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