Is ESV really an improvement?
...the ESV. It is an improvement on the KJV for today's speakers of English.But it is not an improvement at Matthew 5:9, where ESV has ruined the perfectly good KJV reading for the sake of a spurious ideology that "sons" must be used rather than "children". Well, the ESV footnote refers to the following, in its online preface:
In addition, the English word “sons” (translating the Greek word huioi) is retained in specific instances because of its meaning as a legal term in the adoption and inheritance laws of first-century Rome.But what is the relevance of Roman adoption and inheritance laws to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount audience? The Roman laws probably didn't even technically apply in Galilee, and Jesus' audience would not have been thinking in these terms at all.
More probably the real reason for this choice is that the translators wanted to follow the Colorado Springs Guidelines, which include:
2."Son" (huios, ben) should not be changed to "child," or "sons" (huioi) to "children" or "sons and daughters." (However, Hebrew banim often means "children.")Although there is a clause here there may be unusual exceptions in certain contexts, the ESV translators apparently did not recognise this as an exception. For they did not take the obvious point that Jesus' original word was surely Hebrew banim or its Aramaic equivalent and therefore should be understood as "children", or, since this applies to all ages, "sons and daughters".
In fact this is a case where the supposedly unusual exceptions may be more common than the rule, and so these hastily put together guidelines need revision. There are some places, such as Matthew 20:20, where υἱοί huioi refers to males only and so is correctly translated "sons". But, whatever the details of Roman adoption law, it seems clear that the various blessings promised in the New Testament to the υἱοί huioi of God are available to all regardless of gender, and whether or not the promises are on Jesus' lips or in Paul's letters. This is something which should be brought out properly in a good translation.
Categories: ESV, gender-inclusive, translation accuracy, Colorado Springs Guidelines