Recently I bought a new ESV 2011 pew bible. The first bible I owned was the RSV version. I have been memorizing bible verses using the RSV, sometimes the KJV and sometimes the NASB versions. Since the arrival of the popular NIV 1984 edition, I also started reading the NIV 1984 bible for the past 30 years. Recently, we started to replenish the pew bibles with NIV 2011 bibles. We were told that the NIV 1984 version is out of print. Since then I have been spending some time comparing the NIV 1984 with the NIV 2011.
As a reflection of my personal spiritual journey, I decided to review all my bible memory verses that I have learned from Bethesda Chapel. They are:
1) The first 5 verses for new believers called “Beginning with Christ.”
2) The next 8 verses on “Going on with Christ.”
3) The 5 packs of 12 verses each of the Topical Memory System (TMS).
The ESV, KJV, RSV, NASB versions translate the original Hebrew and Greek versions using the word-for-word approach. Among them, ESV is less rigid than the NASB and KJV in following the rules of word-for-word translation. It sticks to proper English but faithfully translates words found in Hebrew or Greek. See for yourself how many times every man or person is mentioned in Colossians 1:28 in the ESV, KJV as compared to the NIV. And note who is emphasized. It is God’s will that:
1) CHRIST be proclaimed,
2) everyone be warned,
3) everyone be taught so that everyone may be presented mature in-Christ. What is the implication? Everyone ought to be studying the bible and be instructed by God’s Word.
The NIV 1984 follows the thought-for-thought approach in translation. It was so popular that many churches today are using the NIV 1984 version as pew bibles. Since the arrival of the new NIV 2011 version churches begin to take stock and start to move to the ESV version. The new NIV 2011 has its merits as well as criticisms. This pastoral column is not the right platform to discuss details. Your council members are reviewing the ESV as a likely pew bible to use in the near future. They have been reading up and can help you in your queries.
Here is one example from Revelations:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (ESV 2011).
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (NIV 1984).
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (NIV 2011).
I find the second part of Rev 3:20 of NIV 2011 perplexing.
Here is another one.
All the “selah’s” have been dropped from the NIV 2011 from the Psalms! To be fair, the NIV 2011 note says, “The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here.”
My search to be grounded and be secure in God’s Word continues. My recommendations so far:
1) Read different English versions for comparison.
2) For scripture memory and meditation, use one version, preferably the word-for-word translation. The ESV so far meets my expectations, as much as RSV, KJV, NASB.
3) The bible concordance and bible dictionary can help the English readers check the original words and meanings of difficult words.
Have we stopped learning from our Lord Jesus? Let us take stock. Let us press on to know Him.
“Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD” (Hosea 6:3a ESV)
Elder Yoong Yuen Soo