I would therefore like to apologize for airing what was not the whole story or full truth about the ESV. Different persons had different reasons for wanting this translation to happen. This is clear to me now. There are still problems with this translation, as with all such translations, but they should be assessed on their own merits on a case by case basis.I admire Ben for this apology. He has, in my opinion, now placed the focus where it should be for any Bible version, on its own merits, not on what one perceives to be the motives of its translators. Far too much harm has been done among Bible users from imprudent comments made about the perceived motives of translators of a number of Bible versions. Such comments cannot be verified and that is why we ask that they not appear on this blog. We who blog here make our own mistakes and we have invited you, our readers, to hold us accountable for them. Some of you have done that and even though it is never easy to hear such comments, we thank you for them. Iron does sharpen iron, as we noted in our preceding post.
The lesson I have learned from this is that assessing the motives of a team translation is not only difficult, it is often not really possible when there are many motives and reasons for such a thing.
I personally don't know if we will ever fully know exactly how the ESV originated, the timeline of who did what when, and the precise relationship of the ESV to the Colorado Springs Guidelines (CSG) which were created in 1997 (the ESV was published in 2001) by several on the ESV team, including Vern Poythress, Wayne Grudem, and R. C. Sproul. Besides the statements linked to in the preceding sentence, we also have a public record of statements from some of the ESV team's most public figures, and there are public statements that two recent versions follow the CSG, the HCSB and the ESV. I have found it difficult to reconcile some statements about the ESV with the recent official statement on the ESV blog, such as this:
The ESV developed from this perceived need, not as a reaction to other Bible publishers’ doings or to meet the Colorado Springs Guidelines.I don't know what the difference, if any, there is between translating according to the CSG and that the ESV was not developed "to meet the Colorado Springs Guidelines." But it is not my responsibility to try to reconcile all the statements about the ESV or the CSG made by those associated with them. If there are discrepancies, it is an issue for the ESV team to address--and I hope they do--not us on this blog. If there is more to the facts than what has been presented on the ESV Bible blog, they may come out someday. If there is no more than what is in the official statement, then that must be the end of this chapter of the story. We have enough to do on this blog to post on the thousands of more objective Bible translation details which can appropriately and constructively be addressed as best as we can.
Let us all try to move forward from here, evaluating Bible versions on their own merits, not resorting to broad subjective evaluations which cannot be substantiated empirically. Let us not demonize any Bible versions or their translators. There is good in each translation and there are weak points in each. Let us work to become better critics, in the positive sense of thinking critically, and let us use these critical thinking skills to help each other understand better the myriad of facets which make up adequate Bible translation. Critique can be destructive or constructive. Let us each resolve to contribute constructively toward better understanding of Bible translation principles and, where possible, revision of Bible versions so that we can have even better Bibles than we already do.
Categories: ESV, Ben Witherington