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Friday, August 11, 2006

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!

10 Comments:

At Fri Aug 11, 02:21:00 PM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

Peter, my hunch is that since the ESV Reverse Interlinear is just the NT, more than likely the changes are fixed and perhaps they're still working on the OT. I think David Dewey was right that it's expensive to set the type for an interlinear, so you don't want to have to suddenly change it again too soon.

At the very least, some of the more controversial passages in the original edition of the ESV will be open to comparison with the revision very soon.

 
At Fri Aug 11, 02:56:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Fri Aug 11, 03:52:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

I suppose there is a market for reverse interlinears, although it seems odd to me

It does to me, also. It seems to me to distort a neophyte's perception of the relationship between the original biblical languages and a translation of them. To my mind, it gives the English translation some kind of existential priority over the original language. And that seems wrong to me.

If someone is going to use an interlinear I think it is better to use a traditional one where the biblical language appears with correct word order.

It is possible to have more than two lines of text for an interliner, e.g.

1. biblical language text
2. word-by-word gloss
3. translation gloss

Other gloss lines can include morphological identification, etc.

 
At Fri Aug 11, 04:38:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Fri Aug 11, 04:45:00 PM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

Well, I did mention that Cambridge offered a nice selection of wide-margin KJV's. And I plan on discussing the Cambridge Paragraph Bible (I don't have one yet, but am definitely coveting it) when I get to the honorable mentions in my top ten favorite Bible version.

 
At Fri Aug 11, 04:47:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Ah, if only Fermat had had a notebook and a computer! What would mathematics have been like if his proof had been known all those centuries ago - or even if we had known that his supposed proof was faulty!

As a student at Clare College, Cambridge in the 1970's, I slightly knew Andrew Wiles who eventually proved Fermat's last theorem. He was a graduate student at my college at the time, as also were Wayne Grudem and Vern Poythress (although I wouldn't claim to have known them). I also came across Andrew's father the late Professor Maurice Wiles, a liberal theologian who was unkindly called by one of my evangelical friends "the Wiles of the devil".

 
At Sat Aug 12, 03:01:00 AM, Blogger lingamish said...

I have discovered a truly remarkable proof for this post which this comment box is too small to contain.

 
At Sat Aug 12, 09:31:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Sat Aug 12, 12:21:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Well, I did say "unkindly" about Wiles senior's nickname. Although he was "liberal", as The Times agrees, and so I did not agree with all his theology, I did in fact respect what he said, when he preached in our college chapel - I think he was a personal friend of our Dean, Arthur Peacocke.

 
At Sat Aug 12, 07:52:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 

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