October 17, 2017

ESV Omega Thinline Bible Review

omega thinlineI have finally come to grips with people using their iPads and iPhones for reading the Bible. No longer do I frown at people who use such technology in church. Just the other morning yours truly wanted to read something in the book of Jeremiah, but I didn’t want to get out of bed and walk six feet away to retrieve my Cambridge NIV from a table, so I picked up my Nexus 7 tablet and, using the Bible Gateway app, I selected The Voice translation and started in. I didn’t develop a nervous twitch or backslide, so I guess it’s ok.

I have always been a book person. I have hundreds of books stuffed everywhere around my house. If I sit in a chair for more than just to tie my shoes, I have a book with me. Yet lately I have found myself reading mostly from my tablet, using the Kindle app. It is just a lot more convenient to order an eBook from Amazon and read it right away than to wait for a physical book to arrive, then try to find a shelf to stuff it on.

So I want you to know I am not some old codger when it comes to books. I’m OK with seeing someone in church in the pew next to me pull out their iPhone to read a Scripture. Well, ok, now I’m going to a Catholic church, and we all know Catholics don’t read their Bibles in church, so I’ll assume they are looking at a missal app and not checking scores.

But that doesn’t mean I am done with paperbound books, especially Bibles. I love leather Bibles, ones with really good leather. One of our sponsors is evangelicalBible.com, and they have the best selection of fine leather Bibles you will find. Their latest “find” is the ESV Omega Thinline Bible, and it may be the nicest leather Bible I’ve ever used. Crossway commissioned this edition to commemorate their 75th anniversary, and they did it right.

I will let you debate (silently) whether or not you like the ESV as a translation. Personally, I find it better than the NIV. I reach for The Voice when I just want to read. For more formal reading, I find the ESV as good as any. Your mileage may vary. What I want to talk about is the Bible as a book in your hands.

The book block—the interior of the book—is from Netherlands printer Jongbloed,  the best manufacturer of Bibles in the world. The type is a very readable 10.5 point font, and there is almost no bleed through. There is no center-column reference, making each page less busy and more enjoyable to read.

But the big seller here is the leather. Goatskin leather, to be exact. It is soft without being limp, and seems to mold to your hand. The binding is solid—this is a Bible that will last your lifetime.

It is not inexpensive, but evangelicalBible.com always seems to have sales. Their service is excellent. I’ve received three different Bibles from them and each time they have arrived quickly and well-packed.

I’m excited to have evangelicalBible.com as a sponsor, and can wholeheartedly recommend them if you want a fine leather Bible. And a great place to start is with the ESV Omega.

Comments

  1. I like the new NIV the best – it is a more honest translation in light of all the work done on the dead sea scrolls of language use and cultural references of the time. The ESV has a Calvinist and patriarchal agenda and I find I can’t trust it around things pertaining to women in leadership roles or areas that make Calvinism murky (always needing to flip to other translations to check what they are fudging).

    I am sure the new NIV has weaknesses, but they aren’t as blatant (except in Genesis 2, and trying to force the two creation accounts to fit by fudging the text), but that is the only blatant blind spot I know of.

    Who translated the Voice? I just noticed it on Bible Gateway and liked it, I was curious about it’s origins/history.

    • Calvinist agenda? The ESV started with the RSV as its foundation. There was absolutely no manipulative agenda in its translation. Your premise is unfair and simply not true.

      • You don’t think their is a patriarchal (or what they mis-call Complementarian) agenda to that translation?

        Let me help here. In NT Greek in/among is translated “en” in English. In order to make their translation NOT say Junia was an apostle, they take a very well used Greek word (en) and translate it “to”

        So “Junia, outstanding among the Apostles” becames “Junia, well known “to” the apostles (butchering the word “en” in the process). In order to help them bolster their case, they translate a few other verses with “en” into the word “to” (because suddenly this is an alternative meaning for in/among). That, and many more examples, in my view, is an agenda. The neo-Calvinsits cannot separate their Calvinist theology from their sexist theology, so they favour a translation that puts women into a place they want women to be in, without being honest when the text doesn’t line up with it.

        There are plenty of verses in the Bible that come down harshly against women (it was written and translated from a male POV after all), but I don’t advocate changing them around to suit my preferred reading of them, when I noticed what the ESV did with Junia, I dumped it stone cold and challenge anyone I know who reads it not to trust it. Gender issues are too large in the church right now to allow someone’s bigoted view to mess with a very simple sentence to translate. Junia was an apostle, and if the ESV translators can’t handle this truth, maybe they shouldn’t be translators. Who knows how many other verses they have deliberately messed with to fit their own agenda?

        Nope, don’t trust it. If you can’t be trusted with the little things, you can’t be trusted, in my view.

        • http://carm.org/junia-apostle

          To begin with, Junia(s) may not even have been female, but male. Secondly, the Greek preposition “en” often can convey the meaning”to”, even when translated “among”. You can be known “among” a group of people (of which you don’t belong) as someone who is X. You can equally be known “to” them as someone who is X. Junia(s) could either be well-known as one apostle “among” others, but the text also allows a translation that yields Junia(s) was well-known to/among the apostles (but not one of them).

          • Hi Mallen,

            Junia was a female in all copies of the Bible until the 11thC. The 3rd century Coptic, 4th century Vulgate, and fifth century Latin versions all use Junia, a female name. Here is a list of famous Christians who have commented on Junia being an apostle – Jerome, Origin, Chrysostom, Hatto of Vercelli and others. So, no I don’t buy Junia as male for a second. Any website supporting that hasn’t looked back beyond the Reformation. Since an 11th C manuscript copier mis (deliberately or not) copied it, the mis-copied version was more common in France and Western Europe. One of the mis-copied versions was used to translate the Bible when Protestants began translating the Bible out of Latin and into their respective European languages and dialects. But, go back to pre-mis-copied Christiandom and ALL manuscripts have Junia as a women.

            The Greek word ?? (en) which is usually translated as “in” or “among” in English.[12] En is an extremely common word and is used approximately 2830 times in the New Testament. The American Standard Bible, (one of the most literal English translations) never translates en as “to”. Not once in the *2830* odd occurrences is it ever translated as “to”! Hmmmm. Odd, isn’t it?

            Nope, you need to realize Junia is a female apostle – she is Sainted in the Eastern Orthodox church, which was around from the beginning, and named an apostle. They don’t ordain women into their priesthood, but they are honest about church history.

        • Wow. Sorry loo but I’m not buying it. The ESV is a great translation that the Christian leaders I respect and trust highly recommend. The original blog entry is about a fine old world hand bound Bible and not about the legitimacy of the ESV translation to begin with. It simply isn’t helpful nor does it bear good fruit to post sweeping statements to the effect that the ESV was translated with an underlying agenda to twist the actual meaning of the original writers. I became a Christian in 1983 starting off with the KJV and soon thereafter went to the NIV which I used for many years, then I changed over to the NASB and now the ESV has come to be my go-to Bible. I still own all the previous translations, value them all and read from them from time to time mainly comparing translations in study. I do not write any of them off as inherently unreliable knowing that there are strengths in each. To receive benefit from scripture is not primarily a cerebral activity, it is primarily a work of the Holy Spirit as He illuminates God’s Word to our hearts as we prayerfully seek God in his Word! I think sometimes Bible “scholarship” can lose sight of this and get tripped up on nuts and bolts and words. God lisps to even a layperson like me and I can POWERFULLY experience God as I immerse myself in his Word- even if I do not have a Doctorate in Divinity. If you do not like the ESV then that’s YOUR assessment but there are many Christians who commune with God within its pages who do not share your view.

          • The ESVs purpose was to counter the NIV’s (or some other popular Bible’s) gender-nutrel translation, so it’s very purpose was to push an agenda, like most bibles. So, I was right about it having an agenda. It was recommended to you by Christian leaders you respect, can I ask if they are Complementarians or Patriarchalists by any chance? If I am wrong, I will be happy to be corrected, but I have yet to see someone praise the ESV who is not a Comp. leader (ie Scott McKnight, NT Wright, and Ben Witherington don’t) who recommends it as the “best” translation. So maybe not unhelpful to you, but to many people, its attempt to push a complementarian agenda (sorry if that word gets autocorrected, I don’t think it is a real word and my computer randomly changes it when I push ‘post’), but translating Junia as a non-apostle is disturbing for a translation that prides itself on correctness. And, like it or not, it makes people wonder what else is mistranslated in the book. I would never use the ESV for gender studies, it has come down heavily on one side, and that doesn’t interest many people in today’s world. So, the caution is warranted, and very fruitful, as people should know what is happening to gender issues in translations. The Holy Spirit moves strongly in egalitarian denominations – Pentecostal, 4-Square, etc. and women minister freely in those denominations. So, when I see women being oppressed in the Spirit – not allowed to teach or preach during a Sunday Service, the Spirt of God prompts me to speak out. So, I am glad people enjoy the translation, but it comes, like most translations, with a “reader beware”. So, my assessment is valid, as many are like me and would not want to have scripture twisted to match up with 21st. C. evangelical gender politics.

            The Junia verses aren’t the only ones they have translated to favour a Complementarian point of view, either, so it is a problem and one reason I don’t bother with the translation, and my views may not be your views, but they are valid to people who want some balance/truth in the views on women in leadership. Junia was an apostle, and to deny that is disingenuous. Even the Catholic and E.O. churches support that in translation, despite not allowing women to be apostles, so why the ESV would obscure that, shows red flags for people.

        • Another point I would make is that you use the label “sexist” very comfortably. The fact is that in historical and contextual terms, the culture at the time of Christ was from the perspective of todays culture a “sexist” culture to use your term. Calvin did not invent this, it simply was the way things were. Regardless, I personally don’t align myself with Calvin as a matter of purpose to begin with. Point is, neither did the ESV translators.

          • I meant the Neo-Calvinists, not just anyone who is a Calvinist, I corrected it in my reply, but sorry for the mistake in the first post.

            Here is the true definition of sexist:
            1. Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women.
            2. Attitudes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender.

            Yes, the Neo-Cal crowd is sexist. The believe men are naturally better leaders, yet offer not proof. If one said men are generally stronger – well studies bear that out, so that would not be sexist, but to say women can’t lead because they aren’t as good as men at leading (or not naturally suited to leading) is sexist because it is based on nothing.

            They also say women aren’t as good as men when given authority. Not one scientific study verifies this, in fact, since they have added women to police forces, policing effectiveness has improved. So, those are sexist assumptions, not based on fact, just said to ban women from leadership/teaching in churches. Some, say it is purely due to the Bible, but I have yet to hear them call the big names, like Piper, out, for saying when women lead, things will go wrong because of their nature. Piper can’t hold a candle to the growth of Pentecostal women preachers in S. America or Africa, who have far faster growing churches and ministry influence that Piper does. So, in my view, that is proof in the pudding that these (T4G/TGC) men are sexist. If they would call out those views, but just stick to the Bible, I then I wouldn’t argue that, but those group leaders have said very sexist things about women, that don’t bear out in real life.

          • The only “agenda” I am perceiving here is a Feminist agenda Loo. The Bible is clear on God’s design and HIS definition of the “roles” of men and women. Typical to the Feminist movement you are fighting against God’s creation and order. This is God’s designed order, not domineering mean men who just want to keep women under their thumb! If you have a problem with the ESV, it seems to me that you are going to have a problem with any accurate translation of the Bible because the translators are simply translating what was originally written ACCURATELY. The problem is you are blaming the translators! From my perspective you and the whole Feminist movement have a problem with God’s creation and HIS designed order. Why is it SO important for you as a woman to “be in charge”, what’s the deal here, what’s the underlying foundational motivation? Is that a Christ-like motivation at its heart? Where is entrusting yourself to God the Father in Christ and humility, where is love and serving in love for the glory of God ALONE? To me, to read your statements only reveals a person who has a problem with an issue and a clear agenda to fight against established and sound biblical doctrine. If you feel that women absolutely MUST be in authority within the Church simply go somewhere where they do that, these days there are plenty of churches like that for sure. But why try to be divisive and fight against those who simply hold to (as I said before) established and sound doctrine and while your at it trash a great Bible translation?

  2. Sole of those look absolutely lush. The old RSV is conspicuous by its absence, as are Bibles with the Apocryphal books, but then, these are Evangelicalbibles. If I could muster up the desire and the money for another truncated Bible, though, that 10.5 point ESV would be sitting on my shelf post-haste.

    BTW, I found my unicorn.

  3. I really like the Voice. This says a lot when coming from me as I’m love the poetic cadence of the KJV. I’ve been using the Voice when I write curriculum for folks. It is just different enough that it make folks pause and think about the verses.

    I met one of their translation team at a conference in January and was able to quiz him heavily about approach, disagreements in the team, and what the team thought the Bible should reflect (100% literal vs imagery based). I was really impressed overall. http://www.hearthevoice.com

    • ” It is just different enough that it make folks pause and think about the verses.” I’ve started reading the Bible in French for that very reason — it has gotten to where I can hardly see what it’s saying in English any more.

      • In my scary youth, I traveled to France to help with a new Bible translation for the très malheureux one that my extremist group had to fix. That was until we couldn’t decide how extreme the translation had to be.

        Now, I can appreciate the variation in translations.

      • I am ALL with you Damaris! After 3 years as an uber literal, fundamentalist who read the bible through three times and memorized whole chapters in the KJV I burned out on reading the bible at ALL! What was the point? I KNEW what the next verse was going to say and I had my theology pretty well set, so it took all of the joy out of reading. It took 20+ years and a new approach to bible interpretation before I could read again. The NIV was the first to catch my attention, then The Message, and finally The Voice. If we cannot read the book simply for the pure pleasure of reading then we may as well chuck the whole enterprise.

  4. I’ve never heard of The Voice before, but I’ll have to check it out. For casual reading, I really like the New Living Translation.

    Also, the Holman Christian Standard Bible is simply excellent. I like it a lot better than the ESV, which leaves me cold so often. Some have called that one a slightly warmed over RSV. The HCSB is really more refreshing than the ESV, and picks up where the ESV falls on its face.

    The ESV really was put out as a reaction to the gender-neutral translations in the NRSV, though they are very inconsistent in their renderings. And in calling it ‘essentially literal,’ which is a meaningless oxymoron. It doesn’t even succeed in that, and it mystifies me in the fact that many extol it while condemning other translations like the NIV 2011, which isn’t as bad as people say it is. It doesn’t deserve the condemnation it has received. But then, Bible translation is a thankless job. No matter how good a job you do, somebody is going to condemn you. Translations have been criticized, even burned, and sometimes the translators were burned.

    • You’re right in that no one translation/paraphrase is going to please everyone. They all have their ups and downs. Honestly, and sticking with the point of this post, I find myself most often picking up a Bible based on how it feels in my hand. And thus, this Omega ESV is getting a lot of “hand time” for me right now.

      • No problem, Jeff. I just looked up the site and it has me drooling at the premium Bibles there. I wish I had the money to plunk down for some of them. I like the smell and feel of a quality leather Bible.

    • ” gender-neutral translations in the NRSV” Gender neutral is for people who read without nuance. If you understand the times and culture of the writers then y6u won’t be tripped up by the, seemingly, gender specific text. It seems as if some translators believe that bible readers just park their brains and need someone to lead them instead of the Holy Spirit.

  5. kansaswheat says:

    Jeff, welcome to Holy Mother Church.

    Try the Knox Translation, available at Baronius Press. The web page for it seems to be all hype but most of it is true. I use the Douay-Rhiems most of the time but the Knox is quite fine.

  6. I wonder if there would be a market for retro scrolls? A person could feel a connection to the past as they read their scroll to candlelight, with the heat or a/c turned off, dipping a crust of bread in some stew.

  7. I can certainly identify with the love of a real book in one’s hand. Also, an OLD book, having a number of books dating back to the mid-19th century. It’s a feeling that no electronic device can give.

    Having said that, I find myself doing most of my reading/studying online, or with my software, for convenient’s sake. I still prefer the NASB for study, and the NIV for reading, although Eugene Peterson’s “Message” is refreshingly different for casual reading.

    However, despite all that, Ihave a book/magazine rack in each bathroom, and books scattered about the house as well. (can’t pack the netbook EVERYWHERE)

    Ultimately, the’best’ Bible is the one you read…..regularly!
    Blessings

  8. New Jerusalem, large print edition… only because I can actually see the words (single column on each page). I spend enough time on the computer at my job that I’d rather hold a book in my hand…..

    • MelissatheRagamuffin says:

      I like the New Jerusalem, but it’s just too cotton pickin’ big! It would be like going around with a dictionary.

  9. Although I am on the computer much of the time, and I use Accordance for study, when I want to just read, or preach, or teach, a Bible in my hands is what I have done for almost four decades. Not opposed to technology, but a well worn/used Bible makes it easier and faster to find what I want. I recognize things by where they are placed on the page, as well as literary context, etc.

    Regarding translations, this is a favorite topic for me. As for The Voice, I have read sections of it, but there are many areas which make The Message look like a formal equivalence translation. For me, for daily reading and quick overviews, God’s Word (http://www.bakerpublishinggroup.com/godsword) is an excellent translation, better than NLT. And I am not a fan of either ESV or NIV.

    For me, I use the Hebrew and Greek, but if I have to turn to one English translation it is NAS, with then comparisons with 5-7 other translations. In worship for oral reading we use either HCSB or GW. Both work very well, but both have some weaknesses. For HCSB, the use of technical jargon “propitiation” is a stumbling block. For GW, the use of “God’s approval” instead of “righteousness” in the NT takes a little to get used to, but is workable. Note, too, that GW is the only translation in which an oral English stylist was full time on the translation team (this began almost 25 years ago). Orally, no other translation does quite as well (I’m not talking about the archaic, but beautiful KJV).

    I serve a congregation in an area in which the unchurched rate is 98%, so most of the people coming to the church have no church or Bible background… even not knowing what chapter and verse numbers are.GW and HCSB work best in this environment.

  10. Jeff, if you like a good feel in your hands and the ESV is a read you can enjoy, check out the “Ignatius Bible.” Basically, NRSV is for mainliners, ESV is for Evangelicals, and Ignatius is the Roman Catholic RSV update, second edition. I am quickly finding it to be the best of the three in terms of language, clarity, readability, and lyrical phrasing. It’s also dirt cheap by comparison. My NT/Psalms came in a beautiful blue leatherish something with nice iconography on the front, it was less than $20. Full Bibles (plus the apocrypha!) go for under 40, and while they may not be the kind of “top end” editions offered by the sponsor, they are remarkably good deals for the money, with a great translation and readable typesetting.

    I wish the Protestant world would give Catholic translations a fair shake, this one is true gold and navigates the the middle way between mainline and Evangelical camps, staying true to tradition and not bending over backwards for political correctness, while still having an eye to literary beauty and modern scholarship. For not being top grain leather, it feels great in your hands!

    • Miguel,

      As an FYI, the NRSV was the required text for papers at the evangelical seminary I attended.

      • Right. But it was the product of the mainlines, and catered to their demographic with its theological and political concerns. It’s a great translation, I use it all the time, but it tends to thumb its nose at tradition because our modern scholars are so much more enlightened than the translators of, say, the septuagint. Plus their brutalization of Psalm 22 is unforgivable. I’d prefer to use this translation for longer narrative passages.

        Every translation has their target market, even though they can be more widely appreciated. NKJ and NASB generally go toward the fundamentalist, dispensationalist, and religious right types, and politically correct, gender neutral, less strict translations seem to appeal more toward the left and youth. Baptists like the HCSB, Reformed like the ESV. In the RSV-CE I’m seeing a little of the best of both worlds. It’s basically the NRSV with traditional interpretations restored.

    • I guess that leaves the NIV for those crazy Charismatics… 🙂

      That’s actually the translation I grew up reading the most. I did sometimes hear pastors read from the KJV depending on their age, but it seemed like the NIV was and still is the translation of choice in the AoG and similar churches.

      • I was raised on the NIV by those crazy Charismatics. It’s not bad, and I love TNIV, but I prefer to rely on a more literal translation for my main read, and use a dynamic equivalence translation as a supplement. These days I’m just too lazy to crack open a second translation. If I do, I’m using a computer for study and reading them all. I think NLT and HCSB together are eating away the NIV’s market. At this point, I’d rather have a translation done by the church than by a secular corporation.

  11. Actually, the print bible I use most often is an ESV as well—an ESV Compact Bible, bound in soft Corinthian pleather.

    Otherwise my print bibles are gathering dust on the shelf, ’cause I use Accordance whenever I’m on my Mac, and BibleGateway whenever I’m not. I actually get annoyed when I can’t read five translations plus the original at once. I’m such a spoiled first-worlder.

  12. I use the Ignatius for study, RSV CE on my ipad. If you see me at mass, I use iBreviary. Print is big enough to be read 3 or 4 rows back so you know I’m not answering texts.

  13. The Christian Community Bible was translated by a Frenchman for Filipinos. The translator’s commentaries a great, and are written from developing world perspective. It’s very expensive to buy in print for some reason, but you can download the bible off the web: http://www.bibleclaret.org/bibles/eng_NT.htm

  14. My spouse and i was raised around the NIV by means of these ridiculous Charismatics. It’s so good, along with I adore TNIV, although I favor to count on a more literal translation with regard to my major go through, along with utilize a dynamic equivalence translation as being a product. Currently I’m simply way too care-free to break wide open another translation. Easily do, I’m using a personal computer with regard to review along with looking at them all. I do think NLT along with HCSB collectively are feeding on away your NIV’s current market. At this stage, I’d go for the translation carried out by the religious organization than by way of luxurious company.

  15. “I will let you debate (silently) whether or not you like the ESV…”

    “Silently” he said, and yet almost every comment is about Bible versions. Anybody want to be helpful and actually comment on the Omega Bible, the actual subject of the article?

  16. MelissatheRagamuffin says:

    I really wish NIV would come out with a Catholic Edition or at least an edition that has the apocripha in it. I really like NIV but have been using NRSV lately because I wanted a Bible that has the deuterocanonical books in it.

    Jeff, when did you start going to a Catholic Church? I missed that happening.