Essentially literal translation is impossible!
The inclusive use of the generic “he” has also regularly been retained, because this is consistent with similar usage in the original languages and because an essentially literal translation would be impossible without it.I will leave to one side the inaccurate statement that the English generic “he” “is consistent with similar usage in the original languages” (in fact the English use of gendered pronouns is quite different from Greek and Hebrew grammatical gender) and focus on the last part of the above. This would seem to imply that “essentially literal translation” is impossible into languages which do not have a generic “he” or an equivalent pronoun. But does the ESV translation team really intend to teach this? For, since there is also a clear implication that “essentially literal translation” is the only fully valid method of Bible translation, the implication of course is that it is impossible to translate the Bible into some languages.
And those languages into which they seem to suggest the Bible is untranslatable include the dialects of English which do not have a generic “he”, which are spoken by the majority of speakers in the UK and Australia (including myself) as well as by a large proportion of US speakers. So, must at least 100 million of us be deprived of the Word of God in our own language?
Categories: Bible translation, essentially literal, ESV