Interesting: this post has made it into the commercial blogosphere. I suppose a couple of comments are in order. First off, I began preaching and teaching from the ESV when it came out and I am quite happy with that decision. It was confirmed for me when I moved to providence and found it was the new pew Bible.
The ESV corrects some misjudgments in the NASB. Of course, I’m not going to say that, as a whole it is better than the NASB since that would require a lot of study to back up. As translations I think they are both great. When it comes to the readibility issue, however, the ESV is far, far, superior to the NASB. The NASB prints the Bible with an individual paragraph for each verse. It looks like a checklist or a series of aphorisms. The ESV uses a normal paragraph format and has much smaller subscripted verse numbers. I wish a version could be produced in which all of this is marginalized (literally! put in the margins), but it is still quite good.
By the way, not only is the ESV an awesome translation, but their is a wonderful freebie. It is much easier on the eyes than the Bible Gateway website (though it provides a button to go there and compare texts side by side–if only they would add a koine option). Furthermore, thanks to this great feature, I now have a three-hole-punch folder of Romans without any chapter divisions or verse numbers–something that reads much more like an actual letter.
While I’m hoping for more great stuff from the ESV, there is one product which figures perfectly with my mass-market paperback rule: the ESV Psalter. This is a great little paperback that has helped me with personal devotions time and again (the Psalms, while also a hymnbook, can easily function as a prayerbook and should). Notice the warning on the main product page: “No center-column reference system.” That means that there is only one column a page. Aesthetically, this is gold. We have a book that reads like a book rather than a textbook.
So,no matter what translation you normally use, even if you are stubbornly resistant to the ESV marketing campaign, I think you should order this. The only comparable product I have seen are the Dover editions of the KJV Psalms, which, as an English speaker, I can’t use.
Arguably, one of the major distinctions of the Reformed communions, during the Reformation, was their use of the Psalms. If we want to see Reformation i our own day, the very best of the Reformation, recovering the Psalms as the hymn- and prayerbook of the Church is a needed step. Buy the Psalter for yourself and for stocking stuffers this Christmas. You won’t be sorry.