This is part of Lord’s Library’s Bible Comparison Series. Our editors explore the English Standard Version vs. King James Bible so you can understand the major differences between each translation.
When looking for a new Bible for yourself or as a gift, comparing the different Bible versions is an ideal first step. It’s also important that one considers the various Christian Church denominations when Bible shopping so the reader can be comfortable with their translation’s version of English. Some churches mandate a precise edition as well, while others may be curious about which version of the manuscript their favorite Bible translation comes from.
.If you’ve ever asked the question “What’s the difference between the English Standard Version vs. King James Bible?” you’ve come to the right place. It’s in that spirit that our editors compiled this short resource by first offering a simple description of each Bible version, and then a comparison that highlights key contrasts. For each of the two Bible versions compared, Lord’s Library editors included links to our directories of the best editions, as well as the most popular products.
English Standard Version vs. King James Bible
What is the English Standard Version (ESV)?
Of the more modern, meaning-for-meaning translated Bibles, the English Standard Version most closely walks the line between literal, word-for-word translating and attempting to convey the meaning above all else. The first complete ESV Bible was published in 2001 by Crossway, as a revision of the Revised Standard Version. The team of over 100 evangelical scholars and pastors had a unique philosophy in translating this Bible: “Emphasizes word-for-word accuracy, literary excellence, and depth of meaning.”
The ESV remains a popular choice among evangelical churches. That’s because of its unique ability to walk that line between honoring the literal translations that preceded it (such as the RSV) while conveying meaning and modern language in an accessible way. This view is not shared by all though, as some believe that while pursuing this goal the translators have made a few grave errors in theology.
What is the King James Bible (KJV)?
The King James Version has stood the test of time and proven itself by becoming the best-selling English Bible translation of all time. This is because it boasts incredible accuracy to the manuscripts from which it was translated and a rich, vibrant language. The complete King James Bible was originally published in 1611 after being commissioned by King James VI.
The historical significance of this Bible translation is astounding, so much so that it has been credited with shaping much of the culture of the English-speaking world. Today, the King James Version still proves to be an effective and reliable translation, with its only caveat being that the language it’s written in is not friendly to the average reader.
English Standard Version vs. King James Bible; What’s the Difference?
For centuries, the King James Version has remained the number one English Bible translation in the world. The English Standard Version hash had a promising start. Based on the tradition of formal equivalence started by the King James Bible, the ESV carries on the legacy of that style but commits itself to modern language and the use of more recently discovered manuscripts. For these reasons, many will consider the ESV the more appropriate choice for home and church use. Others still love the Old English stylings of the King James Bible so much that they continue to use it to this day.
If you like the tradition of formal equivalence and are looking for a Scripturally sound Bible without the outdated language of the King James, the English Standard Version has proven itself to be a worthwhile choice.
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