The ESV Meets Its Cousin, the NRSV, Pt. 2

Again we need to be reminded of what the ESV states in its Preface about archaic language: “archaic language has been brought to current usage” and that it employs “current literary English.”

E for ESV and N for NRSV in the Gospel of Luke (both are revisions of the 1971 RSV):

E : And there appeared to him an angel
N : And an angel of the Lord appeared to him

E :and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah
N :It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah

E : for it has been delivered to me
N : for it has been handed over to me

E : What is this word?
N : What is this message?

E : we toiled all night
N : we worked hard all night

E : But now even more the report about him went abroad
N : But the news about Him was spreading even farther

E : And amazement seized them all
N : They were all struck with astonishment

E : and on many who were blind he bestowed sight
N : and He gave sight to many who were blind

E : they were filling with water
N : and they began to be swamped

E : seized with great fear
N : gripped with great fear

E : I perceive that power has gone out from me
N : for I was aware that power had gone out of Me

E : he set his face
N : He was determined

E : But Martha was distracted with much serving
N : But Martha was distracted with all her preparations

E : and he will answer from within
N : and from inside he answers

E : But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.
N : But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you.

E : Bring quickly the best robe
N : Quickly bring out the best robe

E : For this my son was dead
N : for this son of mine was dead

Again we are grateful to our friend for his painstaking work of comparing the ESV against it cousin, the NRSV in the area of archaic expressions (see Part 1).

Now if I need to purchase a formal-type translation, I know which one I’m going to get.

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11 Responses to The ESV Meets Its Cousin, the NRSV, Pt. 2

  1. TC, You nailed it by quoting from the ESV Preface: “archaic language has been brought to current usage”.

    Good examples yet again.

    FWIW, I have enjoyed the NRSV. It reads very well. I keep it on my nightstand so you could say it’s my official reading in bed Bible translation of choice.

  2. trinity3r1 says:

    I have yet to purchase a NRSV oddly enough… I seem to have most others. As far as formal translations go I still see-saw between the NASB and NKJV. Because I grew up with the KJV, the NKJV is more familiar, yet the NASB has more resources to study with.

    On a related note to the ESV, I have read somewhere that Crossway is doing an update to the ESV text again next year so I think it a tad redundent that the ESVSB is coming out so close to the end of the year.

  3. Some people see “archaic language” as thee and thou. To many scholars and older people brought up on KJV and RSV the ESV may seem less archaic. For me, even the NRSV is too archaic.

    Mat 10:31a
    E : Fear not, therefore;
    N : So do not be afraid;


  4. tc robinson says:

    Stan, the NRSV is still the Bible of many academics.

    Trinity31, Another update that soon? Wow!

    Jeff, even the TNIV has some archaic expressions. We’re considering the usual claims made by the ESV.

  5. Colin Heath says:

    Another fascinating set of comparisons.

    I have not looked at the ESV as yet.

    In my own parish, the NIV remains in the pews and on the lectern. Individual members tend to use this, or the GNB or others. I keep an NRSV as it is tending to be the “official” version in the Cof E. I use it in Housegroup and refer to it when preparing sermons.

    All your examples seem to me to make the ESV look stilted and archaic in comparison with the NRSV. I don’t find the NRSV reads more or less easily than the NIV. Though to quote an single isolated example, Psalm 1 v1 in the NRSV is in my opinion less coherent than the NIV.

    I guess my basic thought is to wonder which better conveys what God wants to say to the reader, the preacher and the listener. Each translation has its advocates and detractors.

  6. tc robinson says:

    Colin, Have you ever looked into the TNIV?

  7. Colin Heath says:

    TC I only fairly recently found out there was a TNIV. I was minded to obtain one. Is there a defing way in which it differs from the original NIV?

  8. tc robinson says:

    Colin, about 7% tweaking, but more in the area of gender accuracy. The TNIV is a welcome improvement of the NIV, in my opinion. But you should look into the matter for yourself.

  9. nothingman says:

    As I have spent more time using the NRSV, I have noticed more archaic language in the OT in comparison with the NT. One of the reasons can be found in the preface to the NRSV:

    “Another aspect of style will be detected by readers who compare the more stately English rendering of the Old Testament with the less formal rendering adopted for the New Testament. For example, the traditional distinction between shall and will in English has been retained in the Old Testament as appropriate in rendering a document that embodies what may be termed the classic form of Hebrew, while in the New Testament the abandonment of such distinctions in the usage of the future tense in English reflects the more colloquial nature of the koine Greek used by most New Testament authors except when they are quoting the Old Testament.”

    I have found myself turning more often to the NLTse for clarification, especially while reading through The Prophets.

  10. tc robinson says:

    Nothingman, thanks for that info. It certainly helps to explain the OT in the NRSV.

  11. Pingback: I would never recommend the ESV over the NRSV | New Leaven

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