Is the ESV the "easy-reading" bible translation?

Is the ESV the "easy-reading" bible translation? August 13, 2005

Every now and then facts come along and expose a set of myths. The myth of the day is that when choosing a bible translation you have to balance between accuracy and ease of reading. Most people, when the ESV is mentioned wouldn’t immediately think it was an easy read- it is after all marketed as the “accurate” version. I have found figures that may surprise you.

Amazon.com have introduced yet more tools to help us search and compare books. Their “inside this book” feature now gives a wealth of readability statistics for a range of bibles. Interestingly, of seven major bible translations I examined, on every single statistic, the ESV comes out as the easiest read. To come out easier even than the Good News Bible is quite an achievement.

There are lots of reasons for choosing a bible translation, but it seems that ease of reading should not prevent us from choosing the ESV. I have a whole load of other posts on the ESV for your interest.

UPDATE
I provide the figures below for historical interst, but readers should note that I made a basic and foolish error in the figures I used for the ESV- please see my follow-up post for more information and the correct figures for the ESV. The conclusions I draw in this post are in fact erroneous as they are based on the wrong data for the ESV.

Fog Index:
ESV: 7.7 (12% of books are easier to read, 88% of books are harder to read)
NIV: 10.5
KJV: 13.5
HCB: 10.0
NASB: 12.5
GNT: 9.9
TNIV: 10.7
A higher Fog Index means a book is more difficult to read

Flesch Index:
ESV: 80.8 (4% of books are easier to read, 96% of books are harder to read)
NIV: 71.5

KJV: 65.0
HCB: 72.7
NASB: 68.0
GNT: 72.9
TNIV: 71.0
A higher Flesch Index means a book is easier to read

Flesch-Kincaid Index:
ESV: 5.1 (8% of books are easier to read, 92% of books are harder to read)
NIV: 7.8
KJV: 10.9
HCB: 7.4
NASB: 9.8
GNT: 7.3
TNIV: 8.0
A higher Flesch-Kincaid Index means a book is more difficult to read

Complex Words:
ESV: 6% (9% of books have a smaller percentage of complex words, 91% of books have a larger percentage of complex words)
NIV: 8%
KJV: 7%
HCB: 8%
NASB: 7%
GNT: 8%
TNIV: 8%


Syllables per Word:

ESV: 1.3 (2% of books have fewer syllables per word, 98% of books have more syllables per word)
NIV: 1.4
KJV: 1.4
HCB: 1.4
NASB: 1.4
GNT: 1.4
TNIV: 1.4

Words per Sentence:
ESV: 12.7 (26% of books have fewer words per sentence, 74% of books have more words per sentence)
NIV: 18.4
KJV: 27.2
HCB: 17.2
NASB: 24.1
GNT: 17.0
TNIV: 18.9


Browse Our Archives