important that hugely formative books like the Bible help us form good habits of speech and writing. This is incorrect usage, and just plain bad style.

    I’ve heard people argue endlessly about how translations shouldn’t be too hard to read, because then no one will understand them (or want to read them). But no one is born with flawless mastery (let alone any knowledge) of any language, we all have to learn – surely keeping everything at a 6th-grade reading level isn’t the answer.

    Easier-to-read books have their place, but they should be a stepping stone to more challenging writing, not a standard. It’s like imposing a simple-language German translation on German churches because my ability to communicate in German is about on par with an eight-year-old native speaker.

    Not that the ESV is bad, not at all! It just annoys me that they simplify things that they really didn’t need to. Now you may all go forth and bear witness to/about (your preference) my surliness.

    1. Nice points, Surly, I agree. In some ways, the RSV2CE is a real competitor to the ESVCE I think, and precisely for these reasons. I definitely will continue using both, myself.

  6. The AI esv promoter has an article about rsv2c and esv differences

    catholicbiblestudent.com/2020/10/what-is-the-difference-between-the-rsv-2ce-and-the-esv-catholic-edition-statistics-included.html

  7. Oh hey guys! Don’t mind me. Just here reading my 1966 Jerusalem Bible with those great notes.
    I really appreciate all these comments but I think I’ll just wait ‘til the good ‘ol Ignatius Study Bib…

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