My Sunday School Teacher, Mr. Dahlen, gave me my first bible. It was a blue NIV “gift” bible that he bought and gave to all of the graduating 5th graders that year and was very meaningful to me. I’ll never forget the inscription that read “Adam, may this book draw you closer to the one who can be your best friend.” Over the years it did. Mom bought me my first leatherbound NIV Study Bible, complete with my name in gold lettering on the cover. In college, one Religion prof used the RSV, the other used NIV. All that to say, I’ve pretty much been an NIV guy throughout my daily experience with the Scripture. There were a few times, inspired by other preachers, where I would dabble in the NLT, NCV, Living Bible, ETC, but always felt “at home” in the NIV. And I still do. So do a majority of other Christians, with over 30% being NIV’ers.
Since its 2001 release, there has been more and more attention being drawn to the English Standard Version or ESV, with pastors and leaders arguing that it’s a far better translation due to its literal style and lack of paraphrase.
esv-cover.jpgI checked my shelf and came across an ESV that I think I got for free back in ’01, so I’m checking it out. I was ready to brush it off until I read this fascinating (and short) article by John Piper, which you can read here. Piper gives some pretty convincing examples of how different the ESV is from the NIV. I see the differences but I’m not ready to jump ship.
It does force me to ask the question as to why I select a certain translation, though. Looking back, it appears that I’m an NIV guy because my church was. And that’s good — but I need to know for myself, so that I can say to the next generation “here’s why I read the _________” and be able to give an thoughtful answer.

Quick blogpoll — if anyone should ever comment here at RadBlog — what’s your favorite translation and why?

About radamdavidson

When I'm not blogging, I'm hanging out with my family, pastoring a church, or listening to vinyl. I think and write about Jesus, music, communication, organizational leadership, family whatnot, and cultural artifacts from the 1980's -- mostly vintage boomboxes. You can read my blog at, watch [RadCast], a daily 3 minute video devotional, or find me on socials (@radamdavidson). I also help Pastors in their preaching and public speaking (
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2 Responses to ESV

  1. The Edz says:

    It was my first translation as an adult bible reader. As I stood in the bookstore trying to decide on a version, I was drawn to the introduction that listed all the denominations represented by the NIV translators. So the ecumenical aspect was my main draw.
    Funny story: before buying it, I asked a store clerk if there were any other ecumenical bibles to choose from. He looked at me strangely for a moment, then said “well, there’s one here for 2.99, and the next cheapest one is 5.00”. I just shook my head and bought the ecumenical (and economical) NIV I already had in my hand!

    The Edz

  2. I keep two translations by my chair…the Message and the New Revised Standard Version (Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible). Like chips and salsa or pizza and pop (no beer in Free Methodism), the two seem to compliment each other. One gives me the spirit, the other the letter. It works for me.

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