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Sunday, July 10, 2005

ESV: a Bible translation for everyone?

Adrian Warnock has now posted the final interview with members of the ESV translation team. In this interview J.I. Packer, a great biblical expositor, addresses the same question that was answered by one or two others on the ESV team:
To what extent was the translation of the ESV Bible one consciously assisted by prayer and the Holy Spirit? How conscious of his work in illuminating and guiding our understanding of God’s Word were you in working together on this translation?
When I saw Adrian's post title I hoped that the interview was going to be about whether or not the ESV team felt that its translation was one that could be used by everyone. So, I guess we'll each need to answer that question on our own and from observing the responses of different segments of society to the ESV, whether they are children or older people, highly educated or lacking in much formal education. well acquainted already with the Bible and traditional church English or not, churched or unchurched, etc.

Thank you, Adrian, for hosting these interview questions. I still wish someone on the ESV team had answered the question I submitted which you, Adrian, gave them (and included in an interview post). But it wasn't answered, so, again, it may be a question that we will each need to answer for ourselves, and from observation, namely, to what extent does the quality of English in the ESV match the English which its users know best from their own speech and writing? Is the ESV written in the mother tongue of those who use it? Could the ESV become even more effective if it had a larger team of English scholars helping make the English of the ESV not only exegetically accurate, but also communicatively accurate, that is, communicate well to its users what the original biblical meaning was. The more grammatical and natural and higher in literary quality that English is, the more accurately the original meaning can be communicated to those who use the ESV. I, for one, am eager to read reviews of the ESV by English language scholars, professionals who have spent a lifetime reading good English literature, and, often, teaching others to write well in English. I guess I asked more than one question here, didn't I. They all attempt to get at my question which Adrian asked of the ESV team. Ultimately, one way to word the question is to paraphrase how Adrian titled his post today, "Is the ESV a Bible translation for everyone?" (Or is it basically only for churched invididuals who are already familiar with the "church English" that comprises the ESV?)

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2 Comments:

At Mon Jul 11, 12:32:00 AM, Anonymous David Dewey said...

Wayne, as so often you have got to the heart of the issue. ISTM that we have (and probably need to have)different Bibles for different cultures (churched, unchurched, inquirer, scholar, child, youth etc.) but this, sadly, makes sharing and communicating the faith all the more difficult.
David Dewey

 
At Thu Jul 14, 02:12:00 PM, Anonymous dcofchrist said...

Church English or Theological terms? Interesting question. The point is how much do we dumb down. I believe the ESV is about like the NIV in ease of read.

I do not belive the ESV provides all that much challenge. Certain theological terms will be in the text. Although most can read the text and understand most of what it is saying. I do not believe it churchese, but the text speaking. Do we tell people what to think like the Priests of the Middle Ages, or do we allow the Holy Spirit to do that. Understand that I am not saying make it as hard as possible, but don't dumb it down to the point that you are becoming interpretor rather than the Holy Sprit and text itself.

A great challenge indeed one I believe the ESV handles very well. Not perfectly but well.

 

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