Happy New Year to all of you! For the ongoing comparison series between the ESV-CE and NRSV, I’ve chosen the first reading for the Epiphany (from Isaiah). I also compared the ESV-CE text with the ESV text available on Bible Gateway. There are no differences between the two for this week’s reading.

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021 — Epiphany of the Lord
First Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6

ESV-CE:

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.

Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and exult,
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall bring good news, the praises of the LORD.

NRSV:

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Lift up your eyes and look around;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.

13 thoughts on “ESV-CE vs. NRSV: Epiphany of the Lord”

  1. Wow! Apparently. neither translation team saw anything to change from the RSV in this passage.

    I take back all the arguments I’ve made on here over the years that the ESV is superior to the NRSV. It is becoming increasingly clear that the two are practically the same translation.

    I’m starting to wonder why there are so many translations out there. If we were to compare the top 10 best selling translations verse for verse, how much difference would there be between them?

    1. True, but the sinister truth is that the preface in Bibles where they explain why the translation exists are usually filled with lies. The usual excuse is that supposedly the English language is changing and Biblical scholarship are increasing so rapidly that they need to create a brand new translation just to keep up. To put it bluntly, both claims are complete nonsense. There really have been no major advances in Biblical scholarship in at least 50 years. or at least none that would have any impact on a Bible translation intended for the general reader.

      The real reason new translations are made is usually money. For example, the origin of the Christian Standard Bible is that the Southern Baptist Convention got tired of paying licensing fees and decided that to save money they could sponsor their own translation that they could use without having to pay for it. But to admit that in the preface would make it seem base, so they invent nonsense about nonexistent ‘rapid advances in Biblical scholarship’ that somehow demand a new translation that is only slightly different from other translations.

      1. money, but also ideology. lots of translations almost exist exclusively to use gender inclusive language, which i honestly think just sucks.

        1. I too loathe inclusive language, I’ve made a lot of what I regard as very strong arguments against it on this blog, but I think frequent readers are getting sick of my ranting about it, and I don’t want to be known as a one-note Johnny, so I tend to let it pass, everyone already knows my opinion.

  2. These are pretty similar. The RSV is a solid translation. It has just been modified/tampered with/improved to fit the needs/agenda/bias/correct doctrine of various groups. Most of the arguments are overall a relatively small portion of the scriptures.

    NRSV: heavy amount of inclusive language, eclectic sources, attention to style, and non-Christian influence is perfect for most mainline seminarians.

    ESV: Christian OT prophecies intact, lack of high church ecclesiology in the NT and relative lack of inclusive language fits low church evangelicals just fine.

    RSV-CE2nd edition: with some alteration of the text to fit traditional catholic interpretations

    I personally don’t think that the changes found in the ESV are substantive enough to replace the RSV-CE2. IMHO the RSV-CE2 would be a superior lectionary choice to the ESV-CE.

    1. Sorry no. If the reason the Jerusalem Bible is being replaced is that it is too old, then it makes no sense to use any version of the RSV which is an even older text. Even though the difference may be minor, the ESV id at least a contemporary translation, not one from the last century.

      1. But both the ESV and the RSV-CE2 are light revisions of the RSV which were published in the 21st century. I don’t think the distinction is nearly as stark as the way you framed it — especially since the ESV, RSV-CE2, and NRSV are so similar overall.

        1. Very similar, yes, but the ESV is the one that does the best job of updating the language to be less archaic and most contemporary. Sometimes, the attempt to sound contemporary is not for the best, whenever you are reading the ESV and you encounter a passage where the first 3/4 of it sounds beautiful, and then suddenly it sounds pedestrian, you have probably encountered one of the changes made by Crossway.

    2. From the preface of the NRSV at

      http://www.bible-researcher.com/nrsvpreface.html

      “Following the publication of the RSV Old Testament in 1952, significant advances were made in the discovery and interpretation of documents in Semitic languages related to Hebrew. In addition to the information that had become available in the late 1940s from the Dead Sea texts of Isaiah and Habakkuk, subsequent acquisitions from the same area brought to light many other early copies of all the books of the Hebrew Scriptures (except Esther), though most of these copies are fragmentary. During the same period early Greek manuscript copies of books of the New Testament also became available.

      “In order to take these discoveries into account, along with recent studies of documents in Semitic languages related to Hebrew, in 1974 the Policies Committee of the Revised Standard Version, which is a standing committee of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., authorized the preparation of a revision of the entire RSV Bible.”

  3. “shall bring the good news” seems to be the only thing added in the ESV which isn’t there in the rsv. It’s missing even in the Greek

    1. It’s not missing. The Septuagint text at Isa. 60:6 reads εὐαγγελιοῦνται, a translation of the Hebrew יְבַשֵּֽׂרוּ (√ bāsar). Both “proclaim” (NRSV) and “bring good news” (ESV) are perfectly acceptable translations here, but in my opinion the ESV rendering better draws out the christological resonances of this text.
      Perhaps worth noting that the Vulgate does use “annuntiantes” here rather than an inflection of “evangelizo” (but see Isa. 40:9).

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