In my last post I gave some background on the popular versions of the Bible available today; what's different about the ESV? It has its roots (like some others) in an evangelical reaction to issues with other versions. Published by Crossway Bibles (a division of Good News Publishers) in 2001, this translation was led by J.I. Packer himself, leading a team of 95 outstanding bible scholars. Bible-researcher.com says: "It's an evangelical revision of the RSV that corrects the non-Christian interpretations of the RSV in the Old Testament and improves the accuracy throughout with more literal renderings. It also updates the language somewhat. The makers of this version undertook the work with the idea that there was a need for an evangelical version that was more literal than the NIV but more idiomatic than the NASB." They also conclude that while it does not supplant the NASB or NKJV for serious study, "As modern versions go, the ESV should be counted as one of the best for use in teaching ministry. It is more literal than the NIV, and so it is largely free of the problems that come with the use of so-called "dynamic equivalence" versions; but it is not so severely literal that ordinary readers will struggle to understand it. Its English recalls the classic diction of the KJV, and so it has some literary power (this is not unimportant in a Bible version). Its handling of the Old Testament is agreeable to conservative principles of interpretation."
The ESV Study Bible website gives some impressive endorsements...
“Outstanding! The ESV Study Bible is a treasure—a beautiful volume, filled with a wealth of resources. It will be just as useful for the seminarian and long-time pastor as it will be accessible to the brand-new Christian.”
“The ESV Study Bible is an invaluable and inexhaustible resource—for those who already know and treasure God’s Word, as well as for the new generation of Bible students who have yet to discover the wonder and wealth of Scripture. I especially love the way the notes and articles highlight the great redemptive story and ‘connect the dots’ between the various portions and themes of Scripture. Full of rich insight, scholarly yet accessible—I am deeply grateful for this magnificent work.”
The website is fairly informative, there's even a page with several videos giving an overview and specific details about the ESV Study Bible. The amount of study material in there looks to be truly impressive, with 2,752 pages, 20,000 notes, 80,000 cross-references, 200 maps, and over 50 articles. What modern site would be without a blog, and indeed there is an ESV Study Bible Blog - the nice thing there is that you can download excerpts from their new bible and even PDFs of book introductions. What I've seen in there really does look quite good.
The best thing about it from my perspective... anyone who buys the print version of the ESV Study Bible will have free access to the ESV Online Study Bible, which will have additional features like audio recordings and searching!
The publication date for the ESV Study Bible is Wednesday, October 15, 2008.