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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Why Tenth Presbyterian Church Uses the ESV

Rev. Philip Graham Ryken explains why he and the elders of Tenth Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia chose the ESV as their church Bible. You can read a transcript of his talk on the ESV Bible Blog or listen to the talk as an MP3 file.

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At Sun Feb 05, 10:30:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. ESV

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. KJV

It was a very interesting article, Wayne, referring to the alternating stress pattern of the KJV. However, the ESV has lost a little bit of that by inserting 'hovering" here instead of moved, and I know this was a hard decision for the ESV team.

The choice of 'face' instead of 'surface' is not because of the metaphor of face, but to retain alternating strong weak stress pattern.(or strong, weak, weak)

However, I was an adult before I realized that void meant empty. Until then I always thought that 'void' was something that the earth lacked, along with form.

It is interesting though that many non-Christians feel strongly about the KJV as a landwark in the history of the English language.

At Mon Feb 06, 08:52:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

What a surprise that this pastor turns out to be the son of Leland Ryken! Yes, the son writes, "that made me even more cautious than usual, wanting to make sure that a decision about the translation was not influenced by my own personal connection like that". But then it is quite clear that he got from his father the idea that ESV has "exalted literary style" and is "a translation within the tradition of the King James Version that would preserve some of the literary excellence of that". And, despite his disclaimer, he presumably stands to inherit a share in his father's royalty earnings from the ESV, and therefore has a financial interest in its success. So it is no surprise that he allows his comments to be published on a site promoting the ESV.

He also writes: "I would also note the importance of theological precision, most notably to me the use of the word propitiation in the New Testament where it rightfully belongs." Well, what precisely is the meaning of the word propitiation? No doubt he can quote a meaning from theological dictionaries, but that would only give someone else's interpretation of the how the word is used in KJV. Apart from its context in KJV and other translations which have copied from it, this word is meaningless in English. Therefore his real reason for wanting it in a translation is not "theological precision" but a desire to follow the KJV tradition, without a concern for whether his congregation understands a word of it.

At Mon Feb 06, 10:49:00 AM, Blogger KAT said...

There's a radio interview with Dr. Packer on the ESV site where he explains that words like propitiation were used precisely because they would force someone to seek defintions for them.....Or something to that effect.

As far as "translating" goes, this is a strange philosophy to me.

He goes on to justify it by saying that such words were already in the process of becoming designated ecclessiastical/theological lingo by the time Paul employed them....

With all due respect to Dr. Packer, but I highly doubt it. Even the idea of "theology" itself didn't exist until the Age of Apologists (i.e. Tertullian or Justin Matyr), which was many, many years later.

Paul was simply writing letters to fellow communities -- And most of the early adopters of the gospel in those communities were lower class citizens. Bottom line. They weren't highly educated theologians or philosophers. They were just simple people with their hearts in the right place. He wasn't writing a theological treatise to the Romans or Corinthians. He was writing letters to common folk in a common faith.

At Mon Feb 06, 12:20:00 PM, Blogger Tim said...

Peter, with all due respect, I don't think imputing unworthy motives to Philip Ryken helps your case here.

I think your translation criticisms of the ESV (exemplified in the use of the word 'propitiation') are fully justified, but implying that Dr. Ryken came to his decision, at least in part, because he wanted a share in the royalties of the ESV is uncomfortably close to the sort of character attack of which members of this blog have sometimes accused ESV proponents.

At Mon Feb 06, 05:18:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Tim, I would like to withdraw any suggestion that Ryken junior came to his decision because he wanted a share in the royalties. Family loyalty would be a more probable motivation. But I would continue to hold that he and the ESV blog owners would have been better advised not to publish these thoughts because of the possibility of that his motivation is not entirely pure. Certainly he cannot be regarded as an entirely independent witness, and so his testimony is significantly less valuable than it would otherwise be.

At Mon Feb 06, 10:33:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I am surprised that the ESV doesn't return to "mercy-seat". I was brought up in a much more literal tradition than the ESV. We were taught the intracanonical connections on propitiation, which I find to be obscure in the ESV.


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