The ESV and the English Bible Legacy
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The ESV and the English Bible Legacy

Crossway / 2011 / Paperback

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Product Description

Modern Bible translations are at a crossroads. Multiple translation philosophies argue that there is a right way and a wrong way to translate the Bible. But who is right? And what has been the historic view of English Bible translators?

Leland Ryken, an expert on the literature of the Bible, brings clarity to these questions as he traces the history of English Bible translation from William Tyndale to the King James Bible and argues that the English Standard Version is the true heir of this classical stream.

Here is a great resource for Christians who have questions about why we have different Bible translations and how to choose between them.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 144
Vendor: Crossway
Publication Date: 2011
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 143353066X
ISBN-13: 9781433530661

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Publisher's Description

Outlines the chief characteristics of historic English Bible translation and surveys how modern Bible translations relate to the Tyndale-KJV legacy. Ryken firmly argues that the ESV is an heir of this classical stream.

Author Bio

Leland Ryken (PhD, University of Oregon) served as professor of English at Wheaton College for nearly 50 years. He has authored or edited over fifty books, including The Word of God in English and A Complete Handbook of Literary Forms in the Bible. He is a frequent speaker at the Evangelical Theological Society's annual meetings and served as literary stylist for the English Standard Version Bible.


Leland Ryken brilliantly demonstrates historically and linguistically that Bible translation philosophy is a life and death matter, and that it takes a thorough commitment to producing an ‘essentially literal’ translation to convey (and not obscure) the multiplex, polychrome fullness of God's Word. Unflinching. Powerful. Convincing.
-R. Kent Hughes,
Author, Disciplines of a Godly Man; Senior Pastor Emeritus, College Church, Wheaton, Illinois

In this fascinating book, one of the world’s most renowned experts on the literary qualities of the Bible explains what made the King James Version of 1611 the standard of translation excellence for centuries, and shows convincingly how the ESV and several other modern versions compare favorably or unfavorably to that enduring standard. An excellent book for understanding why translations differ, and why it is important.
-Wayne Grudem,
Research Professor of Bible and Theology, Phoenix Seminary

Product Reviews

4 Stars Out Of 5
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4.5 out Of 5
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  1. jeff
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: Male
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    Good at explaining what the title means.
    June 11, 2016
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: Male
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 3
    I will start by saying that I use the ESV (and the KJV). This book does a good job of explain what the title means (the English bible legacy) and precisely how and why the ESV is the rightful heir to the stream of English translations all the way up to the RSV. My main issue is that the author focuses far too much on the ESV versus "dynamic-equivalent" versions like the CEV and the MESSAGE while only a few sentences are spent comparing the ESV to translations like the NASB, NKJV or the NRSV.
  2. Annette
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Confident in ESV
    March 8, 2012
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    The ESV or English Standard Version was published in 2001. I bought a Crossway Study Bible in this version October 31, 2008. I'd read this Bible and used it to study sometimes. I'd also read most of the additional information in the study Bible such as: Interpreting the Scripture, The Canon of Scripture, Biblical Ethics: An Overview, and God's Plan of Salvation. These are just a few examples of additional information in this wonderful study Bible. I always had the Bible sitting next to my reading chair. But, it was not my primary Bible for reading and studying. I was still holding on to my Zondervan NIV--New International Version Study Bible. My latest version published 2008. In 1990 I took Old Testament and later New Testament in college, it was at this time I was introduced to the NIV. All these years I loved my NIV translation. I was possibly too comfortable in this translation.

    After reading The ESV and the English Bible Legacy by Leland Ryken; I made a decision to put aside, at least on the book shelf, my NIV Bible. The Crossway ESV Study Bible is now my main Bible for reading and studying.

    Ryland's main theme throughout the book is, "The ESV is the Bible in the tradition and legacy of Tyndale and the King James Version.

    There were 2 important points I will review on.

    1. The ESV is a "literal translation that preserves the full exegetical potential of Biblical text."

    2. The translators of the King James Bible believed that what one believes about Scripture governs everything.

    William Tyndale had dreamed that people would be able to read God's Word as literal and accurate and readable as possible. Tyndale wanted English speaking Christians to know God's Word, and to not depend on what someone else told them was in the Bible. The Tyndale Bible was published in 1525 but was banned. The copies that were in England had to be smuggled in.

    Later when the King James Version was published this translation was freely available to all.

    The translators of these Bible were most keen on a Bible that would be a literal and yet readable Bible.

    The translators felt as if they were stewards, not an editor or commenter free to change or add.

    "English Bible translations from the era of the Reformation were rooted in the translators' views of the Bible. Starting with the premise that the Bible in its original form was verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit, translators viewed the words of the Hebrew and Greek text as fixed and authoritative. The goal of translation was to bring a reader as close as possible to what the Biblical authors actually wrote."page 35

    There is included on page 45 a summary of the "convictions and procedure of the first English translators of the Bible."

    Further, Leland Ryken explains on: Wycliffe, the Latin Vulgate, papal church beliefs, modern translations of the Bible, rhythm and flow of language and reading the Bible orally, and ancient text versions that were studied.

    The "ESV aligns itself with the King James tradition." Meaning, "any passage we read we are given an English equivalent word or phrase for everything in the original text."

    Ryland states strongly, "all translations are not equal." And further, "a thought for thought translation is more likely to reflect interpretative opinions, and influences of contemporary culture."

    I was grateful that Ryland gave many Scripture variations from a variety of translations, comparing them. I along with him studied these Scriptures to see for myself their differences.

    I felt fully confident after reading this exhaustive and edifying book that I've made the correct choice in making the ESV Bible my main Bible of choice.

    I'm hoping that tomorrow I'll be posting another great book on the history of the Bible and textual criticism, entitled: How We Got The Bible by Neil Lightfoot.

    Thank you to Crossway for my free review copy in exchange for an honest review.
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