Why is the ESV the default translation for Logos (the company)?

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This post has 91 Replies | 3 Followers

Posts 178
Kendall Sholtess | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Jun 7 2014 9:21 PM

 The ESV seems to be everywhere on the Logos site, including reftagger, many (most?) training videos, etc. If you do some casual research you will come to the same conclusion as me.

 However, the ESV is neither the top grossing translation or the top selling translation. It never has been the most widely used translation by Christians in general. As of June, the ESV is still stuck at number 4 and five for unit sales and dollar sales. (Ref: http://cbanews.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2014/05/BiblesTranslations201406.pdf)

 Logos does not claim to take sides with any denomination, but markets to all kinds of Christians. Here are some points I would like to make:

1. They are a business, and they should be more neutral in regards to the issue of Bible translations. They should choose a default translation based on what is most commonly purchased/used by Christians. 

2. In addition, they should choose a default version that was translated by a team from all different theological perspectives, not only, for example, the Reformed perspective. (I am not saying anything against the Reformed perspective, that is not my concern here). If one examines the translation and review team of the ESV, one can see clearly that nearly all of the involved come from Reformed institutions or ones closely associated with the Reformed perspective.

3. Many contemporary and scholarly commentaries are based on the NIV, for better or for worse. Very few that I know of are based on the ESV.

 Overall, my opinion is that Logos should market to the whole church. Choosing the ESV as the default translation for the Logos website and training, etc., gives the wrong impression. (That they are promoting the Reformed faith).  I am not saying that the impression is right.

All translations have weaknesses, including the NIV and the ESV. Why not make the NIV the default translation of Logos, then, starting with Logos 6?

As the market widens, just go with the numbers.

NOTE CAREFULLY: This post is NOT about doctrine or theology. It's about Logos not giving a false impression, and going with the common sense reality that the ESV is not the Bible that most Christians use.

So please do not start a theological discussion. 

NOTE ALSO: I am neutral when it comes to  what translation is best. They all have good and bad points. I can and will use all of them.

Since that is true, in general I use the NIV for most things, due to the points mentioned above.

 

Posts 525
Kent | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 7 2014 9:46 PM

Some could argue that the NIV is not any more neutral than the ESV.

It does not matter which Bible is default. Just change it if you don't like it.

Posts 178
Kendall Sholtess | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 7 2014 10:04 PM

Note that whether the NIV is neutral or not is not my point at all.

There are no neutral translations. Not a single one. And I am not referring to the Logos desktop software. Rather I am referring to the website and training videos, resources that come out in ESV editions, etc.

My point was that the NIV is more widely used by far than the ESV, whereas the ESV is mainly promoted by the New Calvinists, the NIV is used by Calvinists, Arminians, "Calminians", Methodists, Presbyterians, etc., etc.

It seems that since Logos chose to use the ESV for everything, they stand on the side of the New Calvinists. Very few of other perspectives use the ESV regularly. I am concerned because the non-Reformed are being marginalized because if they want to buy resources that use the ESV as the default translation, they will under most circumstances be Reformed, neo-Reformed or the like. The same is not the case for the NIV. Take for example Don Carson, who uses the NIV in his materials. On the other hand we have Gordon D. Fee and those in his perspective, which both use the NIV.

I think the ESV can be perceived as more sectarian. Whether one sect is right or not is not my concern here. My concern is that as a business, Logos should not promote one sect over the other.

If one looks at the facts of the ESV, it's hard to deny my impression.

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 7 2014 10:19 PM

Rick Brannan and Bob Pritchett gave the official Logos answer to this question here and here, respectively.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 7 2014 10:20 PM

I'd argue that the default Bible should be the one heard by the largest number of English-speakers in their Sunday/Sabbath service as that should be the one that most preachers are preparing. I suspect that narrows the field to NRSV (NAB or JB) although I haven't calculated it out. Not that I would seriously suggest that be the default - merely pointing out that there is no single statistic that stands out as the defining value.

As it is simple to change to the default of your choice, I can't get too concerned about the default.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Erwin Stull, Sr. | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 7 2014 10:20 PM

I haven't thought about a default translation as being an issue, but since we are here, there will clearly be no winners on this. If by chance Logos does change the default translation, someone will have an issue with the new one. I really don't see this as making a difference one way or another since Logos is not a church, denomination, or other similar group.

Posts 178
Kendall Sholtess | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 7 2014 10:45 PM

@Rosie

 Thanks for the links! Actually, I understand their perspective. However, now the NIV interlinear has been finished.

 Sorry if my post sounds argumentative. Maybe it is, in some respect. But the fact remains that the ESV is a minority translation by quite a margin, and it has been used mainly by the Reformed in their literature in the past 10 years or so. I don't buy the argument that the reason the ESV was used was due to licensing agreements or especially the contention that the ESV is more "literal." Though I am not an expert in Greek or Hebrew, I know enough to follow the arguments between the scholars who blog about this issue.

I'd bet that there were a majority of Reformed types on the committee which decided to make the ESV the standard for the training videos, etc. If not, at least they weren't fully aware of the theological package which goes along with the ESV (is that possible?).

I just think it is high time for Logos to diversify. Target the majority, not only the minority. But give the minority options, of course.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 7 2014 10:48 PM

I remember back when the ESV was first announced in Logos promotions, which was around the same time the book was being released in print...there was this huge fan club of groupies (not just Logos, but in Christianity Today magazine and elsewhere) for this new Bible version that had effectively never even played a concert up to that point. I remember being distinctly surprised and annoyed by the whole affair. The only thing that I can relate it to since then is the coronation of Barack Obama as the heir apparent for the Democratic candidate for president (in 2008) when when he was chosen to give the keynote at the DNC convention in 2004. At the time, he had served approximately one year in Congress. I have read the ESV here and there at different times, and I have never been impressed by it. I'm not saying it's awful...just nothing to write home about.

Comparatively speaking, Obama proved himself as being more legit than the ESV has--he actually IS the president, whether successful or not. But the two do have one thing in common--their quick success was primarily political and premature as opposed to being earned.

Although the NASB occasionally goes with a more loose "thought correspondence" than I think is appropriate (and I almost never think it is appropriate), it nearly always will give the literal reading of the Hebrew or Greek in a marginal note. That, to me, is huge. There are a few readings or an occasional lack of needed notes in NASB that I think are stinkers, but those are very few. The combination of mostly literal translation along with inclusion of literal notes when using so-called "thought translations" makes the NASB my unchallenged first choice go-to Bible.

Btw, trying to understand prophecy using a "thought translation" Bible is about as likely to produce success as trying to cross the ocean in a Revell model airplane.  Tongue Tied

LightningTravel

Posts 178
Kendall Sholtess | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 7 2014 10:50 PM

By the way,

To all my ESV-loving friends:

Absolutely no offense intended! You are my brothers and sisters. And I fully respect you, honestly. So my concern is not against you, but it is for the church as a whole. Thanks for your understanding!

Posts 178
Kendall Sholtess | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 7 2014 11:00 PM

@ David Paul

Thanks for your reply!

You may be right on translation philosophy. Smile I don't know.

My contention though is not about that at all. It's about what translation is used by the church at large. I would say that the usage of any minority translation, no matter how "good," is promotion of a certain viewpoint, whether intended or not


 I am going with the assumption that it was not intended. If that is so, then it is time for Logos to switch the default translation for future projects (which haven't yet begun) to the majority translation. This is especially true since other issues have been cleared up.

 I have no comment on the Verbum web pages or resources. But a hearty greeting to my Verbum friends and brothers, as well!

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 7 2014 11:02 PM

Kendall Sholtess:

 Thanks for the links! Actually, I understand their perspective. However, now the NIV interlinear has been finished.

 Sorry if my post sounds argumentative. Maybe it is, in some respect.

I tend to agree with you, so need to be argumentative with me (and I know you didn't intend it as such Smile). I was just being the messenger to pass on Logos's (outdated) answer to this question from when it was raised before, since there's no guarantee they'll see this present thread and respond to it (they very rarely read and respond to the General forum).

Logos tries to be as neutral as it can, as a business, but sometimes it can't help but show its true colors: its historically conservative evangelical / Reformed roots (the core of their original user base). I'm pretty sure the selection of ESV as one of the first translations (if not the first?) to do an interlinear of was in part due to the fact that they simply preferred that translation. And likely still do. The company has diversified since those early days and has hired a number of people from other traditions, including Anglican, Lutheran, Catholic, etc. So if the decision were being made afresh now, they might choose something else. But historic decisions in companies have a way of getting embedded into their DNA, in the very fabric of the way they do business. This one doesn't seem like it's going to be easy to dislodge. They've got dozens of videos already made that use the ESV as the default.

I'm not defending their decision, so no need to push back on this. I'm just expressing my skepticism as to how likely it is that they'll change at this point. But I understand and agree with your frustration. Personally I'm happy changing my preferred Bible to something else and the standard default being ESV doesn't get in my way when watching videos and seeing RefTagger popups. But then again I come from the seminary where J.I. Packer teaches (and he was the theological editor of the ESV), so while it isn't in my top three or four versions, it is in my top 10. Not that I've read it much to know how I really like it. (T)NIV and NRSV remain my two favorites, because I'm most familiar with them. And KJV for historical/literary reasons. And The Message because I know Eugene Peterson too (though it's awkward for most study purposes, and cannot be interlinearized).

If you want them to change it, put it in as a UserVoice suggestion.

Posts 2038
Unix | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 7 2014 11:54 PM

IF Logos would decide to change English Bible version they wouldn't need to change anything but the RefTagger at first. I don't see the point of RefTagger having a fixed default version, why can't it be set to some other version? What I mean is that if I post with RefTagger I would like the system to recognize my preferred version, perhaps even on a book chapter or verse level (no, not the Logos desktop software settings) by identifying who posted:

Rosie Perera:
But historic decisions in companies have a way of getting embedded into their DNA, in the very fabric of the way they do business. This one doesn't seem like it's going to be easy to dislodge. They've got dozens of videos already made that use the ESV as the default.


It's not likely, but that's exactly why a discussion like this here on the forums is vital, so that a few more will become aware that they don't have to use anything others are suggesting.

Neither the ESV nor the TNIV or NIV are my favourites, I have no copies of them and have never use them, the only exceptions being a 1984 NIV New Testament (which I've never used) as printed matter, and the 1973 NIV New Testament included in a printed matter 8-translation Parallel New Testament:

Rosie Perera:
I'm not defending their decision, so no need to push back on this. I'm just expressing my skepticism as to how likely it is that they'll change at this point. But I understand and agree with your frustration. Personally I'm happy changing my preferred Bible to something else and the standard default being ESV doesn't get in my way when watching videos and seeing RefTagger popups. But then again I come from the seminary where J.I. Packer teaches (and he was the theological editor of the ESV), so while it isn't in my top three or four versions, it is in my top 10. Not that I've read it much to know how I really like it.


The NRSV would be a good choice as a default version, except that it uses gender-neutral language. Because it has the full Deuterocanonicals, because it is the official version for some Churches (for example the Catholic Church in Canada), and has a suitable language and formal equivalence, and has adequate Reverse Interlinear options (although I would prefer that they start selling at the New Testament and 39-book Old Testament Reverse Interlinears separately (in addition to offering the L4 Minimal Crossgrade)):

Rosie Perera:
(T)NIV and NRSV remain my two favorites, because I'm most familiar with them.


Without re-reading the more or less official replies from Logos, none of the best-selling versions would do because of the lack of the Deuterocanonicals or being too freely translated (NIV, KJV, NKJV, NLT). I think there are Verbum users who use the "protestant" videos - I don't know how many, Logos has some kind of user statistics:

Kendall Sholtess:
My contention though is not about that at all. It's about what translation is used by the church at large. I would say that the usage of any minority translation, no matter how "good," is promotion of a certain viewpoint, whether intended or not.

[...]
I have no comment on the Verbum web pages or resources. But a hearty greeting to my Verbum friends and brothers, as well!

Aply!
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Posts 249
DHG | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jun 8 2014 1:15 AM

Bookstore sales tell part of the story, but I found this article just as interesting.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2014/march/most-popular-and-fastest-growing-bible-translation-niv-kjv.html

Posts 178
Kendall Sholtess | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jun 8 2014 2:05 AM

 I like the KJV, too. I read in it and don't have any objection to it. I realize that there are text critical issues involved, but overall I think that textual critics tend to be overly dogmatic about their principles.

 Against Gordon Fee, I don't find the KJV to be difficult to understand at all. Even if there are some difficult words, it's a relatively minor adjustment to learn the older meaning. Perhaps the biggest problem is that, according to the data, young people graduating from high school are now far less literate than people born in my generation (1970s). One wonders if in a few years we won't be down to reading Baby Bibles in church. Or picture book Bibles. Stick out tongue

Ok, those in the younger generation who can use Logos are probably the exception. Smile

Posts 2038
Unix | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jun 8 2014 2:30 AM

I don't find the RSV hard to read, nor hard to find out the newest textual variant decisions in the NT:

Kendall Sholtess:
Against Gordon Fee, I don't find the KJV to be difficult to understand at all. Even if there are some difficult words, it's a relatively minor adjustment to learn the older meaning.

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Posts 126
James Milne Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jun 8 2014 2:40 AM

I travel quite a bit, and I see the ESV being used more and more extensively, especially in Asia where it now has wide acceptance in the Anglican churches. However, I notice that home groups in Asia tend to stick to the NIV.

I do think, however, that the ESV Study Bible is an outstanding resource for the layperson.

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JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jun 8 2014 4:58 AM

Kendall Sholtess:
I don't buy the argument that the reason the ESV was used was due to licensing agreements or especially the contention that the ESV is more "literal."

I don't have a dog in this fight. I am NOT reformed. I like the ESV. I like the NIV. I like other translations and use many. These two points, however, seem pretty hard to dispute.

1. The copyright owners of the ESV are much more generous about its usage than the NIV. Take as one example: They have provide us with the ESV audio FREE OF CHARGE. Another example: The NIV has been removed from base packages per copyright holders request. Additionally, the copyright holders refuse to allow the NIV84 to be sold. Sounds pretty restrictive to me. Wink

2. It is commonly agreed that the NIV is toward the middle of the "thought for thought" vs. "word for word" continuum. The ESV is considerably further towards the "word for word" side. You can't deny that. Take Galatians 1:2 as an example. The ESV has "brothers," while the NIV has "brothers and sisters." I am not opposed to the NIV translation here at all, but "sisters" isn't in the greek. The NIV has attempted to translate the idea behind the single word, translated as "brothers" in more "word for word" translations.

3. The ESV has actually begun to take a back seat within the Logos ecosystem. In its place: The LEB. Obviously since Logos OWNS the translation (and gives it away freely), it costs them less to use it. 

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Posts 178
Kendall Sholtess | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jun 8 2014 5:32 AM

 

  For everyone's information, I do like the ESV. I often place it within my favorite 5 translations. My only concern was whether it reflects the church as a whole. In the end, I just wanted to bring the issue back to awareness.

  If the copyright holders of the NIV are still so stingy, I understand Logos' reluctance to make it the default translation. Kudos to Crossway, then.

 Ok, now that you mentioned it, I am much happier with Logos using the LEB in the future. Whether the translators had an agenda.....I'd rather not even know. I have been using the LEB more and more, and have come to trust it as my backup Bible. Though it's not used by the majority of people in the church, as far as I can tell, I don't feel a theological agenda behind it.

 Let me say that Logos is one of the most honest, upright companies I've ever done business with. I'm proud to do business with them. I know some of them, and I call them my brothers and sisters in Christ. I also greatly appreciate the quality of all the work they do. Considering the complexity of the task, it's amazing how they've pulled things together.

 So how about it? Who is for the LEB?Party!!!

 

Posts 406
Paul C | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jun 8 2014 5:51 AM

I have no more issue with ESV than any other modern version. I see absolutely no agenda using it as an example. We are free to use whatever version(s) we choose. NIV is slipping down the list for all the reasons listed above. Possibly the biggest issue for me:  It borders on a paraphrase in many passages. I like the LEB ...A Lot. I have not made it my prioritized Bible. But it is definitely in the top 5 ... Along with the NASB, And of course KJV. The order and actual usage varies according to my needs and whims. In many cases, I consult far more than the "Top 5 Bibles" >>> I search until I find one that agrees with me. Stick out tongue

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Lynden Williams | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jun 8 2014 5:57 AM

I have been encouraging and promoting the new Sda Starter package and the use of Logos in general. 

Guess what the default version is for most Sda's and many churches (including Baptism which is the largest denomination. Drum roll....... KJV.

My preference NKJV, but it really does not matter to me.

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