Context and Intent
It is my sincere belief that the Statement of Concern about the TNIV Bible should be retracted since it reflects poorly on the scholarship of the signatories, many of whom may now regret their involvement. Some of these same people are translators of the ESV. Those people are in a conflict of interest.
Update: Here is the question and answer.
Suzanne: I have been reading Aristotle’s Politics in Greek . I noticed the use of aner for people, that is man in the generic sense. I wondered if there were people on the ESV translation team who would be familiar with that kind of classical Greek language and that aner was used as a generic in Greek. Did you have people on the team who particularly specialized in that?
Dr. Packer: We had two people on the team, of whom I confess I was one, who had had a classical education and knew their way around Greek literature. We didn’t make, what I think would have been a mistake, of supposing that the gospels and epistles represent Greek on the model of any particular Greek author that I can remember. The two of us did occasionally have to talk to the people who had only learned Greek in order to do the NT, study the new Testament, you know, who didn’t know it as a dialect, as a language.
I interrrupted Dr. Packer to ask him who the other person was and he told me a bit about Bruce Winter. I inferred that by "the people who only learned Greek in order to do, to study, the NT" this meant the rest of the ESV Translation Oversight Committee other than Packer himself and Bruce Winter. However, it is certainly by no means clear that he intended this as a description of each one of these 12 men.
He later commented with regard to the authors of The TNIV and the Gender Neutral Bible Controversy, "Well, I am very surprised" [at their stating in their book that they had not known the classical Greek lexical meaning of adelphoi in 1997] "but then I had a classical education as you did." No names were mentioned other than the authors of this book. I had not heard of, or read any books by, the other members of the ESV translation committee, so I did not question Dr. Packer on this.
The truth is that his comment took me by surprise. I had simply not expected this. However, on reflection, after reading the TNIV and the Gender Neutral Bible Controversy, I would concur with reference to its authors. Dr. Packer's assessment seems accurate.
I think that I should describe a little of what I understood from Dr. Packer's reference to a classical education. For myself, and I believe Dr. Packer, a classical education means that we had studied many other books in Greek literature, before reading the NT in Greek. For both of us expectations had been put on us in high school that we would be able to read literature in Greek that we were not necessarily familiar with in English. This is what I think he meant, that we knew how to read a passage in Greek that we had not previously known in English. This is what I inferred.
For myself I started studying Greek in grade 10 and we read Homer, some history, the Apology of Socrates, etc. Vocabulary is studied apart from theological constructs. We used a Liddell Scott Lexicon. However, later I studied Hellenistic Greek and it was a very rigourous course, requiring a knowledge of Hebrew. Hellenistic Greek was studied apart from theology as a language and body of literature.
Ocassionally we did study a text from the NT but only as a stylistic exercize or commentary. It was assumed that we could read the NT books easily by then.
I do not know how Greek is taught or studied in a seminary.