Friday, January 16, 2009

ESV with Apocrypha (Deuterocanonicals) Update

Well, I decided to cancel my order with in regards for the ESV with Apocrypha. The site now states that it is temporarily out of stock. Since I have seen various publication dates, from January 1 to early February, hopefully we will have an answer fairly soon about when it will actually be available. Who knows? It is interesting that I still cannot find any sample pages anywhere, either at Amazon or OUP. Rest assured, once it is available, I will order it and then be able to do a review.

Update: I saw that the ESV was available at, so I decided to place an order. I think it cost me a couple dollars more, but at least they appear to be in stock there. Although comments by Michael indicate that Amazon has shipped out some of its stock, even though it is still listed as "temporarily out of stock" on the site.

Update 2: Thanks to Esteban, who found a link to some more info on the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals of the ESV. Also, I have been alerted by that my copy of the ESV with Apocrypha is on the way.


Michael said...

Yeah, I don't know what the problem is. I ain't canceling my order though because I used a special 'coupon' which gave me a considerable discount and if I cancel the order I won't be able to use that discount again.

Hopefully it will be published soon, the ESV is a good Bible (being 94% the same as the RSV, how could it NOT be?) and I look forward to owning a 'complete' copy.

Kevin Sam said...

Keep the order. If you cancel and reorder, you'd likely have to keep waiting if it is out of stock everywhere else too.

Michael said...

I don't think the problem is that it is out of stock, I think the problem is that it hasn't been published yet

Michael said...

I just got a message from Amazon that my order has been shipped. Order complete.

Anonymous said...

Timothy & Readers:
I'm new to this site, so forgive
me if you've answered this question before, but why does it seem that the RSV is virtually out
of print save Ignatius, Oxford
and a few others? Do any of these
publishers have exclusive (or near
exclusive rights) to the RSV?
As a Catholic Christian I feel
like screaming when I see NRSV
Catholic Bibles in brick and mortar
places like Barnes & Nobles in a
variety of attractive formats?
Being that many acknowledge the
RSV as kind of a modern classic,
why can't Thomas Nelson,The American Bible Society and others print out inexpensive paperbacks
and durable hardcover editions
of the RSV with Deuterocanonicals
for those who prefer the RSV?
Is this not economically feasible
for them? Would they have permission to print RSV-CE
bibles if they wanted to? I just
don't understand why the NRSV
is everywhere while the great
RSV has been abandoned, but by
a few. It's depressing, but once
in a blue moon, I'll find musty, old and beat-up RSV Bibles in used book stores which were published by Nelson and others who are still in business. Will
we ever get the RSV in
a variety of formats by more publishers? Or will the RSV be left to the ash bin of history, as a stepping stone towards another long-lasting English translation? --- And this is is my greater point, just as I believe that the New Mass's liturgy
would be better served with a
more sound English translation (read:--NOT THE NAB!!), I also
would like English-speaking
Christendom to have a Bible as
its standard. Perhaps I'm dreaming, but just as the Douay and
KJV served as a standard,it would be nice to have a standard to last
for more than a generation or two.
I and others in the past thought
that the RSV could be this standard. -- As I understand it, Ignatius is hoping for the RSV-2CE to eventually be chosen for the lectionaries in the
United States, which would be nice.
Hopefully, this may give the RSV
a chance at a long term presence
among English-speaking Catholics, thus making it in some ways a modern standard,but may make some Protestants suspect of this edition? -- Where do you see this going? Will the RSV and ESV be the two "new" standard editions? Where do you see this going?
--I look forward to everyone's

Michael said...

The copyright to the Revised Standard Version is owned by the National Council of Churches. When the NRSV was published in 1989, the plan was for the NRSV to be a replacement for the RSV, and the RSV was to go out of print.

But the RSV is such a beloved translation that many people complained, and so the NCC granted special permission to two publishers, Ignatius Press in the United States and Oxford University Press in the UK, to continue printing it for as long as there was a market.

This was an accommodation that they made due to the unexpected surge of support for the RSV when the plan was announced to discontinue its publication.

Speaking frankly, the RSV is an obsolete, out of date and inaccurate translation based on inaccurate scholarship. That is why the NCC originally concluded that it needed to be replaced. Both the NRSV and the ESV are attempts to produce an 'updated RSV' that fixes those problems.

But, those of us who are holdouts on the RSV are not fanatics about it, we aren't 'RSV-onlyists', we just want to keep using the RSV because it is the one that we are familiar with and we have a nostalgic attachment to it. And we have think that the quality of its English prose, has no equal among its rivals.

Timothy said...


While it certainly is getting a bit old, I am not sure I would say that the RSV is "obsolete, out of date and inaccurate translation based on inaccurate scholarship." Certainly the DSS findings have helped in many places in the OT, but I still see a few Biblical scholars, Catholic and Protestant, who use the RSV for academic works in English.

Would it be nice if the RSV could be updated, using more current scholarship and manuscript findings, heck yeah! Won't happen though. The closest, like you said, is the ESV and NRSV. (Certainly the RSV-2CE isn't a real update.) Unfortunately, while there are many places where I like the NRSV, its extreme use of inclusive language, makes it hard for me to use regularly. I guess that is why I am going to give the ESV a chance, whenver I get it!

Michael said...

Actually, the scholarship it is based upon IS indeed obsolete and outdated.

The bulk of the Old Testament was completed before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Of the 46 books of the Old Testament, the only one which made any use of the scrolls is Issiah.

The New Testament text is also outdated as it is based on outdated scholarship. In 1946, when it was completed, NT textual scholars were a lot more skeptical about the ability of medieval scribes to preserve the original NT text than they are today, as such, many passages, which are today considered 'authentic' were relegated to the margins in the RSV NT.

If you compare the text of the Aland and Nestle 27th edition Greek New Testament text that is used for most NT translations today and the NT text that was used as the basis for the RSV NT you will notice that the more recent text is about 10% longer, as lots of passages that were long considered 'inauthentic' and relegated to the margins are now back into the text proper.

One change in particular in NT scholarship is the widespread rejection, since 1946, of Westcott and Hort's theory of 'Western non interpolation'. This has made a significant different in the NT text.

In addition, the RSV has some unfortunately really bad translations in some passages which have been fixed thanks to superior knowledge of the biblical languages.

In particular, look at Psalm 137:4, which reads, in RSV 'the LORD is my strength and my song', people have been wondering for decades what this is supposed to mean, because it seems so bizarre, it seems like a total non sequiter. You may as well say 'the LORD is my peanut butter and my Ferrari'

More recent versions translate this verse 'the LORD is my strength and my MIGHT', which, you have to admit, makes a lot more sense.

Another example is in the Gospel of Matthew, in particular the second chapter where the magi say 'we seen his star in the east and have come to worship him', since the Magi most likely came from Persia, to arrive at Palestine they would have traveled WEST not east. This translation thus doesn't seem to make a lot of sense.

More recent translations say 'we have seen his star at its rising' which makes a lot more sense.

Nothing huge, nothing major, but there are tons of little things like that afflicting the RSV.

Anonymous said...

Timothy & Michael:

Thanks for your comments on my post regarding who has the right
to publish the RSV. While I agree with earlier posts that note that
the serious student must study
a variety of translations, I feel
that there is a great need for
a "Common" English Bible. The many
translations and schools of scholarship have produced a Church filled with schizophrenics (spelling?) and practical heretics. I have had close contact with priests and laity trained in the late 1960's through the 80's. Boy I could tell you some stories! The only Bible that would please some of these people would be The Jefferson Bible
in which all of Christ's miracles
were removed. These "miracles"
were merely the primitive misunderstanding of the Early Church or worse, Early Church propaganda according to some
of the clerics I've met.-- Mention
absolute Evil or Satan by name
and you'll receive a smirk, silence and a pat on the head as if you were dumbest of the dumb.
I've been told "Evil" is a symbol.
Perhaps I have had bad luck, but
it is clear that some of the
people I've dealt with in the
Church had next to no philosophical
training. How else could they not heed St. Paul's words ( I am paraphrasing) that the unseen is
more real than the seen. Physical
things are perpetually decaying wheras common sense itself will
tell you that not all of the Cosmos can be perceived by our limited senses and intellect.
But I digress, my point is this,
a "Common" English Bible would help stymie the effects of a
sort of "schizophrenia" (spelling?) that has resulted
from the variety of translations we have and a sort of lukewarmness
some Catholics have in regards to Sacred Scripture due to clerical ambivalance,neglect or hostility
towards Sacred Scripture. Yes, we have the Sacraments. Nothing can compare to them, but I'm still
envious of some of our separated
brethren's denominations who in some circles can unite around a translation when in fellowship.
A sound "Common" Bible would help
bring the members of the Church
Univeral even closer. If this ends up being a ESV Catholic Edition in
a few years, so be it. -- Thanks
for you continued comments.

Esteban Vázquez said...

FYI, it's in stock at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids.

Timothy said...


You da man! Nice find. Actually, if were a little closer to Grand Rapids, I might be tempted to get it there. Fortunately, it seems that has sent out my ESV.

Anonymous said...

Timothy and Readers:
Sorry if my previous post
came off as a bit harsh.
I love the Church and I want
the members of the Church Christ
founded to have great translations
for their edification. Excuse
my tangent that included some of my bad experiences. I know that
things have gotten better in my
diocese. And upon reflection, most
of my negative experiences were with members of one particular order. For the record, I lived
most of my life as an agnostic.
So, when I see people mix the
leaven of the world with the
Word of God my antennae perk up.
(I am not talking about you guys, but others from my past.)
Having left the errors of the
world to walk in the Truth of God,
I am a bit vigilant in protecting
what I know to be spiritually true.
I've been tested. Many who pooh
pooh the metaphysical claims
of Our Lord have not been tested
and thus, dismiss it out of hand.
We in this forum seek truth with
intellectual honesty. We seek truth wherever it takes us regardless of our personal
agendas.-- Let us pray that the men who will give us these new translations are guided by the Holy Spirit and not let astray by
their own presuppositions.---
Forgive me for waxing philospohical. I will try to avoid this in the future.---And with all this having
been said, does anyone see an ESV-
Catholic Edition coming in the next
5 years?

Timothy said...


No problem with what you wrote. I know that many of us have experienced similar situations. I do think, like you mentioned, that things are getting much better. Thanks for your comments, please make sure to stop by often, where you are certainly welcome!

As for the ESV, I really don't see it ever coming in a specifically Catholic edition. The fact that no Catholics were on the translation team causes me to think there won't ever be a ESV Catholic Edition. In this sense, the ESV is unlike the RSV, which was post-edited by Catholic scholars in Britain, and the NRSV, which included Catholic scholars in the translation committee. I would say that I wouldn't be surprised if there would be produced, by Oxford University Press for instance, some Ecumenical study Bible at some point, using the ESV text (with Deuterocanonicals) and having an ecumenical group of scholars supply notes.

Michael said...

My ESV arrived today!

And the Psalm I had in mind wasn't 137, it was 118 specifically 118 verse 14. Never was good at memorizing citations! :-)

Timothy said...


So what are your initial thoughts of the "product" ?

Michael said...

Well, the quality of the book itself, cover, binding, quality of the pages etc is excellent.

The translation, which is 94% the same as the 1971 RSV, is excellent, but it needs a little work.

As far as it goes, the translators of the NRSV put a lot more care and attention in their final product than the translators of the ESV did. The NRSV translators spent 15 years on their translation but the ESV translators spent only about 3 years, and it shows.

Nevertheless, while it does need work, the ESV can't help but be an excellent translation, and it does fix many of the flaws of the 1971 RSV. Not all of their changes are for the better, whenever you are reading along and discover a passge that seems awkward, compare it to the RSV and almost certainly the 'awkward' part was one of the changes in the ESV.

The ESV committee don't have the keen ear for crisp English prose of either the RSV or NRSV committees.

The 'apocrypha' section surprisingly comes at the end of the book, after the NT, rather than the beginning. It appears to be nearly the same text as the 1977 RSV 'Ecumenical Edition', although the preface by Oxford University Press did say that they revised the text slightly to fit the style of the other books.

Like the 1977 RSV Ecumenical Edition, this 'apocrypha' contains not just the traditional '7 books' missing from the Protestant Bible but also Psalm 151, The Prayer of Manasseh, 1-2 Esdras and 3-4 Maccabees.

The 'extras' are 9 beautiful, full color maps, a table of weights and measures and monetary equivalents and several blank pages to write your own study notes. It also has section headings, full cross references and textual footnotes.

Plus, I really like this, inside my copy was a little card filled with tips for keeping the book in its best possible condition.

What it unfortunately DOESN'T have is a copy of the ESV CD ROM, but I guess you have to buy one published by Crossway to get that.

Right now, I am reading the NRSV, and when I get done with that, (which should be in May) I plan to read this edition of the ESV cover to cover.

Timothy said...


How has your reading of the NRSV been going?

Michael said...

Oh, I have read the NRSV before, I rather like it. With the exception of some of the more PC renederings (which are fewer than many of its critics would like to admit), the quality of the English prose is excellent, and almost as good as the RSV.

One thing I like about the NRSV is that it fixes many of the more confusing and ambiguous passages of the RSV. For example, in 1 Corinthians St Paul says (according to RSV) 'it is better to marry than to burn'.... which makes it sound like Paul is talking about hell, but he isn't. The NRSV rendering of this verse is clearer and more direct 'it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion'.

Lots of little touches like that make this an improvement upon the RSV, although I wish they would revise it to get rid of some of the more PC renderings.

Timothy said...


I tend to agree with your evaluation of the NRSV. I often find myself enjoying reading from the NRSV in relation to most other translations. The PC stuff does bug me, but at least they provide honest textual notes. I am still trying to decide on a daily reading Bible, so perhaps I need to think about the NRSV again. Of course, I will be getting the ESV in soon as well, so I should consider it as well. Hmmm.....

rolf said...

Just for info,
On that above mentioned verse from 1 Corinthians (7:9), the RSV-2CE translated it; 'For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.'

Michael said...

I have a copy of the Second Catholic Edition of the RSV, but I have never really gotten a chance to look at it. In general I think that the differences between the RSV CE2 and the RSV are probably even smaller than the differences between the RSV and the ESV.

Timothy said...

Well, the changes are definitely less than with the ESV. The RSV-2CE simply eliminated the archaic language found in the original RSV, along with making some minor at Is. 7:14. Those who edited the RSV-2CE didn't refer to new textual discoveries, which the ESV and NRSV did. (I would think that they probably didn't have permission to do so.)