There have been several posts on the ESV again. I would like to explain why I cannot endorse this translation myself. I understand that many people will not share my view, but nonetheless, there are few enough women who review Bibles, so bear with me.
First, the ESV is a revision of the RSV and the KJV before that. Therefore, it inherits some of the very positive aspects of those translations. These would include the literal and literary qualities of the KJV. The KJV was known for not inserting implied wording into the translation any more than absolutely necessary to make the English grammatical. It was also tested for readability, a sense of rhythm and flow, and use of poetic and emotive language. It was both literal and literary.
The ESV inherits some of these qualities. It retains some of the original KJV style but not always successfully. Literalness also is retained in a very uneven way, so one is never really assured of whether a phrase is literal or not. For example,
- No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. ESV
No one has ever seen God, but the one and only [Son], who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. TNIV
No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known. NRSV
No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. KJV
The overall treatment of gender in the ESV is not "transparent to the Greek." Here is what the preface of the ESV says,
- [T]he words “man” and “men” are retained where a male meaning component is part of the original Greek or Hebrew. Likewise, the word “man” has been retained where the original text intends to convey a clear contrast between “God” on the one hand and “man” on the other hand, with “man” being used in the collective sense of the whole human race (see Luke 2:52).
- First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people (anthropos) 1 Tim. 2:1
I desire then that in every place the men (aner) should pray, lifting holy hands 1 Tim. 2:8
there is one mediator between God and men (anthropos), the man (anthropos) Christ Jesus. 1 Tim. 2:5.
- For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s (anthropos) gospel, For I did not receive it from any man (anthropos), nor was I taught it, Gal. 1:11-12
and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men (anthropos) who will be able to teach others also. 2 Tim. 2:2
When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men (anthropos)." ... he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers Eph. 4:8
There are ministries and websites that use these verses and limit teaching ministry to men. It is hard to say what role these verses play. However, New Frontiers is known for saying "We are working with teams of gifted men."
This further example shows once again how little one can say that the ESV is "transparent to the Greek."
- For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man (anthropos), but men (anthropos) spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:21
he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man (aner), but of God. John 1:12-13.
I cannot recommend the ESV to a woman.
Note: I acknowledge that I have not included a discussion of the footnotes in this post. In some cases, the footnotes ameliorate the situation, but not consistently.