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Books & CultureSeptember/October 2002



The English Standard Version

Preparing for the last teaching session in a study of Romans, I came to the book's final verses and relished finding there the same "obedience of faith" with which Paul began his epistle (Rom. 1:5; 16:26). At the start, I had understood this "obedience of faith" to be the necessary outgrowth of the gospel, although I had struggled with the multiple possibilities of meaning: the obedience that is faith … the obedience that grows out of faith … the obedience that is part of faith? Through the course of Paul's weighty argument in Romans, I had begun to grasp both the complexity and the necessity of the relationship between obedience and faith, so that, upon arriving at this phrase in the end, I could look back and celebrate what the whole book had taught me about "the obedience of faith." The significance of the phrase continues to grow in my understanding, as I connect it with other parts of scripture.

It was the English Standard Version which allowed me to learn from the Bible in this way. According to the preface, the ESV team from Crossway aimed for "an 'essentially literal' translation that seeks as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer." They have done well in accomplishing this aim. Committing themselves to the great "Standard Bible" tradition growing out of Tyndale and the King James Version, using the 1971 Revised Standard Version as their starting point, those working on the ESV compared every word of the RSV with the earliest Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts, making changes throughout for the sake of a more literal and accurate English translation.

The great strength of the ESV is first and foremost that it allows readers to trust the ...

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