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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Like his brothers and sisters in every way: Hebrews 2:17

This is intended to be my last in the series on Christ as human. Here Christ, our high priest, is said to be like his human brothers and sisters in every way.

    For this reason he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Hebrews 2:17
Some have disapproved of this, asking how Christ can be like his sisters in every way. I might perhaps have prefered that the TNIV has translated adelphoi as 'his own people' instead of 'brothers and sisters' in keeping with the pattern established in Acts 7:23.

    When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites.
However, 'brothers and sisters' seems equally accurate. If someone still questions the phrase 'in every way', let me point out that neither men nor women as a collective are like each other 'in every way'. The intent of this verse is clearly stated in the context, that he be able to sympathize with our weaknesses.

    For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:15
How soon we forget the most pressing cause of human suffering throughout history. Up until the middle of the last century and the discovery of antibiotics, it was a common life experience to suffer the loss of a child or loved one, a member of one's family or close friend, in an unexpected and untimely manner, through illness or violence.

This is what I had always understood from this verse, that Jesus sympathized with the pain and suffering of those he loved. Due to modern medicine, we are a generation of people who expect to go through life without losing a child. I well remember as a child being offered a steady diet of novels from the 19th century, longing for just one in which a child did not die. (except Alice!)

I have been sleeping on a cot at the hospital this last week, watching my own child as the doctors diagnosed the cause of her recent relapse. However, she is now on the appropriate antibiotics and beginning to recover.

In this verse, it depends on how we define being human. Do we define it terms of differential male and female needs and attachments, or in terms of our common needs and attachments? Does Christ sympathize more with men than with women? I find this so strange I can hardly write it - how is that there are so many complaints against the translation 'our brothers and sisters'? Never mind.

To expand the concept of human needs, I would like to offer Maslow's hierarchy as a provisional framework. First, the physical and safety needs, then the needs of love and belonging, of independence and esteem, cognitive and asthetic needs, and finally the needs of fulfillment and mission. So we read the Jesus was tired, hungry and in pain, mortal, sorrowing for those who died, lonely and disappointed in human relationships, not recognized by his own community, and burdened by the need to fulfill his mission. He suffered in order to be able to fully sympathize with us.

I would like to suggest that it is the quality of being human and the nature of basic human needs that enables men and women to share a common culture and read a common literature, and that is why ultimately we can read the same Bible in the first place and talk about it. We share common cognitive and aesthetic needs, and a common need for fulfillment and mission.

Here is one verse of a poem that I read last night, written by the Persian poet, Hafiz, in the 13th century on the death of his son. (tr. Gertrude Bell)

    He sought his lodging in the grave - too soon!
    I had not castled, and the time is gone,
    What shall I play? Upon the chequered floor
    Of Night and Day, Death won the game - forlorn
    And careless now, Hafiz can lose no more.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

How Bible found a popular language

This recent article in the Boston Globe on the history of and tensions over translating the Bible into the vernacular is interesting.

Rich Barlow, the journalist, begins:
As old as faith is humanity's craving for faith expressed in the local tongue. We want to praise the incomprehensible divine in comprehensible language.
He ends:
Is the vernacular an unalloyed good? For those traditionalist Catholics in the 1960s, the fact that they might not have understood Latin only added to the mysterious allure of the Mass, a fitting tribute to the majesty of their God.

Hill feels sympathy for the sentiment. But more important to worship than sound or ritual, she argued, is meaning. The people of God should understand what they're saying to God.
For those who are not traditionalist Catholics, but who prefer traditionalist Bible translations, we could paraphrase:
the fact that they might not have understood the Church English only added to the mysterious allure of traditionalist Bible versions, a fitting tribute to the majesty of their God.
I think that there is a sincere desire among many to honor the majesty of God using non-vernacular language. Obscure, mysterious, outdated, non-standard language helps give them a feeling of sacredness and majesty. I, on the other hand, am a language populist. I prefer the approach of Jerome, Wycliffe, Tyndale, and Luther to use the vernacular (i.e. common language) for Bible translations. I find majesty in the power of the biblical message expressed in standard dialects of English spoken today.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Favorite Bible Verses

Today's post at the ESV Bible blog lists favorite Bible verses that blog readers have submitted. I always enjoy learning what someone's favorite Bible verse is and why it is their favorite. I have been enriched by reading that post's list of verses and why people like them so much.

I have several favorites myself. It's difficult to call a single one my favorite. Here are some of my favorite verses in favorite wordings:
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps. 37:4, NASB, NIV, ESV)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the LORD in everything you do, and he will show you the right way. (Prov. 3:5-6, TEV)

Is that a joyous choir I hear? No, it is the Lord himself exulting over you in happy song. (Zeph. 3:17b, LB)

I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without me. (John 15:5, CEV)

Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity. (Rom. 12:2, Phillips)

"Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that." (Eph. 5:1-2, The Message)

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Phil. 4:6, NLT)

When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God—who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty—and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him. But he must ask in sincere faith without secret doubts as to whether he really wants God's help or not. The man who trusts God, but with inward reservations, is like a wave of the sea, carried forward by the wind one moment and driven back the next. That sort of man cannot hope to receive anything from the Lord, and the life of a man of divided loyalty will reveal instability at every turn. (James 1:2-8, Phillips)

But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away. (1 John 1:9, CEV)
What are some of your favorites?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Review: The Bible at Cultural Crossroads

A few days ago I posted on the book by Harriet Hill which I have been reading, so I could write a review of it for EMQ. Here is my review as I submitted it to the journal this Friday:

The Bible at Cultural Crossroads: From Translation to Communication

Harriet Hill. St. Jerome Publishing, Manchester, UK M23 9HH, 2006, 280 pages, £25.00 ($55.09).

--Reviewed by Wayne Leman.

"We have had the Bible in our language, but we still couldn't understand what it meant." That's what Hill's main assistant said to her (p. 64) when she was conducting the research for this book. Why can't many Bibles, even ones that are translated well, be understood? And what can be done about it?

Hill answers these questions in this major rewrite of her dissertation submitted to Fuller Theological Seminary. She writes from her experience as an SIL linguist in Africa, where she helped translate the Bible for the Adioukrou people of Côte d'Ivoire.

Gaps between the cultural contexts in which the Bible was written and those of people for whom it is translated create problems for understanding the Bible. Hill became so concerned about this issue that she conducted field research in which she tested several translated Bible passages. She presented them to Adioukrou with varying amounts of information supplied about the original biblical contexts. Not surprisingly, understanding of the translation increased significantly as the cultural context of a passage was clarified. More than 20% of this book are rich appendixes of Hill's field tests and results.

Hill describes several kinds of "contextual adjustment materials" which increase understanding, including Bible book introductions, section headings, footnotes, illustrations, glossaries, drama, and Bible storytelling. We could also mention Bible study and Bible background books, and Bible classes.

Hill writes from the perspective of Relevance Theory (RT). RT emphasizes that much communicated meaning is unstated. We figure out unstated meanings inferentially.

This book reads best when Hill writes in her own voice—clear and personable, often with a touch of humor. It is more difficult to read when she quotes from or uses the technical vocabulary of RT. Ironically, while RT is about communication, its practitioners often write in a way that is difficult for others to understand, as when Hill quotes:

"An assumption is relevant to an individual to the extent that the positive cognitive effects achieved when it is optimally processed are large"

Fortunately, it is possible to skip sentences like that and gain a great deal from the rest of the book. It would be helpful if there were a glossary in this book explaining technical terms used.

This book is valuable for its clear, practical suggestions for how Bible translators and other missiologists can better communicate to people who have cultural assumptions different from those of the Bible.

Check these titles:

Gutt, Ernst-August. 1992. Relevance theory: A Guide to Successful Communication in Translation. Dallas, TX: Summer Institute of Linguistics, and New York, NY: United Bible Societies.

Weber, David. 2005. A Tale of Two Translation Theories. Dallas, TX: SIL Electronic Publications.


And what is the relevance (!) of this book to English Bible translation? Exactly the same relevance that it has to translation of the Bible anywhere in the world. When an English Bible is translated accurately, following scholarly exegesis, and perhaps is even worded in natural and clear English, and yet its readers do not get the meanings intended by its authors, something needs to be done to help those readers derive the original meanings from the text. Gaps can be filled in with Bible teaching or interpretational helps included with the translation, as footnotes or other kinds of study notes. Some culturally implicit information that was present in the meaning of the original biblical texts can be made explicit, but this needs to be done with care so that the text is not expanded to sound like a commentary. Other "contextual adjustment materials" described by Dr. Hill can be developed.

Bibles which can be accurately understood by their readers are better Bibles.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

2 Peter 1:21 in TNIV and ESV

There are many things I could say about Adrian's discussion of Cows, Dogs and Political Correctness. I have already made some of them in comments on his blog, including that just as I would not presume to contradict him (a medical doctor) on medical matters, he should not presume to contradict experts on Greek and linguistics (not referring to myself!) in their field. Materials written for lay people, whether on medical or language matters, have their place, but that place is not for arguing with experts.

For now I will just make one point here. Adrian has reproduced 2 Peter 1:21 from the ESV reverse interlinear and on this basis has made an accusation about
the terrible laxness with the actual WORDS of the text that the TNIV shows in the rest of this verse. This is immediately apparent when you look at the reverse interlinear of the ESV version. The text itself does not say “prophecy never had its origin” — it says “no prophecy was ever produced.” The text does not say “prophets though human spoke from God” — instead it says “men (or if you prefer, people!) spoke from God.” The word “prophet” is nowhere to be found in the Scriptures here.
The problem is that Adrian is reading the reverse interlinear on the assumption that ESV is actually a perfect literal rendering of the Greek, when it is not. This reverse interlinear distorts, even biases, his whole view of the text.

Actually the Greek text does not say “no prophecy was ever produced”, or even a literal Greek equivalent of that. The ESV "no" has been paired with the Greek οὐ ou, but this Greek word does not mean "no" (a negative adjective - that would be οὐδείς oudeis) but "not". The more literal rendering is “prophecy was not ever produced,” or “prophecy was never produced.” That's getting more like TNIV.

Now I don't want to defend TNIV's “prophets, though human”. I understand Adrian's objection to this, which is a helpful clarification but not one which has a part in an essentially literal translation like ESV. (My opinions about essentially literal translations are well known, so I won't repeat them here.) But let's look and see if there is any further basis for Adrian's more general accusation that TNIV is showing "terrible laxness with the actual WORDS of the text".

For this, and to avoid the bias necessarily introduced by a reverse interlinear, I have prepared my own non-reverse interlinear of the Greek text (no relevant textual issues here), ESV and TNIV for 2 Peter 1:21:

ESV:no2For1by the will7-9of man,10-11
TNIV:never3For1will,10in the human7-9

was… produced4,6prophecy3ever5
had its origin4-6prophecy2-

but12by22the Holy23-24Spirit25as they were carried along17-21
but11by23the Holy24-25Spirit26as they were carried along18-22

spoke15from16God17prophets, though human,12-14

If we ignore the very last part of this, TNIV's “prophets, though human”, the ESV and TNIV look remarkably similar, don't you think? It would take an extreme literalist pedant to complain that TNIV has combined "not... ever" into one word "never". I can understand that some don't like TNIV's "the human will", but even apart from gender issues that is decidedly better than "the will of man", which suggests to me some kind of corporate will of the entire human race. Why (since Greek has no indefinite article) did ESV not render "the will of a man"? Could it be that they were in fact too embarrassed to make the passage so clearly male-oriented, without support from the Greek, and so tried for generic "man" without the article which is still understandable as gender generic? But then maybe they just copied KJV.

Well, my conclusion here is that there is little to choose between ESV and TNIV on this verse, even if judged by the literalist standards Adrian is applying, as long as those standards are applied in an unbiased manner. The only reasonable point of objection to TNIV is “prophets, though human”, but the difference between ESV and TNIV here comes from their different overall translation philosophy.

Friday, August 25, 2006

New Berkeley Version: the human being

If I appeared a little frustrated in the last three posts, it was simply this. I wanted to start right away to mention what I have found on the history of using 'human' instead of 'man' in a Bible translation. I always feel a little tired when given to Sisyphean tasks such as the former 3 posts.

The Berkeley Bible, translated by Gerrit Verkuyl, started in 1936 with the NT published in 1945, wins the prize so far on 'human being'. The significance of this is that it was actually completed before Simone de Beauvoir posited that most treacherous notion, that woman should be considered a fellow human being! Her treatise was published in French in 1949.

This is from Philippians 2: 7-8

    he came like human beings, so recognized in looks as a human being... Berkeley Bible
    Maybe someone can supply more information on the Berkeley Bible and help us assess this translation in terms of its 'feminist' agenda.

    However, the New English Bible, 1961, leaves us in no doubt about its credentials! Here is 1 Cor. 14:35,

      It is a shocking thing that a woman should address the congregation. NEB
    Lively and colourful it is; feminist it is not. Here is Phil 2:7-8,

      Bearing the human likeness, revealed in human shape. NEB
      I have not, so far, found a trace of a fuss over the expression 'human shape'. I have not found a statement declaring that there is no such thing, only a male shape or a female shape. I suspect that the translators of the NEB, who were accused of many things, were not accused of feminism.

      It is interesting to note also that the NEB is responsible for the expression 'himself ----' as in 'himself human'. Here is 1 Tim. 2:5,

        For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus, himself man. NEB
      This expression 'himself ----' was remarked on by both Dr. Köstenberger and Adrian as unusual, not accurate and not proper English, supposedly a phrase invented for the purpose of introducing 'human' instead of 'man, thus helping to 'neuter' the text.

      Oddly, no such thing, this is simply not true. For some people, there is a bogeyman hiding under every bed. Unfortunately, with the NEB and the Berkeley Version, it is not possible to do as I did with the ESV, go and ask the editor. Not believing in bogeymen, I try to interact with real people.

      This discussion has spread a little in the blogosphere, in one case, we get this contribution,


      And elsewhere, Henry Neufeld is kindly taking some of my ideas and rendering them in more articulate English. Henry also asks,

        Now whether it was feminists who got it started or not, I think using “human” is a much better idea, and makes the second sentence clearer.
      So, Henry, I hope this post helps to answer your question. It doesn't look like feminists to me.

      Update: Our anonymous commenter points out with reference to 'himself man',

        Alas, no, it appears to be due to the 1881 Revised Version -- which was, in fact, not particularly noted for the strength of its English Grammar. It is also found in the American revision of the RV, the ASV.
      Some kind of latent slur against its grammaticality. Hmm. But tangential to feminism, nonetheless.

      Thursday, August 24, 2006

      Response to Adrian, part 3, neutering

      Adrian writes,

        There is no doubt that English is in a state of flux where the use of the word 'man' - with or without pronouns such as 'he' - is being attacked for political reasons connected with a feminist agenda. In fact, at least in some quarters, the battle seems to have been lost and ancient English language structures consigned to the trash-heap of history. The question is whether our Bibles should go along with this neutering of our language or whether we should try to use words that are, at times, intended to be inclusive whilst still retaining a sense of male representedness.
      Adrian ignores the fact that using both 'human' and man' in English to translate Greek makes the translation more transparent to the Greek, not less. This is not a feminist agenda. He then posits that replacing 'man' with 'human' neuters the language. How does calling a man a human neuter anything?

      Adrian is, in fact, in spite of this kerfuffle, a warm and generous human being. I hope that doesn't hurt, Adrian! Do you really find this neutering? I just don't have the expression 'warm man' in my vocabulary, so 'human being' comes into my head first. It is intended as such a compliment, such an expression of fellow feeling, such an inclusive and friendly expression. And please don't read sarcasm into this. You have been welcoming and friendly to us, albeit with your own quirky humour.

      Another odd thing is that I have such a warm place in my heart for many translations that use the word 'man' in the generic sense: the KJV, the original GNB, the NEB, etc. But the ESV simply cannot decide. It sometimes translates anthropos as people and sometimes as man. It is ambiguous and confusing, neither fish nor fowl.

      And Adrian, if you visit our comment section often enough, you will find that some of us are still dwelling in that 'trash-heap' of history, clinging to the Wycliffe Bible, the Tyndale, the KJV, the Hebrew, the Luther, etc. etc. No, I don't think that acccusation is going to fit here!

      Response to Adrian: part 2, the interlinear

      Adrian then uses the new ESV Interlinear to analyse 2 Peter 1:21 and has this to say about the TNIV.

        But notice the terrible laxness with the actual WORDS of the text that the TNIV shows in the rest of this verse.
      Adrian has assumed the syntax represents meaning. He wants the syntax of the Greek in English and then he thinks he has found 'transparency'. I hardly know where to go with this.

      I have never heard of an interlinear translation of any other text apart from the Bible in my life. I would not know what to do with such a thing. What do I read? Well, this last week, spent without electricity, I read a book which was written in English on the poetry of Rilke among others. There were no interlinear translations. The text was represented first in German and then in English. There was no attempt at making a syntactically parallel translation of Rilke. The translations were intended to be meaningful, and they were not literal!

      Then I read a book that had been translated from French. Now, I am going to go out and by the French version to read it all over again. No, I do not want an interlinear translation.

      Later I am going to revisit 1 Timothy 2:5 for Adrian to explain the history of the phrase 'himself human.' It has no connection to any feminist agenda or political correctness. No such luck!

      Response to Adrian: part 1, the lexicons

      Adrian quotes 7 lexicons to show that anthropos means 'man'. I have never seen any of these. In fact, I still use the only two lexicons I own: the Liddell, Scott, Jones, and the BAGD, 1979. However, two translators of the ESV, Poythress and Grudem, list these two lexicons as 'the major Greek lexicons', not 'two of the major Greek lexicons', but 'the major Greek lexicons'.

      Here is a shortened form of the full Liddel, Scott, Jones from Perseus Project.

      A. man, both as a generic term and of individuals, Hom. etc., opp. gods
      2. Pl. uses it both with and without the Art. to denote man generically
      3. in pl., mankind,
      4. joined with another Subst, ; with names of nations, in Att. freq. in a contemptuous sense,
      5. alone, the man, the fellow, with slight irony, with a sense of pity
      6. in the voc. freq. in a contemptuous sense, as when addressed to slaves,
      7. slave
      8. any one, Hebraism
      9. Medic., name of a plaster
      II. as fem., woman

      Only in sense number 5 is 'the man' considered a translation and that is not in such a manly sense, but to denote the lowly status of an individual, that they are not aner, a full adult male or citizen.

      Here is BAGD.

      1. α generic, as a class,
      β in contrast to animals, plants
      γ in address, 'friend'
      δ pl. w. generic meaning, people
      b as a physical being subject to death
      c in a human way
      2. in special combinations and and meanings
      b where the context requires such meanings. as man, adult male, husband, slave, son, human figure

      So in BAGD, we find that the translation 'man' has the same status, under special meanings, as the translation 'slave' and 'husband.' Why not translate anthropos as 'the slaves', or 'the husbands'. We don't do this because these are not required by the context. The basic meaning is 'human', not divine, and 'subject to death'. If we avoid the use of 'human' in English, we simply avoid the full impact of the meaning of anthropos in Greek.

      No, I do not think that the ESV should have translated anthropoi in 2 Peter 1:21 as 'men and women', they should have translated it as 'humans', because that gives the full import of the Greek.

      Adrian then writes, "if a word is used for man in relation to his wife, mother, son or a woman then the word DOES have a male meaning." Once again, if I write 'a Brit and his wife', 'a Brit and his son', 'a Brit and his woman', 'a Brit and his mother', or a Brit and his dog, cat, mouse or fish, it still does not make the word 'Brit' have the semantic content of male, does it?

      posted by Suzanne McCarthy

      Link: Adrian's Blog: Cows, Dogs, and Political Correctness - Part Two

      Contextual accuracy in Bible translation

      I am currently reading The Bible at Cultural Crossroads: From Translation to Communication, by Harriet Hill, published a few weeks ago. I am to write a review of this book by the end of this month. This is a fascinating book with many real-life examples which demonstrate that translating the Bible accurately is often not enough, in itself, to allow people to understand the meanings intended in the biblical passages. Because the Bible is an ancient book about ancient cultures, those who use Bibles must, in one way or another, be provided information which allows them to bridge the historical and cultural gaps between their own time and culture and those of the biblical authors and their audiences. Faith communities have often provided the missing contextual information to fill in the gaps through Bible teaching. Harriet Hill discusses various methods which can be used to provide missing contextual information so people can understand translated Bibles better.

      But, she warns that those who provide contextual information for Bible users must ensure that it itself is accurate. She properly states that
      contextual adjustment materials should not offer speculative embellishments on the text. For example, in Matthew 21 in the Message, after Jesus runs the "loan sharks" out of the temple, Eugene Peterson adds, "Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in" (1993:52). This implies that the 'loan sharks' were keeping the blind and crippled out by taking up all the space. This misrepresents the situation. In fact, handicapped people were not allowed in the temple because they were considered unclearn, and the fact that Jesus allowed them in was as astounding as the way he chased the moneychangers out.
      Now, as with any of our critiques of Bible versions on this blog, we do not dismiss The Message as having no value as a translation, simply because of this and other mis-translations by Peterson. We must deal with each translation wording in any English Bible version on a case-by-case basis and not be dismissive (or accepting, for that matter) in a blanket fashion.

      I happen to like reading The Message. My wife and I use it for our morning Bible reading together. But we have to be careful that we do not take every translation wording in this translation, or any other Bible translation, as gospel truth, without checking to be sure that the translation is accurate.

      How about you? What parts of the Bible have become more understandable to you once you were exposed to footnotes, an explanation in a commentary, or listened to a Bible teacher? And how do you determine which kinds of "contextual adjustment materials" to trust as faithfully representing the context of the original biblical author?

      Wednesday, August 23, 2006

      Ben Witherington: The Origins of the English Bible

      Tuesday, August 22, 2006

      An Incarnational View of Translation

      Don't miss reading Henry Neufeld's blog post today, An Incarnational View of Translation.

      I have always been fascinated by parallels between how we can view the human and divine sides of Christ, as well as the human and divine sides of the authorship of the Bible. As my theology professors emphasized, our belief in the inspiration of the Bible does not mean that God dictated the Bible to human authors. It does not mean that the human authors were robots writing down God's words. Instead, in some way that is a mystery, just as the incarnation of Christ is a mystery, human authors wrote in ways that fully engaged their individual writing styles. And yet God was pleased to have it said of what they wrote that it was theopneustos (2 Tim. 3:16). Writing the books of the Bible was some kind of incarnational process. Translating the Bible into other languages is also some kind of an incarnational process.

      How fortunate we are to be the beneficiaries of God clothing himself and his revelation in human form!

      ESV on eBay

      There are quite a few editions of the ESV available for sale on eBay. Many ESV users have sung the praises of the ESV Reformation Study Bible, edited by Reformed pastor R.C. Sproul. I was intrigued to discover that there is also an ESV Scofield Study Bible, which takes some very different interpretational positions (Dispensational) from Dr. Sproul.

      Of course, you can find other English Bible versions on eBay, as well, including the KJV, Tanakh (1985), NLT, NASB, NIV, TNIV, HCSB, CEV, GNT / TEV, NAB, NWT, the Contemporary Torah, Fox's The Five Books of Moses. (I had to be careful searching for the NWT, since eBay uses the acroynm NWT to abbreviate "New With Tags"! I had to spell out the full name of the NWT version.) There are some parallel Bibles for sale on eBay.

      There are, of course, many other outlets selling Bibles besides eBay. Recently I have been increasingly turning to the AddAll book search to try to find the best prices for books and Bibles that I'm interested in.

      Monday, August 21, 2006

      ״הם היחיד״ מן התורה מנין؟ (Where do we find a Torah source for "Singular They"?)

      Today linguist Mark Liberman asks in a blog post: Is "singular they" verbally and plenarily inspired of God? Mark's question was inspired(?!) by yesterday's post by Steg, Where do we find a Torah source for "Singular They".

      It's an interesting question to ponder, especially given the attacks by those who believe in verbal, plenary inspiration upon the TNIV for using singular "they."

      I have found a number of instances in the original biblical languages where a grammatical plural has singular reference. That is a kind of singular "they" found in original biblical texts themselves. Unfortunately, my work load is so great right now that I cannot list those verses and blog about them But maybe this much will whet your appetite to come back and keep checking for when I might have time to work in a post on singular "they" in the biblical languages.

      Hmm, should we ask if there was a feminist agenda at work that caused those grammatical plurals with singular reference to occur in the original biblical texts? Nah, I don't think so! Not even when we know that the spirit mentioned in the Hebrew Bible who inspired the biblical authors to write was grammatically feminine.

      Euangelion: Christological Interpretation

      Euangelion: Christological Interpretation

      This recent post at Euangelion deals with the same topic that Michael Marlowe and I were discussing in comments to a recent post on BBB. The Euangelion post does not deal specifically with the issue of concern to me, namely, do we translate Old Testament passages to reflect messianic understandings of them reflected in their New Testament quotes?

      The hermeneutical issues involved in that topic are complex and have been debated for a long time by Bible scholars. On his rich website, Michael Marlowe includes important articles on this topic and has good bibliographies which represent writings from different viewpoints, including ones which I would be more comfortable with for translation of Old Testament passages which are quoted in the New Testament. If you wish to learn more about the different approaches to understanding these issues, read these articles on Michael's website:
      1. New Testament Use of the Old Testament, by Roger Nicole
      2. Can We Reproduce The Exegesis Of The New Testament? By Scott A. Swanson
      3. Resources on Typology on other sites
      4. Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics
      My own position is that Christ, my Messiah, fulfills the messianic longings in the Hebrew Bible. I agree with Michael Marlowe and others who see Christ's person and his significance as the central theme of both the Old and New Testaments. Where we differ is that I believe that there were local historical and cultural contexts within which Old Testament authors wrote, and I believe that scholarly integrity calls for us to translate the Old Testament passages according to their local contexts. In many cases, what they wrote directly referred to that local context, including the key prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 and Psalm 2 which I wrote about in a recent post. As a Christian I also believe the writings of the New Testament authors, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (as did the Old Testament authors), including when they quoted an Old Testament passage with a Christological meaning, rather than its original local meaning.

      Typological hermeneutics, which Michael likes, is, historically, an important approach to understanding all of the Bible. I see value in using a typological hermeneutic as well as the historical-grammatical hermeneutic in which I was trained.

      But for purposes of Bible translation, I think we need to translate any passage of the Bible to reflects its own unique historical and cultural context. Then, we can apply typological or other hermeneutics of our choice to those translated texts. To me, those interpretations come after the task of translating the text. As the speaker at our son-in-law's M.A. graduation from a Jewish school said this spring, "Text trumps interpretation."

      It seems to me that translating every biblical passage in terms of its original context provides a more accurate resource for everyone who accesses the Bible, including those who study the Bible as scholars, but may not have an allegiance to Christianity of the New Testament, or perhaps have no religious faith at all. When we translate passages so that they reflect the original context in which they were written, it is easier for biblical historians and other scholars to see biblical connections to their own areas of scholarly interest.

      In my opinion, those who call for use of literal and essentially literal translations should, to be consistent, call for such a translation approach to all parts of the Bible including those which Christians consider messianic, based on our belief in Jesus Christ as messiah and the arguments put forward in the New Testament to support that belief. Many of these arguments quote Hebrew Bible passages which had direct, local meanings when they were originally written. That does not at all take away from the fact that many of us--myself included--believe that the Holy Spirit wants us to see Christ our Messiah in those passages, and pictured in one way or another throughout all of the Bible.

      Saturday, August 19, 2006

      Big Bibles

      Are big Bibles better Bibles? Click here to get one slant on the matter. And, hey, don't forget the good advice of Proverbs 17:22.


      (Oh, if you like that slant, visit the Purgatorio blog once in awhile.)

      Friday, August 18, 2006

      Every Male Among The Men (Genesis 17:23 ESV)

      Someone off blog drew my attention to Genesis 17:23 in the ESV, especially the wording "every male among the men of Abraham's house". Does this imply that the ESV translators thought that there were also females among the men of Abraham's house, and were therefore using "man" in a gender generic sense? If so, this shows considerable inconsistency in ESV usage, especially as the head of the ESV Translation Committee has stated that "men" in 2 Timothy 2:2 was intended to be gender specific. Or maybe they were simply copying RSV, in which "men" is to be understood as generic.

      The Hebrew word אִישׁ 'ish is commonly understood to be a specifically male word. But Genesis 17:23 implies that at least in the plural form used here it can be gender generic. In fact there are clear cases where even in the singular it is gender generic. However, the Colorado Springs guideline
      Hebrew 'ish should ordinarily be translated "man" and "men"
      seems to imply that the word must be understood as gender specific. No wonder the ESV translators were confused at this point and so ended up with nonsense wording.

      PS (update): I note that NRSV has the same confused reading as ESV. And of course KJV as well as RSV does, but there was no problem in their time as "men" was understood generically. So ESV follows a venerable tradition. That does not excuse it for a reading which in 21st century English makes little sense. For more on this, see the comments.

      Cows, Dogs, Men and Political Correctness

      Adrian Warnock has started a series of posts on Cows, Dogs and Political Correctness. This is his response to several postings on this blog, such as my Cows, Dogs and Men and the follow-up Calling all humans! Adrian makes a good point in this series opener. But I am not sure who he is referring to, certainly not me as I make clear in my comment, when he writes that it is
      a matter of faith among some people over there that the Greek word άνθρωπος (anthropos) never ever means "man" in the sense of males, but instead exclusively and only "people" in a generic sense.
      Also I fail to see the relevance of "Political Correctness" in the series title. Perhaps that will come in the rest of the series. I hope that Adrian plans to debunk rather than perpetuate the myth that gender accurate translation is motivated by political correctness rather than a desire for translational accuracy.

      Thursday, August 17, 2006

      "Accurate" Bible translations

      Helmut Richter wrote a helpful essay, Comments on "accurate" Bible translations, a number of years ago. I re-read it every once in awhile and continue to appreciate it. You might find it helpful also.

      Wednesday, August 16, 2006

      Single Bible version discussion forums

      I like Bible translation transparency. I appreciate openness on the part of a Bible translation team to welcome feedback from the public.

      There are some forums devoted to discussion of specific Bible versions. You are welcome to join those discussions and comment on the Bible versions, of course, if you are willing to follow the forum rules.

      Here are two Bible version forums I am aware of:
      1. NET Bible
      2. NASB
      There are other forums for discussing more than one Bible version, but in this post I am interested in forums devoted to a specific version. I would very much like to see forums started for serious discussion of the TNIV, ESV, HCSB, and NLT.

      If you know of other forums dedicated to discussion of a single Bible version, please let us know in a comment.

      On Translations of the Bible

      Rob Bradshaw at recently uploaded an interesting lecture by H.F.D. Sparks, "On Translations of the Bible." Professor Sparks introduces us in a very personal way to translation issues over British and American revisions to the KJV (AV). The pdf download from Rob's blog is free.

      Tuesday, August 15, 2006

      ESV Reverse Interlinear

      Learn more about the ESV Reverse Interlinear from yesterday's post on the ESV Bible blog. You can download a pdf file of its preface and introduction. The post includes an extensive description of what a reverse interlinear is and its benefits.

      Sunday, August 13, 2006

      Which son is in Psalm 2?

      Much discussion has taken place over which son is referred to in Psalm 2. Neither time nor space permit us to review that literature. But I would like to comment on some translations of Psalm 2 which seem to me to be overly interpretive. By this, I mean that some Bible versions word this psalm so that it explicitly refers to a "Son," uppercase "S," presumably to indicate divinity, probably of a future Messianic Son. In the minds of some translators of Psalm 2 is likely a connection to Jesus, the Christian Messiah, who was called the Son of God in the New Testament.

      First, let us look at the text itself, always a good place to start. Who is this psalm about? If we read the Hebrew literally, using a hermeneutic of taking the plain meaning of the original text seriously, it should be clear that this psalm is written by a king (likely David himself) about his being anointed to be king by the Lord God himself. In verse 7 the new king says of himself:
      I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have begotten you. (NRSV)

      The king says,“I will announce the Lord’s decree. He said to me: ‘You are my son! This very day I have become your father! (NET)
      What does the Lord mean by calling the king of Psalm 2 his son? Many Christians immediately assume that this must refer to Jesus, especially since New Testament writers quote this psalm as referring to him. For instance, Paul preaches in Acts 13:32-33:
      32. And we proclaim to you the good news about the promise to our ancestors, 33. that this promise God has fulfilled to us, their children, by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second psalm, ‘You are my Son; today I have fathered you.’ (NET)
      Notice that the NET translators, theological conservatives who believe that Jesus is God's Son, the promised Messiah, uppercase "Son" in Acts 13:33, but not in the Hebrew Bible passage which this verse quotes, Psalm 2:7. I personally believe that the NET translators have translated accurately in each passage and appropriately indicated authorial intent with this differing typographical notation. There is lowercase "son" in Psalm 2 because that psalm originally referred to its author, an Israelite king anointed by God. Then there is uppercase "Son" in Acts 13:33 because Paul refers to Jesus as the promised Messiah and supports his argument in typical Jewish rabbinical prooftexting style by applying the Hebrew psalm to Jesus.

      So, what is meant when God is quoted in Psalm 2:7 as saying "‘You are my son! This very day I have become your father!"? A NET Bible footnote properly explains:
      The Davidic king was viewed as God’s “son” (see 2 Sam 7:14; Ps 89:26-27). The idiom reflects ancient Near Eastern adoption language associated with covenants of grant, by which a lord would reward a faithful subject by elevating him to special status, referred to as “sonship.” Like a son, the faithful subject received an “inheritance,” viewed as an unconditional, eternal gift. Such gifts usually took the form of land and/or an enduring dynasty. See M. Weinfeld, “The Covenant of Grant in the Old Testament and in the Ancient Near East,” JAOS 90 (1970): 184-203, for general discussion and some striking extra-biblical parallels.
      If we revise the original meaning of Psalm 2 so that it no longer refers to the Israelite anointed by God to be king hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, then we are importing a Christian interpretation (firmly supported by the New Testament authors) upon the Hebrew Bible. I grew up in a church and theological tradition where this method of translating the Hebrew Bible Messianically was considered appropriate. It was considered proper for us to be guided by our Christian theology as we translated the Hebrew Bible. I no longer consider this approach appropriate translationally. The Hebrew Bible should be translated on its own merits. Each passage should be translated according to the meaning of its original authors writing within their own historical and cultural contexts. As a Christian, I also believe the New Testament: I accept that Jesus, my Messiah, ultimately fulfills or brings an additional fulfillment to many passages in the Hebrew Bible.

      I now consider Bible versions which allow wordings of the Hebrew Bible to follow original authorial intent within original contexts to be theologically objective or neutral. That is, they do not Christianize the Hebrew Bible. Do I accept the Hebrew Bible as part of my Christian Bible? Absolutely. But I also want to be fair and accurate when I read it. I want to know who the authors of the Hebrew Bible were originally referring to. Then, later, I read the New Testament and find my heart spiritually warmed as so many Hebrew Bible passages are applied to Jesus, my Messiah. I do not consider it appropriate for my New Testament understanding of Jesus and the application of Hebrew Bible passages to him to influence how we translate the Hebrew Bible. If I am creating a study Bible, I would consider it appropriate to point out in footnotes New Testament applications of Hebrew Bible passages. Psalm 2 would be one of those passages. It is appropriate to cross-reference Psalm 2:7 to Acts 13:33 in study notes.

      This position differs from the translational decision taken by some Christian translators today who believe that it is appropriate or even necessary to include a New Testament interpretation of an Old Testament passage within the translation of that O.T. passage. I consider such a practice to be "interpretive translation," the same claim made by critics of various Bible translation wordings who believe that a translation has gone beyond what the original text "says" to what the translator believes it "means."

      Following are Bible versions which Christianize Psalm 2:
      I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. (NIV; "Son" is revised to "son" in the TNIV)

      “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. (NASB)

      I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you. (ESV)

      I will declare the Lord’s decree: He said to Me, “You are My Son; today I have become Your Father. (HCSB)

      I will announce the LORD's decree. He said to me: “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father. (GW)
      Better Bibles should use the least amount of "interpretive translation" necessary for conveying the original meanings of the biblical authors accurately to translation audiences. Some interpretation is always necessary. The very act of translating a single word from one language to another is a kind of interpretation. But we should avoid introducing our own theological understandings of the text when it is possible to translate accurately without them.

      Saturday, August 12, 2006

      The People's Bible

      I just came upon a website promoting The People's Bible. I have not heard of this translation before. Here is some information about its author, Rabbi Sidney Brichto:
      I come from an Othodox Jewish background and was raised with a love for the bible and my literary heritage. I decided that there were many dimensions to human spiritual aspirations and that it was not reasonable to assume that any person or group had a monopoly on the 'word of God'. I became a Liberal Rabbi because it enabled me to hold on to the foundations of my faith without compelling me to surrender my free will. This view has enabled me to appreciate the faiths of others whether they were fundamental or radical. Also I could see that different spiritual faiths reflected different aspects of human psychological and religious needs, I have an enormous respect for Christianity, Islam and all the religions whose existance over hundred and thousands of years prove that they have successfully tapped into the nature of the human soul. For this reason I have written and been involved in ecumenical discussions and debates which reveal the similarites differences in human perspectives which has led to such an enrichment of civilisation.


      I have read the Old Testament many times, but in the course of translating the bible to make it more accessable I have, myself, learned so much. This I think was due to reading it not with a need to rationalise it as my religous heritage, but as a library of books which reveal so much about the nature of men and women, and their aspirations for a purpose in life, whether or not one believed in the sanctity of its origins.

      As to the New Testament, this is the first time, I believe, that a Rabbi has ever translated it. I did so because I felt that as a Jew, I would have a different insight into the birth of Chrisitianity, than would Christians who were, so to speak, to the religion born. Already my translation of Luke & the Acts of the Apostles and the completion of my first draft of The Letters of Paul have given me a greater appreciation fo the revolutionary genius which led to the domination of Christianity in Western culture. Indeed I also now feel, and I direct this to my Jewish readers, that one cannot properly understand Judaism without understanding Christianity. They both present radically different, but equally valid methods for achieving a world living in harmony and peace.
      Several books of the Bible translated by Rabbi Brichto can be purchased at or

      Shabbat Shalom.

      Friday, August 11, 2006

      British TNIV: "empathize" becomes "feel sympathy"

      When preparing my latest posting on my own blog, I had a surprise in TNIV. I copied Hebrews 4:15 from the TNIV website:
      For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
      But when proofreading the post I spotted the American spelling "empathize" (with "z" not "s") and so checked with my British edition of TNIV. There I found:
      For we do not have a high priest who is unable to feel sympathy for our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
      The team who prepared the British edition did not simply change to British spelling, they changed the actual wording here. This was a surprise to me, because the only change of wording usually made in British editions of recent Bible translations is to replace the American word "rooster" with the four letter word which was good enough for the KJV translators and is still in regular and polite use here in Britain.

      I think it is good that a change was made here in TNIV, for although here in England we understand "empathise", it is not a word we empathise with! Indeed it is one which we would tend to dislike as an Americanism. But "feel sympathy for" is not an improvement. I guess that NIV's "sympathize" (American; British is "sympathise"; this is also the RSV reading, and in fact a transliteration of the Greek word used here, sumpatheō) was changed to "empathize" because the primary current sense of "sympathize", according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is an inappropriate one: "To feel or express compassion, as for another's suffering; commiserate." The real meaning of the passage should surely be more like the second and probably original sense of "sympathize": "To share or understand the feelings or ideas of another". This meaning is brought out more clearly with "empathize". But the British TNIV reading "feel sympathy for" seems to me a reversion to the first sense of "sympathize": "To feel... compassion, as for another's suffering".

      I must say I am disappointed to find in this key passage the British edition of TNIV has introduced an unfortunate and theologically significant change of meaning. For the important point in this passage is that Jesus understands what we are going through when we are weak and tempted, because he has himself been tempted while living in a weak human body. Yes, he feels compassion for us as well, but the meaning of this verse is far more than that.

      I am also puzzled at why, if the British TNIV editors were free to make changes of this kind, they did not change the blatant Americanism "garbage" in Philippians 3:8 back to NIV's "rubbish", the normal British word.

      ESV revisions: will the translational and theological problems be fixed?

      A couple of days ago I copied into a comment on this blog some information about revisions to ESV, to be published soon in a "reverse interlinear", whatever that might be. (Actually you can find out by looking at a sample page which has been published.) This information was taken from a posting on the Bible Translation discussion list. Rick Mansfield also picked up this posting on his blog. Rick has now received and posted an official reply from the publishers, Crossway. The publishers state that we
      won’t see any changes to the ESV in print--apart from the reverse interlinear--before 2007.
      It seems the changes will not be extensive:
      The vast majority of these involve only minor changes in grammar, punctuation, and footnotes. We are still in process regarding the finalization and implementation of these changes, which we will probably begin to implement sometime next year (2007).
      So it seems as if the changes in the reverse interlinear are not in fact all of the changes which will be published in 2007. But it also seems unlikely that the changes will be extensive enough to meet my theological and translational objections to ESV.

      My translational problems with ESV are largely matters of style, which have been discussed several times on this list. I also have problems with ESV's gender-related language, but I don't expect that to be corrected as the translation team seems to be ideologically committed to it.

      As for my theological objections to ESV, for those of you who haven't been following the long and sometimes confused comment threads on recent postings, my most recent such objection concerns the ESV rendering of 1 Timothy 2:5:
      For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
      The problem is with "one mediator between God and men", which, according to current majority English usage, implies that there may be another mediator between God and women. Could this perhaps be the woman Mary, sometimes called "mediatrix" by Roman Catholics? I am sure the ESV translators didn't intend to promote that theology! Indeed, a 1997 article by Andreas Köstenberger (which Köstenberger has now repudiated, in a comment today on this blog pointing readers instead to another article of his) suggests that the ESV translators intended "men" to be understood gender generically in this verse. But their use here of "men" and "man", where the Greek twice has the gender generic anthrōpos, could well lead to this misunderstanding.

      Will this theologically significant error be corrected in the new revised ESV? I rather doubt it, but we will see.

      PS. I note the following from the updated Köstenberger article:
      In his treatment of specific Biblical terms involving gender, [D. A.] Carson maintains that he term anthrōpos never means "man" (that is, a male human being), though it may refer to such a person, while the expression anēr, while having "male human being" as its default meaning, also occurs in a generic sense. Those who believe that "male human being" is part of the semantic range of anthrōpos are charged with confusing meaning and reference (though Carson seems to leave the door open just a bit when he refers to "human being" as "the primary meaning of anthrōpos," pp. 150–151 [italics mine [Köstenberger's]], calling this the "normal" or "default meaning," pp. 153, 160).
      So, Carson, in The Inclusive Language Debate: A Plea for Realism (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), made much the same point as I have made in comments here. I am glad of this more-or-less confirmation that I am correct!

      Better Bible maps

      Our grandchildren and I enjoy Google Earth. We like to zero in on different places we are interested in. Sometimes two of my grandsons will ask where Grandma is on one of her mission trips. I tell them to buckle up for the plane ride there, and we fly via Google Earth. Great fun!

      Today the ESV Bible blog has an interesting post on locating Bible places on Google Earth maps:
      A Google Earth community has developed a file for Google Earth (and Google Maps) that shows the locations of about 200 places mentioned in the Bible. The community is going for accuracy: they try to pinpoint the locations of the ruins of ancient cities instead of using the locations of modern cities with ancient names.

      We want to assist these efforts where we can. To that end, here is a comprehensive list of place names in the ESV aligned (mostly) to the names the community is using. This file also lists verse references for every occurrence of the place in the ESV text. This file is licensed under a Creative Commons-Attribution-ShareAlike license. The Bible contains 1181 place names (though some places have more than one name and some names refer to more than one place); the Google Earth community has already identified about 200 of them. They’re well on their way.

      Head over there if you’d like to help them out, or just download the .kmz file if you have Google Earth on your computer.
      Have fun!

      Thursday, August 10, 2006

      References to Christ as human

      Henry Neufeld, on his blog, Threads from Henry's web, has been writing about the incarnation. I had read his first post and meant to mention it tonight. He has posted again on this topic here. Henry puts the incarnation at the centre, "Jesus come in the flesh."

      So I want to show three rather straightforward verses about Jesus, come in the flesh, and how they look in the TNIV, NRSV and the ESV. At some later date, I would like to write about Hebrews 2, which is somewhat more complex.

      All the words coloured red represent the word anthropos in the Greek. I have removed notes in the original due to technical reasons. Please view these verses at BibleGateway or Studylight for the full context.

      1 Corinthians 15:21
        For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being NRSV

        For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a human being. TNIV
        For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. ESV

      Philippians 2:7-8

        but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death - even death on a cross. NRSV

        rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! . TNIV
        but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. ESV

      1 Timothy 2:5

        This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human NRSV

        This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and human beings, Christ Jesus, himself human, TNIV
        This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus ESV
      I do want to admit that it is difficult to get these passages just right. Because 'humans' is not stylistically viable in all contexts in English, anthropos is sometimes translated as 'people' and 'everyone'. I think 'people' is better, but there it is. However, I feel that altogether the solutions found by the NRSV and the TNIV are accurate and helpful.

      It is of utmost importance to understand that in Phil. 2:7, the Greek does not say that Jesus was born in the likeness of a male. He was, but that is not the significance of the verse. This will influence how one interprets the concept of being in the image of God, imago dei. Another topic for later.

      Notes: Dr. Grudem says about these verses, (page 4)
        the masculinity of Christ was downplayed
      But, if human is the basic semantic component of anthropos and that is the intended meaning, then translating it as 'man' only works if we are absolutely certain that 'man' is understood in the generic sense, in which case there isn't any semantic masculinity to be downplayed.

      Dr. Kostenberger writes in a similar vein, (page 12)

        It has already been noted in the survey of the translation of anthropos above that their commitment to gender-inclusive language frequently led the NIVI translators to neuter the word “man” in Scripture.
      Is there some sense that to translate anthropos as human, rather than man, neuters the word? What about anthropology, and philanthropy, and anthropomorphic? I hope Dr. Kostenberger will feel free to respond to this question.

      Wednesday, August 09, 2006

      The Contemporary Torah

      The Jewish Publication Society has just published a gender-sensitive adaptation of the JPS translation, The Contemporary Torah, ISBN: 0827607962.

      HT: J.D.

      UPDATE: Here is a description of this adaptation from
      Offers readers new perspectives on the role gender plays in Bible translation

      This adaptation of the JPS translation of the Torah (1962) will appeal to readers who are interested in a historically based picture of social gender roles in the Bible as well as those who have become accustomed to gender-sensitive English in other aspects of their lives.

      Many contemporary Bible scholars contend that the Bible's original audience understood that the references to God as male simply reflected gendered social roles at the time. However, evidence for this implicit assumption is ambiguous. Accordingly, in preparing this new edition, the editors sought language that was more sensitive to gender nuances, to reflect more accurately the perceptions of the original Bible readers.

      In places where the ancient audience probably would not have construed gender as pertinent to the text's plain sense, the editors changed words into gender-neutral terms; where gender was probably understood to be at stake, they left the text as originally translated, or even introduced gendered language where none existed before. They made these changes regardless of whether words referred to God, angels, or human beings.

      For example, the phrase originally translated in the 1962 JPS Torah as "every man as he pleases" has been rendered here "each of us as we please" (Deut. 12:8). Similarly, "man and beast" now reads "human and beast" (Exod. 8:14), since the Hebrew word adam is meant to refer to all human beings, not only to males. Conversely, the phrase "the persons enrolled" has been changed to "the men enrolled" (Num. 26:7), to reflect the fact that only men were counted in census-taking at this time.

      In most cases, references to God are rendered in gender neutral language. A special case in point: the unpro-nounceable four-letter name for the Divine, the Tetragammaton, is written in unvocalized Hebrew, conveying to the reader that the Name is something totally "other"-- beyond our speech and understanding. Readers can choose to substitute for this unpronounceable Name any of the numerous divine names offered by Jewish tradition, as generations have before our time. In some instances, however, male imagery depicting God is preserved because it reflects ancient society's view of gender roles.

      David Stein's preface provides an explanation of the methodology used, and a table delineates typical ways that God language is handled, with sample verses. Occasional notes applied to the Bible text explain how gender is treated; longer supplementary notes at the end of the volume comment on special topics related to this edition.

      In preparing this work, the editors undertook a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the Torah's gender ascriptions. The result is a carefully rendered alternative to the traditional JPS translation.

      Cows, Dogs and Men

      Adrian Warnock, in a comment on Calling all humans!, wrote:
      When we say Cow, we think of the female cow mor than we do of cows and bulls but it can certainly mean both cows and bulls in some context.
      A similar example would be the word "Dog" which can and often does mean "Dogs and Bitches" but in certain context means male dogs only.
      Adrian, these are excellent instructive examples to show how the Greek words for "man" or "person", anthrōpos and anēr, work.

      As I was brought up in an agricultural community, I would never dream of calling a male bovine a cow. For me this is a strongly gender marker word. But I know that others, city dwellers as well as people like Wayne, use the word "cow" in a different way. Yet we communicate clearly together, and only notice this dialect difference when we hear something that grates, e.g. when I hear someone calling a bull a cow.

      This is an indication to us of how the English language is not uniform, in gender related language as just one example. English speakers also differ in exactly how they use words like "man" and "brother" with possible reference to mixed gender groups, and how they use generic "he". This is a fact of life, and we should not seek to impose uniformity or judge those whose usage is different from ours.

      This is also an indication of how Koine Greek is also not likely to be uniform. Elementary grammars may tell us that anthrōpos is gender generic and anēr is male specific. An examination of actual usage, in the New Testament and elsewhere, shows a more complex picture, in which anthrōpos is sometimes used with some kind of male meaning component, and anēr is sometimes used generically. This is also a fact of life. But it would be quite wrong to conclude from occasional unusual usage that anthrōpos always has a male meaning component, or of course that anēr is always gender generic. Each case has to be judged, and translated, on its merits. This is the danger of "guidelines" such as those drawn up at Colorado Springs, especially when they are treated not just as guidelines but as strict rules to be adhered to.

      To move on to "dog", it seems to me that this word works for canines in English in much the same way as anthrōpos works for humans in Greek. The commonest use of the word is gender generic. But when contrasted or collocated with a specifically female word, or in other contexts where gender is in focus, it can have a male meaning component.

      This does not imply that the word always has some kind of male connotation or nuance. No one who reads a sign "Dogs must be kept on a lead/leash" would dream of claiming that this sign is gender specific and therefore it is OK to let a female animal roam freely. No one would even dream of suggesting that this sign applies directly only to male canines, and to female ones only by some kind of "male representation". No, they would recognise that in this context the word "dog" is being used in a completely gender generic sense.

      Similarly, surely, with anthrōpos: this word must be understood as completely gender generic except in those rather rare cases where it is specifically signalled as gender specific.

      Anēr, on the other hand, works more like "cow", at least for those like me from a rural background: its proper use is gender specific, but it is sometimes used (some might say misused) in a gender generic sense. Perhaps James the brother of Jesus was the equivalent of a city dweller: he seems to have used anēr quite a lot in an apparently generic sense, in 1:8,12,20, 3:2.

      Tuesday, August 08, 2006

      The theology of the incarnation

      The very first thing that bothered me about the language debate was not about men and women. It was not about us. It was about what the Bible says about Christ. I find I am not alone. This is the testimony of a Greek Orthodox theologian.
        Remember the Greek language is gender inclusive, just as the Hebrew is, so why is the Jerusalem Bible "traditionally gender non-inclusive"? The whole Theology of the incarnation could be jeapourdised by prefering "Man" to the more correct "human" in translating Greek Anthropos. En-Anthropisis is to become-human not to become the male gender (Man). Kosmas Damianides,

      I thought that was an important quote.

      You should probably now just skip the rest of this post because it is a rerun, another attempt on my part to understand why people ask about the meaning of anthropos. Why do people want so badly for it to have a male meaning component?

      Skip the rest, back to work, everybody, I am just trying to sort this one out, once and for all.

      The following is a statement from the ESV website.

        Therefore, to the extent that plain English permits and the meaning in each case allows, we have sought to use the same English word for important recurring words in the original; and, as far as grammar and syntax allow, we have rendered Old Testament passages cited in the New in ways that show their correspondence. Thus in each of these areas, as well as throughout the Bible as a whole, we have sought to capture the echoes and overtones of meaning that are so abundantly present in the original texts.
        As an essentially literal translation, then, the ESV seeks to carry over every possible nuance of meaning in the original words of Scripture into our own language.

      However, there is no way that the ESV translators can change all occurances of anthropos to 'man'. And there is no way that the they can claim that 'men' expressses the nuances of anthropos better than 'human'. So they cannot "use the same English word for important recurring words in the original." Maybe anthropos is not important.

      On the page on gender issues, the ESV website explains its translation practice with respect to the word 'man'. (Apparently it is important after all.)

        For example, “anyone” replaces “any man” where there is no word corresponding to “man” in the original languages, and “people” rather than “men” is regularly used where the original languages refer to both men and women. But the words “man” and “men” are retained where a male meaning component is part of the original Greek or Hebrew.

      And later down the page this,

        Similarly, where God and man are compared or contrasted in the original, the ESV retains the generic use of “man” as the clearest way to express the contrast within the framework of essentially literal translation.

        In each case the objective has been transparency to the original text, allowing the reader to understand the original on its own terms rather than on the terms of our present-day culture.

      I think I have quoted this before, but I have to review it because it still confuses me. Do I have to assess each time the word 'man' is used, whether it is in the context of a comparison with God and then 'man' means 'human', anthropos. However, everywhere else, 'man' reflects a male meaning component in the Greek of Hebrew, irrespective of whether the Greek word is aner or anthropos. And this male meaning component is decided on what basis?

      So the ESV does not use the words 'man' and 'human' consistently, although these would, in fact, reflect the Greek, aner and anthropos (not exactly, but more or less), possibly because it might appear to be on the "terms of our present-day culture". No, we must use the words 'man' and 'man', because that pattern "allows the reader to understand the original on its own terms".

      Calling all humans!

      One of our commenters has brought up the NRSV translation of 2 Peter 1:21 saying,

        2 Pet 1:21 in the NRSV seems to be inaccurate, and gives the appearance that a feminist agenda is at work
      What does the Greek New Testament say?

        οὐ γὰρ θελήματι ἀνθρώπου ἠνέχθη προφητεία ποτέ ἀλλὰ ὑπὸ πνεύματος ἁγίου φερόμενοι ἐλάλησαν ἀπὸ θεοῦ ἄνθρωποι
      And how is this translated? And which one looks anything like the Greek? Only one in this case!

        because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God NRSV

        For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. ESV

        For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. TNIV
      Since anthropos in the plural can mean simply 'people', it is interesting to note that this was not chosen as an translation. The repetition of the word anthropos, combined with its position in the sentence, near the front and then at the end, certainly suggests to me that only the TNIV communicates the intent of the Greek.

      No, the author was not trying to stress that both men and women prophesy, although the scriptures make clear that they both do; the author was saying that humans prophecy. Most of the Bible is not about gender, it is not about being male or female, it is about being human. We are human, equally, male and female, and focusing on gender is just silly. Je m'accuse.

      However, I wish to thank our commenter for bringing to my attention another passage in which the ESV translators demonstrate their willingness to take the Greek word for 'humans' and translate it into English as 'men'. And I already know that when they use the word 'men' they actually do mean 'men' the male of the species. I cannot think of any other major translation that has gotten away with this kind of inaccuracy.

      First, the ESV says women don't teach, (2 Tim. 2:2) and now it wants to reinforce that they don't prophecy either? How much of the scriptures are they willing to dispose of?

      Dear commenter,

      Thanks for asking about this, but no, 2 Peter 1:21 is not an example of a feminist agenda in the NRSV, it is an example of a complementarian agenda in the ESV. I think some have called this a masculinist agenda. I wonder if the translators really thought no one would notice.

      Monday, August 07, 2006

      English Bible versions

      There is a wonderful resource now available on the Internet for free access. It is WorldCat, the largest online library catalog which used to require a fee to access. Click here to see all the books in the catalog found under the key terms "English Bible versions."

      HT: Stephen C. Carlson at Hypotyposeis

      Sunday, August 06, 2006

      Metzger on NRSV language and style

      While some commenters asked for a comparison between the RSV and the ESV, I came across an article by Bruce Metzger on differences between the RSV and the NRSV. Here is Bruce Metzger on the NRSV.

        Since the Bible is a source of both information and inspiration, translations must be both accurate and esthetically felicitious. They should be suitable for rapid reading and for detailed study, as well as suitable for reading aloud to large and small groups. Ideally, they should be intelligible and even inviting to readers of all ages, of all degrees of education, and of almost all levels of intelligence - all without sacrificing accuracy, in either matter or manner. Besides the several problems already considered as to text, meanings of words, punctuation, and the like, the following are illustrations of some of the more delicate stylistic problems that confront bible translators.
      I have summarized Metzger's points and illustrations below. Metztger provided references from the RSV and the NRSV only, but I have added the NIV and the ESV to show the chronology of the change. While these changes were introduced originally in the NIV and then adopted by the NRSV, they were not adopted by the ESV. Has the ESV missed out on an important part of the English translation tradition as it moves towards a more accurate English text that sounds better read aloud?

      In the following list, I give the RSV as the original text, then the NIV, and the NRSV, with the changes adopted, and finally the ESV, in which the RSV phrasing is retained unchanged.

      1. Word order can obscure the meaning of the sentence.

      Exodus 11:8
        And he went out from Pharaoh in hot anger RSV
        Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh. NIV
        And in hot anger he left Pharaoh. NRSV
        And he went out from Pharaoh in hot anger. ESV
      Zech 3:3

        Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments RSV
        Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. NIV
        Now Joshua was dressed with filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. NRSV
        Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. ESV
      2. English stye and vocabulary should vary according to context. Here 'dwell' is considered inappropriate by Metzger.

      Gen. 4:20

        Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have cattle. RSV
        Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. NIV
        Adah bore Jabal; he was the ancestor of those who live in tents and have livestock. NRSV
        Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. ESV
      3. Vocabulary could be ambiguous and misunderstood.

      1 Kings 19:21

        Then he arose and went after Eli'jah, and ministered to him RSV
        Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant. NIV
        Then he set out and followed Elijah, and became his servant. NRSV
        Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him. ESV
      4. Oral ambiguity could arise when a text is read aloud.

      Gen. 35:7

        because there God had revealed himself to him RSV
        because it was there that God revealed himself to him NIV
        because it was there that God had revealed himself to him NRSV
        because there God had revealed himself to him ESV
      Luke 22:35

        did you lack anything?" They said, "Nothing." RSV
        did you lack anything?" "Nothing," they answered. NIV
        did you lack anything?" They said, "No, not a thing." NRSV
        did you lack anything?" They said, "Nothing." ESV
      In view of Dr. Packer's statement that the ESV is 'perhaps the biggest milestone in Bible translation in the past fifty years or more', I decided to look at this chronology - RSV 1952, NIV 1978, NRSV 1990, ESV 2001. I have to admit that not all of these examples above concern me, but the general pattern does. I get the vague feeling that the ESV has the dubious achievement of attempting to set back translation history by 50 years.

      What concerns me most of all is that people from other countries are attracted to the ESV and may be unaware of how it differs from the King James Version. Crossway reports,

        In Nigeria, the ESV has already been endorsed by the largest Christian church, the Redeemed Christian Church of God. In Singapore, the ESV has been selected as the translation for the national cathedral of the Anglican Church. The Bible Societies in these countries, each of which has a large English speaking constituency, are turning to the ESV as an essentially literal translation to meet the needs of the church in their countries.

        “In so many countries in Africa and Asia, people are finding that the ESV really resonates with them,” explained Derek Hill, Head of Production Services at the British and Foreign Bible Society, to an audience of more than 40 Bible Society representatives.
      And this concerns me because of this brief review of women's rights in Nigeria.

        Factors militating against women politically in Nigeria can be summed up as follows: Prevailing unequal division of labour in household and child care duties, negative attitudes towards women's participation in public life, the lack of confidence on the part of the electorate .... Another perceived constraint relates to the short historical traditions of women political participation combined with inaccessibility to Knowledge and education. Traditionally, women in Nigeria face ‘deep prejudices, profound discrimination, barriers to their advancement in the areas of education, politics, economics, nutrition, healthcare, equality and even survival itself.
      I find it reprehensible that North America is exporting a Bible that promotes the prominence of the male to such a country! They would be better off with the King James Version.

      Note: Metzger, Bruce. Persistent Problems Confronting Bible Translators. Bibliotheca Sacra 150 (July-September 1993): 273-284

      This Lamp Review #7

      Rick at This Lamp has reviewed The New Jerusalem Bible as #7 in his series of Bible reviews. Both preceding and following this review he has posted on other Bible translation issues, all good reading. Rick comments on wikipedia, a pet peeve of mine, and features a dictionary and thesaurus entry in many of his posts. He is bent on educating the blogosphere in a serious way!

      Saturday, August 05, 2006

      ESV-RSV comparison

      In a comment on my preceding post, Singing Owl wished to be able to compare some passages from the RSV and ESV. Well, here are some, in a birds-eye (ahem!) view, just for you, Singing Owl!

      Overall, the ESV team made very little literary revision of the RSV. Most passages read identically.The ESV team did, however, make significant theological revisions, especially in passages which many consider to refer to the deity of Christ. Michael Marlowe writes about the ESV:
      This is an evangelical revision of the Revised Standard Version that corrects the non-Christian interpretations of the RSV in the Old Testament and improves the accuracy throughout with more literal renderings. It also updates the language somewhat.
      In Isaiah 7:14 the RSV translated Hebrew almah as "young woman". Those words, rather than "virgin," largely doomed that version to be condemned by theologically conservative Christians until quite a few years after its publication when some younger conservatives who had not been part of the original conservative opposition of the RSV used it extensively. Dr. Wayne Grudem and Dr. Vern Poythress are two such younger theological conservatives. In his account of the origin of the ESV, Dr. Grudem states:
      1967: I was beginning my sophomore year at Harvard. Vern Poythress, then a Ph.D. student at Harvard, encouraged me to switch from the King James Version to the RSV as my personal Bible, and I soon begin memorizing Scripture in the RSV. (In 1998 both Vern and I became members of the Translation Oversight Committee for the ESV.)

      1967-1997: During these 30 years many of the scholars who would be involved in the ESV continued to use the RSV frequently, with several of them (such as myself) using it as their main study and teaching Bible. (I used the old Harper Study Bible-RSV for most of those 30 years, and even had my copy rebound.) But everyone who used the RSV realized it had some deficiencies (such as the use of “thee” and “thou” to address God) and needed some correction.
      The ESV translated almah in Isaiah 7:14 as "virgin":
      Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (RSV)

      Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (ESV)
      The ESV team revised Psalm 45:6 so that its wording would be clearly messianic:

      Your divine throne endures for ever and ever. Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity; (RSV)

      Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; (ESV)
      In the ESV it is the addressee himself who is divine, not his throne.

      Another psalm which is now clearly messianic in the ESV is Psalm 2:
      Serve the Lord with fear, with trembling kiss his feet, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way; for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (RSV)

      Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way; for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (ESV)
      Michael Marlowe comments on the ESV revision of these verses:
      The meaning of this verse in the ESV (which gives a literal rendering of the Hebrew text) ought to be clear to any Christian. The RSV translators gave instead a conjectural emendation of the text, with the footnote, "Cn [correction]: The Hebrew of 11b and 12a is uncertain."
      The ESV team updated "thee" and "thou" to "you" throughout the ESV, as in Psalm 23:

      1. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want;
      2. he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters;
      3. he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
      4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
      5. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows.
      6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (RSV)

      1. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
      2. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
      3. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
      4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
      5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
      6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (ESV)
      JETS (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society) ESV reviewers Michael A. Lyons and William A. Tooman noted problems with negative word orders retained in the ESV:

      The RSV'S penchant for placing the negative after the verb ("Prophesy not to us," Isa 30:10; "Fear not," Gen 35:17) was changed in some places ("Do not prophesy to us"; "Do not fear"), but not in others ("Be not wise in your own eyes," Prov 3:7; "deny them not to me," Prov 30:7).
      John 3:16 is identical in both versions except for an added comma in the ESV:

      For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (RSV)

      For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (ESV)

      Genesis begins with nearly identical wordings in both versions:

      Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
      Gen 1:2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.
      Gen 1:3 And God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.
      Gen 1:4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
      Gen 1:5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
      Gen 1:6 And God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters."
      Gen 1:7 And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so.
      Gen 1:8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
      Gen 1:9 And God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so.
      Gen 1:10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. (RSV)

      Gen 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
      Gen 1:2 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.
      Gen 1:3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.
      Gen 1:4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.
      Gen 1:5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
      Gen 1:6 And God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters."
      Gen 1:7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so.
      Gen 1:8 And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
      Gen 1:9 And God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so.
      Gen 1:10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. (ESV)

      Eph. 1, one of the most difficult passages to translate to natural English, reads nearly the same in the RSV and ESV:

      Eph 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are also faithful in Christ Jesus:
      Eph 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
      Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
      Eph 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
      Eph 1:5 He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
      Eph 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
      Eph 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace
      Eph 1:8 which he lavished upon us.
      Eph 1:9 For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ
      Eph 1:10 as a plan for the fulness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
      Eph 1:11 In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will,
      Eph 1:12 we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory.
      Eph 1:13 In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
      Eph 1:14 which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
      Eph 1:15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints,
      Eph 1:16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,
      Eph 1:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,
      Eph 1:18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
      Eph 1:19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might
      Eph 1:20 which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places,
      Eph 1:21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come;
      Eph 1:22 and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church,
      Eph 1:23 which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all. (RSV)

      Eph 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
      Eph 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
      Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
      Eph 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
      Eph 1:5 he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
      Eph 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
      Eph 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
      Eph 1:8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight
      Eph 1:9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ
      Eph 1:10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
      Eph 1:11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
      Eph 1:12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
      Eph 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
      Eph 1:14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
      Eph 1:15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints,
      Eph 1:16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,
      Eph 1:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,
      Eph 1:18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
      Eph 1:19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might
      Eph 1:20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,
      Eph 1:21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
      Eph 1:22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,
      Eph 1:23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (ESV)
      Reviews of the ESV, with some other comparisons to the RSV, can be accessed from the ESV links webpage (links which I have compiled, I should note, in the interests of full disclosure!).