Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Guest Post: Thoughts on Possible ESV-CE

Thoughts on an ESV-Catholic Edition

I am a former Catholic and also previously contributed posts here way back. Now I am a Reformed Baptist and took a sudden shift of beliefs. Well, that doesn't really count to this topic, but just to inform some of the avid readers here as this could be important to correctly appreciate my point of view.

News from this blog came up lately that Oxford renounced the rights to the ESV with Apocrypha. They seem to returned the rights back to Crossway and Crossway is allegedly making an attempt to secure the imprimatur.

I have previously posted here an article regarding the possible impact of an ESV-CE to the RSV-CE (or RSV-2CE as a comparable contender):

For a long time, the concept of an ESV-CE brought excitement to many Catholics, including myself during that time. But this latest development not only reignited hopes for Catholics wanting for an ESV, it also came at an interesting time where versions are being discussed more extensively ever than before.

Some context on the ESV for the past months:
·         Crossway endured much criticism across the Evangelical circles last year on a thought of a “Permanent Text Edition”, perhaps to save the ESV from a bad reputation of continuously tweaking its text on a rather rapid manner incorporating only minor changes.

·         At the same time, the 2016 text edition raised concerns on the rendering of Genesis 3:16 and 4:7 from “for” to “contrary to” for the Hebrew word teshuqa (which is otherwise found again in Songs 7:10). The 2011 only footnoted the “contrary to” rendering, but in the 2016 edition it found its way into the main text. This caused Crossway to revoke their initial decision of a “Permanent Text” and stated that they will leave the ESV open for revision at a later time but on a much slower pace than they did before.

·         In the most recent discussions on Reformed circles, ESV is now receiving criticism for possible doctrinal bias regarding “Eternal Subordination of the Son” which was taught by some that the Son is eternally subordinated in some sense (I am not particularly accurate with how the subordination is qualified here) to the Father, not only the submission of the human will of the Son during His earthly existence but being eternally subordinated. The concept was seen to be apparent in the ESV Study Bible notes.

Given this immediate context, an ESV Catholic edition going public might cause the ESV to be under the hot seat once more. ESV had experienced significant impact from the 2016 textual changes. In fact, this has caused some to Evangelicals shy away from the ESV and shift to either NASB or NKJV. From an Evangelical point of view, ESV-CE might only bring further serious blow of criticisms. 

The unfavourable impact for the ESV might be magnified as a NASB revision is currently being done. Lockman Foundation initially planned to release the revised NASB later this year, but they pushed it by the third quarter of 2018. And based from my Protestant friends, Lockman moved the timeline recently to 2019. The changes are being rumored to be improving the readability of the Old Testament section. 

Perhaps the negative reaction towards an ESV Catholic Edition is inevitable, but I suppose this should not surprise us. Instead, we find an interesting situation here: (1) ESV is being adapted by Catholics, (2) NASB is being revised, and (3) NKJV was already adapted by Eastern Orthodox as a basis for their Orthodox Study Bible. Seriously, if this ESV Catholic Edition would come up off the press immediately, and we know Crossway is capable of doing so, this might dissolve some market share of those waiting for NABRE 2025.

This news of an ESV Catholic Edition is not only a big news to the Catholic world, but more so to the Evangelical world. Let’s see what will happen.


Matthew Doe said...

I doubt ESV will get an imprimatur for the ESV as it is, or rather, for the ESV text remaining as it is but being rearranged into proper Catholic order.

The RSV-CE received a significant number of changes as compared to the RSV to achieve a "Catholic flavour" to its translation. The NRSV did not (its CE version is a mere rearrangement), but that's because it tried to be "Catholic compatible" in the first place. The ESV clearly introduced a "Protestant flavour" again to this line of translation.

Thus in my opinion an imprimatur would actually require a proper revision of the translation. So, either Crossway is employing a bunch of Catholic scholar to give their translation a work-over or they somehow managed to get the rights to any work that was done in order to prepare a Catholic ESV lectionary (a project recently abandoned). Neither of these is impossible, but they are rather unlikely.

On top of this, I assume the Protestant reaction would be more extreme if an ESV-CE incorporated significant edits to the text, rather than just a rearrangement. So Crossway would be risking a lot.

Basically, I don't think so. I think it is well possible that we will see a Crossway ESV with Apocrypha. I think it is unlikely but possible that we will see a Crossway ESV with the Apocrypha sorted into Catholic order (a "CE light"). Whereas I think it is very unlikely that we will either get a reordered "CE light" with an imprimatur or a "proper CE" with imprimatur that edits the text.

Anonymous said...

I know that there will be an ESV-CE, and I am certain it will not be published by Crossway. Crossway has no interest in producing or publishing a CE, but others do. And as we have seen from Crossway in the past, they allow others to adapt the ESV. For example, the Oxford with Apocrypha. The Gideon NT updated with the TR.

We now have an NLT-CE. That sets a precedent.

Timothy said...

Crossway is the one who acquired the apocrypha from Oxford and the ones who are seeking the Imprimatur.

Jerry Mc Kenna said...

Is this version for the US market or for the foreign market?

Timothy said...


Christopher Buckley said...

It would make a lot of sense, if the powers that be (adapted and?) authorized an ESV-CE with the intent of using it for events surrounding the Joint Statement on Justification that's supposed to have "ended the Reformation."

Having Lutheran / Evangelical Protestants and Catholics citing the same text would make a lot of sense.

More than separate, individual translations, I tend to look at these as textual "species" within the KJV-RSV "genus" - the RSV branches into three variants that coexist and keep some major portions of Christianity talking in a similar language:
-The RSV-Ignatius Edition (or -2CE) is the RSV for Catholics (sponsored by a publisher)
-The ESV is the RSV for Evangelical Protestants (sponsored by another publisher)
-The NRSV is the RSV for mainline Protestants (sponsored by the NCCUSA)

So in my perfect universe, I imagine drawing two strands back together: Crossways and Ignatius sit down with the Joint Statement on Justification in one hand and Liturgiam authenticam in the other. They create a single reconciled version, get it the imprimatur for Catholic use and release it TOGETHER as a single unifying English Standard Version for Reformation and Catholic Christians together.

Hey I can dream.
Biggest reason this won't happen is that the Ordinariates are only authorized to use the RSV-Ignatius Edition for their lectionary. That's another fish to fry.

When you think of the "essentially literal" translations that have descended fromt he KJV, and ESV-CE would have a natural advantage. Look at the family tree:
-RSV-CEs updated the 1946 RSV's use of the 17th Greek NT in 1966
-NASB updated the 1901 ASV with 26th Greek NT in 1995
-ESV updated the 1971 RSV with the 27th Greek NT in 2001

By definition, an ESV revises the later state of the English text with the more current state of the Greek NT. That's something I would want as a reader and student.

Biblical Catholic said...

I don't know what evangelical circles anyone around here is running around with, but I honestly don't think that there is very much hostility to Catholicism among modern evangelicals, and many evangelicals have a very favorable impression of the Catholic Church. So I really don't think there would be a lot of outrage over Crossway publishing a ESV: Catholic Edition.

I can present evidence to support this claim, such as the fact Catholic political candidates don't seem to have any difficulty getting support from evangelicals. In the last presidential election, there were multiple Catholics running for the Republican nomination, including Rick Santorum, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie and JEB Bush, all of whom had significant support from evangelicals. And when he was president, George W Bush used to quote Pope John Paul II to defend his views on abortion, and I never heard any evangelicals complain. This may not sound like a big deal, until you remember the presidential election of 1928 and 1960 when Democrats nominated a Catholic for president (Al Smith in 1928 and John Kennedy in 1960) and both candidates were openly and publicly attacked for their religion by evangelicals.

Most evangelicals these days seem to think of the Catholic Church as 'just another denomination', there really is not a lot of anti-Catholicism out there among evangelicals. And there are substantial poll results which bear this out.

Now, if you're talking about KJV Onlyists, sure, but that's not really a mainstream movement.

I don't think a ESV: Catholic Edition would be all that controversial with evangelicals, any more than the Catholic Editions of the Good News Translation or the Living Bible were all that controversial.

Matthew Doe said...

Christianity is in a race to the bottom in the West, with the Protestants slightly in the lead (in Europe at least). As the post-Christian Epicureans become the primary threat to this dwindling remnant, it is hardly an ecumenical achievement that they stop fighting each other and start cooperating, politically. It is simply the old adage "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" at work. Christians are no longer locked into a struggle for power against each other, they are all increasingly struggling for survival. It changes perspectives.

However, the problem is that what proves resistant to the acid of secular modernity might well prove resistant to unification as well. As the last fats of cultural and liberal Christianity melts away, we may well see more of a Hunger Games scenario emerge...

Biblical Catholic said...

Matthew Doe.

I'm not sure what to make of what you just said, it seems like a strange comment to me. My point is simply that, for whatever reasons, and the reason are complex and multifaceted, there is significantly less anti-Catholic sentiment among evangelicals than there were in previous generations.

I suppose part of the reason for this is because of the rise of secularism and atheism, and as you said the development of a 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' attitude, that is no doubt part of it.

Another part of it is a rise in a kind of doctrinal relativism among Christians that many no longer consider questions of doctrine to be important enough to worry about.

But a large part of it is just a decrease in overt bigotry of any kind resulting from the Civil Rights Movement of the 60's. There is also significantly less anti-Semitism, at least among Christians, in the west, although with increased immigration from the Middle East, Islamic anti-Semitism is becoming more and more of an issue.

Another very important factor is the influence of Vatican II and Catholic efforts at ecumenism aimed at Protestants.

Whatever the reasons, I seriously don't think that many evangelicals would be offended by the publication of an ESV: Catholic Edition. And I seriously doubt that such a publication would result in a loss of sales.

Indeed, among evangelicals, there is an increased interest in the so called 'apocrypha'. I have noticed, for example, that evangelical Christian apologists, seem to more and more be making arguments for Christianity based on the 'apocrypha'. For example, I recently saw an evangelical argue against a critic who claimed that Paul was influenced by pagan thought point out the fairly extensive similarities between Paul's epistle to the Romans and certain passages in the book of Sirach. These similarities have been noticed by Catholics, and denied by evangelicals, for centuries, but now many evangelicals are admitting that the parallels are there.

so I think that an ESV: Catholic Edition or at least an official 'ESV with Apocrypha' edition would likely have a fairly significant evangelical audience.

Steve Molitor said...

That's a great dream Chris! It revives the dream of the RSV "Common Bible."

As much as I love the RSV, RSV-2CE, the ESV is more up to date, in terms textual basis and language. And while they may not be completely transparent, at least ESV publishes all changes, unlike the 2CE where third parties had to do their own sleuthing to find the differences.

Personally I hope it'd be someone other than Ignatius that sat down with Crossways. Ignatius is not an official Catholic church organization; they'd still need to work with church authorities to get the imprimatur, which could be a 3 ring circus. Or, they wouldn't get the imprimatur and just say "revised (again) in accordance with LA." Based on how they handled the 2CE I don't think Ignatius can handle this sort of thing well. I wouldn't want another quasi-maybe-sort-of approved Catholic bible.

So ideally it'd be say the British bishops working with Crossways to produce an ESV-CE that conforms to LA. Oh wait, been there tried that.... (the ESV lectionary part anyway).

But one can dream!

JDH said...

I'm not sure how big of a deal the ESV-CE will be beyond the symbolism and the ecumenical possibilities mentioned above. It would seem that the text would end up very similar to the RSV-Ignatius. Now, if Ignatius collaborated in joint editions with Crossway, as Christopher suggested above, that'd be pretty great. Maybe with notes and other content supplied by Ignatius, but the physical production by Crossway? Please!!!

But, regardless of whether or not there are any joint ventures or even lectionaries in the works, I do think this will result in some great new Catholic editions of the Bible. I have long admired the Crossway ESV's in both leather and imitation leather. They have a Large Print Compact-Imitation leather edition that is fantastic. It has a tough, seemingly durable cover in a very portable size but somehow with very readable font. If they produce a Catholic edition in that format (slightly thicker, of course!), I'd buy it immediately.

Timothy said...

Exactly. The likelihood of an actual Catholic bible in a premium (or semi-premium) format could rest with Crossway. As I have said a few times over the years, it would take a Protestant publisher to create a premium Catholic bible edition.

Steve Molitor said...

Just to clarify what I said above: I see no reason why Crossways would need or want to work with Ignatius at all. And I don't know why Catholics hoping for an ESV-CE would want Crossways to work with Ignatius. Ignatius has nothing to do with the ESV, no authority to grant an imprimatur, and no special expertise in biblical scholarship to offer Crossways. Crossways is already a publisher. They know how to publish fine bibles. They don't need Ignatius to help them publish.

I have the ESV study bible. It's production value is way better than the ISB. And Crossways' product is, um, you know, actually complete. Ignatius has nothing to offer Crossways but mediocrity.

Crossways does need an imprimatur. But that won't come from Ignatius.

Biblical Catholic said...

"Crossways does need an imprimatur. But that won't come from Ignatius."

It seems clear that if an ESV: Catholic Edition is made Crossway is probably not going to publish the thing itself, so, just as they farmed out the 'ESV With Apocrypha' to Oxford University Press, it seems likely that they would do the same with a Catholic Edition.

Ignatius Press is one of the biggest Catholic publishers in the country, so they like a likely possible candidate to get the job. Of course, it is not like Ignatius is the only Catholic publisher in the country, the job could go to Tan Books, or Roman Catholic Books, or Baronius Press or even to a secular publisher like OUP.

But Ignatius does seem like a natural choice, given that they already publish the RSV.

Timothy said...

If Tyndale can get an Imprimatur for the NLT, I see absolutely no reason for Crossway to work with Ignatius. There is now way that this will happen. Why would Ignatius scuttle their own translation? Why would Crossway want to share in this? Crossway has the ability to do this on their own, and that is what they are already doing. It

Biblical Catholic said...

"Why would Crossway want to share in this?"

Why didn't they want to publish the ESV with Apocrypha and instead have Oxford University Press do it?

The entire premise of the OP is that publishing a Catholic Edition of the ESV would be bad for Crossway because they would earn the enmity of the evangelical community and it could lead to a loss of sales.

I don't believe that is true, but if it was, it would make sense for them to want to distance themselves from the project by having another publisher print it just as they did for the ESV with Apocrypha.

And the rumor is that Crossway is working on a Catholic Edition ESV but that they won't publish it themselves. So if they aren't going to publish it, the question is, who will?

Anonymous said...

There seems to be a lot of comparison of the proposed ESV-CE to the RSV and RSV-2CE. Personally, I like the NRSV and don't know why I should even consider the ESV-CE. Could someone explain why one might prefer the ESV over the NRSV (other than the gender inclusiveness complaint of the NRSV, which doesn't bother me)?


Michael P.

JDH said...

Michael P.,

The comparisons to the RSV-2CE are being made because that is the Catholic edition of the Bible closest to the ESV. As for why you would prefer the ESV to the NRSV, I'd say there probably isn't much reason at all to do so if you like the NRSV. The main advantage to an ESV-CE would be a common text (or close to it) with Evangelical Protestants, who very rarely use the NRSV.

Matthew Doe said...

Michael P., try this for example:

Steve Molitor said...

Just based on what I read in Timothy's 'ESV with apocrypha' post, his friend Brett received info that Crossways is seeking an imprimatur for a future ESV-CE. In this guest post the author speculated that an ESV-CE would cause Crossways to "be under the host seat". Neither post said Crossways would go through another publisher. Then again they didn't say they wouldn't.

I assumed that Crossways bought the rights and is seeking the imprimatur to publish it themselves. BC assumed they are going through another publisher. Neither assumption is warranted though - the OPs didn't say, and in any case it's all rumors anyway.

Timothy's point is a good one: if Crossways were to partner with another publisher, Ignatius seems an unlikely candidate as the RSV-2CE and the ESV-CE would be direct competitors.

I hope that either Crossways publishes it themselves, or that they go through another publisher capable of producing fine editions - ie another non-catholic publisher. (I guess not Oxford though.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, JDH and Matthew Doe.

Matthew Doe: Based on the links you provided, I'll stick with the NRSV. The author of that site states:

"My main point: ESV rather than NRSV is a better match to the wording of the Bible as actually known and loved among English-speaking people."

My take on the ESV is that the translators decided to use historically used renderings in favor of, perhaps, a more accurate translation. Personally, I think that is a mistake. The Church revised the Nicene Creed and numerous other parts of the liturgy in 2011 to be more accurate rather than stick with the traditional wording.

I don't mean to suggest that the ESV is inaccurate and I realize that the NRSV is not as accurate/literal in ways that perhaps the ESV is -- I just don't understand the excitement generated by the possibility of an ESV-CE given the solid Catholic translations already available. Finally, I like the fact that the NRSV isn't continuously revised like the ESV.

Michael P.

Timothy said...


While I find the possibility of an ESVCe, I remain pretty committed to the NRSV as my formal translation for much the same reasons.

Christopher Buckley said...

FYI, I'm not suggesting that Crossways NEEDS to team up with Ignatius.
My point, rather, was:

-BOTH ESV and the Ignatius RSV "belong" to them as individual publishers. Both houses secured individual permission from the NCCUSA to create their own revision of a prior edition of the RSV

-As a result, both are claimed as strong preferences among certain Bible-reading constituencies within Protestant and Catholic circles for similar reasons (traditional rendering, literary but modern prose, gender inclusiveness, interconfessional uuse and recognition)

-Both are, or have been, considered for use as English-language lectionaries outside the U.S. The RSV-2CE is used by all Ordinariate churches worldwide, and in the Antilles. The ESV was being adapted for a while by Catholic bishops in England and Wales, and is the lectionary used by Missouri Synod Lutherans, among others

-Both are variant editions of the RSV, and extremely similar (In fact, I consider the NRSV a third sibling rather than a standalone translation of its own, but that's another story)

I was simply observing my own wish that, in light of the above, that these two very similar RSV variants could come back together into a single shared translation that succeeded both. Because each is licensed to the two publishers, they'd need to work together - not to PRINT it but to REVISE it and jointly license the result.

Steve Molitor said...


Thanks for the clarification. Yes merging the RSV-2CE and the ESV into a shared translation, vetted and approved by both evangelicals and catholic bishops granting an imprimatur, would be utterly fantastic! I'm not holding my breath, but it would be wonderful.

Short of that, a solid ESV-CE (with an imprimatur, revised in accordance with LA, a change log) that gained traction in the Catholic world would be pretty nice too.

Michael asks why the excitement over an ESV-CE? If you want the KJ tradition why just go with the NRSV? Well the NRSV is great. To answer the question though, one first has to ask, why are so many of us attached to the RSV?

I can only speak for myself, but there are several reasons. One is that it's in the KJ tradition, but that is true of the NRSV also. Compared to the NRSV, the RSV often conforms more closely to the underlying Hebrew, giving one a more earthly sense of the underlying poetry. A case in point is Isaiah 1: 2. The NRSV has:

Hear, O heavens, and listen, O earth

The RSV has:

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth

A small difference perhaps, but to my ear the RSV is so much better! It speaks to me. According the the Ancient Hebrew Poetry blog, the RSV is closer to the Hebrew, and thus more accurate in this case.

Similarly, in the gospel of Mark, the RSV preserves all the sentences that begin with "And...", remaining more true to the underlying Greek and giving you a better sense of the breathless quality of Mark's writing, as if he is saying "I've got important things to say, I don't have time to smooth this out!" The result is not proper English, but apparently Mark's Greek was not always proper Greek either. Again in this sense the RSV is truer to the style of the original, more accurate in that sense.

The cost of this literalness is that as English it sounds a little stilted in some cases. So I understand why some would prefer the style of the NRSV. But even for those who don't use the RSV as their primary bible, it's still a valuable resource to consult to gain a different sense of what the Hebrew or Greek original is doing with language. Similarly, I often read and consult the NRSV, even though the RSV is my primary bible.

But, one might ask, if the RSV is so great, why not just stick with that? Well, the RSV has some problems. The texts and scholarship it used is out of date. The ESV uses the latest manuscripts and has made corrections to the RSV to make it more accurate. Also, the RSV sometimes uses language that is needlessly archaic, words that may still have been in the English vocabulary in the 1940-1950s but are no longer. For example, 'mantle'. The ESV and the RSV-2CE change this to 'cloak' or 'coat' respectively. The RSV also uses archaic pronouns when addressing God, which is arbitrary. The 2CE and ESV both fix this.

So there is value, in my mind, in an updated RSV. Overall the ESV is a better and more thorough updating of the RSV than the RSV-2CE in my opinion, although the two are very close. The ESV is working from the latest manuscripts, is a bit more readable IMO. The RSV-2CE does weird things with 'behold' vs 'lo', and I don't care for 'babies' instead of 'babes' - it hurts the rhythm of the poetry in some cases. Overall the 2CE changes just seem a bit arbitrary, and of course were undocumented. The ESV does a much better job of listing their changes. And it has better marketing, and publishes in a greater variety of formats, some of better quality.

So for those of us who love the RSV, an ESV-CE is a chance at an updated, higher quality 2CE.

I do worry however about a reformed bias sneaking in to the ESV.

Biblical Catholic said...

"guest post the author speculated that an ESV-CE would cause Crossways to "be under the host seat". Neither post said Crossways would go through another publisher. Then again they didn't say they wouldn't.

I assumed that Crossways bought the rights and is seeking the imprimatur to publish it themselves. BC assumed they are going through another publisher. Neither assumption is warranted though - the OPs didn't say, and in any case it's all rumors anyway. "

I didn't say that the rumor that Crossway wouldn't be interested in publishing it themselves was posted HERE, I said that it was something that I heard.

I DID NOT ASSUME 'that Crossway would go through another publisher', the theory they would go through Ignatius Press wasn't even my theory, it was another poster's theory. I wasn't even defending the theory, I was simply explaining why it might make sense.

What I did say was that, in 2009, when the 'ESV with Apocrypha' was published, Crossway farmed it out to another publisher because they wanted to keep their distance from it. And we had a post on this very blog in 2009 by one of the translators of the 'Apocrypha' portion of the ESV where he pretty much says exactly that, that Crossway wasn't really happy with the idea of including the Apocrypha with an edition of the ESV and thus it was Oxford University Press that published it.

If Crossway is so anti-Catholic that they don't even want to publish a 'with Apocrypha' edition of the ESV themselves but instead have another publisher do so, so as to keep their distance from it, then it seems possible, perhaps even likely, that they would do the same with a Catholic Edition. I don't understand why this possibility is considered to be implausible when Crossway already has a history of using another publisher to print editions of the ESV that they don't really support.

Why would Crossway suddenly be willing to publish a Catholic Edition of the ESV themselves when they weren't willing to even publish a 'with apocrypha' edition, which is a far less radical idea than a Catholic Edition, of the ESV themselves in 2009?

In addition, I don't understand the argument which says that Ignatius wouldn't want to publish a Catholic Edition of the ESV when they already sell the RSV. That's like saying that they wouldn't want to sell a book that might be written by Pope Francis because they already sell books by Pope Benedict.

In more than 10 years, the RSV 2 CE has gone NOWHERE and had NO IMPACT. On the other hand, the ESV has sold more than 100 million copies and has been officially adopted by several denominations, if Ignatius Press was offered the option of being the exclusive publisher of a unique edition of the third best selling Bible currently in print, why would they turn it down? It makes no business sense for them to do so. Ignatius could sell more copies of a hypothetical ESV Catholic Edition in 6 months than they have sold of the RSV 2CE in more than 10 years.

Matthew Doe said...

It is very unlikely that Ignatius could sell many more ESV-CE than RSV-2CE. It is not the translation itself that has been in demand, primarily. Crossway is one of the best publishers on the market, perhaps the best, for mass-produced premium bibles. And they have been continuously innovating in that regard, and reacted rapidly to any emerging trend (like reader's bibles). The ESV translation as such in my opinion is simply good enough to not get in the way for them, perhaps it is even a nice selling point. And of course they have the full rights to it, so it doesn't get in the way of profits either. But if they owned the full rights to say the NKJV, I'm sure they would have sold about as many copies of that translation.

In fact, tragicomically Oxford has demonstrated the point. Their publication of the ESV with Apocrypha was, well, unremarkable. I guess you could say for the price the quality was OK, but there was absolutely nothing premium about it. Certainly it was nowhere near the premium as Oxford can do premium (and I would say that they are not quite top tier in premium bibles, but certainly better than Ignatius). I did not have the impression that the ESV with Apocrypha sold well. Imagine Crossway had produced an ESV with Apocrypha as Heirloom Legacy, or the like. I'm pretty sure that would have sold a lot better. Partly because of the bible itself, partly because of the advertising, ... but not really because of the translation.

If Ignatius gets the ESV-CE in their fingers, it will be pretty much the same story as with the RSV-2CE.

I reiterate my point about demographics: the number of Christians is steadily falling, but the Protestants are falling faster than the Catholics, at least in the affluent West. Those "Protestant" publishers who serve Mammon more than bibliolatry will want to push into the Catholic market, and soon. If they don't, then their profits will start shrinking with the number of potential buyers. Crossway mights simply be ahead of the curve, again.

Erap10 said...

The only thing I would have as a con for an ESVCE is that it might not have traditional renderings in Luke. I can take non-traditional renderings in many translations, don't get me wrong. All I am saying is that it would only be perfect for if Lk1:28 be traditional. Oh, and that they change "truly" to "Amen" when Jesus speaks.

Michael Demers said...

In case you all didn't know, the ESV (with or without cross references) and the HCSB are available for free on Kindle and Nook.

Christopher Buckley said...

I think there's a lot of wisdom in making sure that Catholics can quote from a catholic edition of the same Bible translations other Christian trust and recognize.

As of 2012 – Based on Unit Sales, the most bought translations were:
1. New Living Translation
2. New International Version
3. King James Version
4. New King James Version
5. English Standard Version

This survey ( indicates the translations most read by 2017 respondents are:
1. KJV - 31%
2. NIV 13%
3. ESV - 9%
4. NKJV - 7%
5. Amplified - 7%
6. Christian Community - 4%
7. NASB - 3%
8. NLT - 2%
9. RSV - 2%
10. CEV - 2%
11. NAB - 2%

So, we'll never "speak the same language" as the perennial top 2 (KJV and NIV).

But having an ESV-CE would give us a common platform trusted by contemporary Christians.

Two things are especially interesting to me in that Statista survey:
1) The Christian Community Bible figures far more prominently than the NAB as one of the two Catholic translations on the list
2) The RSV appears - well below the ESV, but much higher than the NRSV which desn't appear at all

Steve Molitor said...

Interesting figures Chris, thanks. The ESV-CE + NLT-CE might be the formal / dynamic duo then!

Christopher Buckley said...

They would certainly establish a significant catholic foothold in the most commonly read translations among Protestant Bible readers.

ESV-CE for more technical discussions.
NLT-CE for more popular audiences.

What about the new NABRE?
To be honest, it would simplify its place in the food chain.
That's just the translation we use in mass.

Now I'm really excited about this prospect. I find I'm hanging on the possibility of an ESV adapted and approved for Catholic use. When and if it comes to pass, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. I only hope it comes with a thorough essay up front describing the specific changes required by the Catholic approvers and accepted by the revisers, to help further conversation with Evangelical readers.

If only the UK Bishops (or even the Ordinariates) would follow through to adopt it as a mass lectionary...

Christopher Buckley said...

Come to think of it, we could simply rebrand the Challoner Bible for what it is - the Catholic edition of the KJV.

That would let us hold up approved Catholic adaptations at each branch of the KJV family line, which would give us analogs to each of the top Protestant translations cited above:

-KJV: the KJV-CE (Challoner)
-ASV: the NLT-CE (a paraphrse of the ASV)
-RSV: the ESV-CE (newer than both the RSV- and NRSV-CEs)


Steve Molitor said...

Re the NABRE, this won't and probably can't happen, but in 2025 I'd love to see a NABRE-PE: remove or move the deuteros and lose the notes, and market it in Christian bookstores and such.

Steve Molitor said...

Here's a question: what specific verses in the ESV would need to change to get an imprimatur? Not for use in the liturgy, just approval for personal use. Not what verses you don't like or disagree with, but what verses are contrary to Catholic doctrine?

Would there be any? Even 1 Timothy 3:15 is defensible.

Michael Demers said...

If it's a good translation it doesn't need an imprimatur. For liturgical purposes, however, it needs to follow the Nova Vulgata (more or less).

Steve Molitor said...

They don't need an imprimatur to publish. But they would need one for it to be used in Catholic education, sold or distributed in Catholic churches etc, I think. More generally it would a lot of Catholic minds at ease, mine included.

Christopher Buckley said...

I wouldn't use one without it. Even as much as I loved the RSV as a Protestant, it's knowing that it's been adapted for consistency with Catholic reading and that those adaptations were approved by the translators and by Church authority that enables me to use it.

I'd want the same assurance for the ESV.

I've been comparing the current ESV to the RSV-2CE in my daily readings, and I'm sorry to say I typically prefer the 2CE rendering in the rare occasions that they differ. Little choices that may be plainer colloquial English, but that cost us a bit of poetry without improving readability in the slightest.

"Tarry here, I beg you" isn't really that much harder to understand than "Please stay here," but it sure has a nicer ring to it (2Kings 2:2)

Similarly, in an otherwise identical Psalm 30, the choice of "that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent" (ESV) makes no sense whatsoever, compared to "that my soul may sing your praise" (RSV-2CE).

Now at least in the NT, some of this may be baked into the 1971 second edition RSV, and not a choice of the ESV revisors. Moreover, Im not sure the extent to which these are changes a Catholic revision would address.

But it underscores why I'd want an imprimatur to instill trust that the chosen renderings are consistent with a reading consistent with Church teaching.