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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

53 Comments:

At Sun Aug 06, 06:42:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

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At Sun Aug 06, 07:55:00 PM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

Suzanne, I don't think I've ever seen this kind of translational progression demonstrated like you've just done. In my opinion, you've squarely begun the process of demonstrating that the ESV is a step backwards in translation method.

There's another book by Metzger entitled, The Making of New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. I'll pull it off my shelf later this week as it might add some further weight to your case.

 
At Sun Aug 06, 09:58:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

It is true that ESV has dropped the archaic 2nd person singular -- but keeps archaism elsewhere -- making the version internally anachronistic.

I regret the loss of 'thou' since I have been at a couple of those brudershafttrinken ceremonies, where you first start using 'du' with someone in German.

However, very few people understand 'thou' very well, how it declines, that the object form is 'thee', that the verb has to agree properly, etc. But now that 'thou' is gone, spiritual truth must be so derivative in English, so diluted, so many nuances lost, etc. etc. Really I sometimes think an English Bible is a lost cause altogether.

 
At Sun Aug 06, 10:08:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Anon,

You write,

Just one minor correction: the full RSV (with Metzger's contribution, the Apocrypha) appeared in 1957.

First, corrections are ALWAYS welcome. Next, these are Metzger's words. I quote,

After 81 separate meetings, totaling 450 days of work, the complete Bible was published September 30, 1952, the Feast day, appropriately enough, of St. Jerome. The new version was launched with an unprecedented publicity campaign. On the evening of the day of publication, in the United States, in Canada, and in many other plasces, 3,418 community observances were held with over one and a half million persons attending.

Now I will go and find Metzger's quote about the apocrypha, equally significant.

 
At Sun Aug 06, 10:27:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

To continue, here is Metzger on the NRSV as a whole. First, I would like to mention for those who haven't seen them, your comments, Anon, on this previous post.

Metzger writes,

The NRSV is the most ecumenical of all English versions of he Bible. It contains not only the 66 books of the Protestant canon, but also the books of the Apocrypha, books that were included in the King James Bible. To these apocryphal books, designated deuterocanonical by Roman Catholics, are added three other texts accepted by Eastern Orthodox churches, namely, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, and Psalm 151. The NRSV Bible is thus the only English Bible that contains all the books accepted as authoritative by Christians of all major denominations in the world.

 
At Sun Aug 06, 10:31:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

First, corrections are ALWAYS welcome.

And, Suzanne, you can find more details about the RSV at your favourite online encyclopedia. :-)

With the discussions about the RSV lately, today I added a link to the RSV in the Versions section of this blog. And that encyclopedia link is there, not, of course, because of anything you've said about that so-called encyclopedia. :-)

 
At Sun Aug 06, 10:35:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

FWIW, when I am doing Bible translation work, I use a programme jointly designed by UBS and SIL. I always have two versions open besides the windows for the vernacular translation. Those versions are CEV and NRSV (I also sync to a larger program with many other Bible versions open). I have come to appreciate the scholarly integrity of the NRSV, which has been recognized by many others, as well. I like to check it when I am concerned about exegetical accuracy.

 
At Sun Aug 06, 11:52:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

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At Mon Aug 07, 12:10:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

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At Mon Aug 07, 12:34:00 AM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

Suzannes comments on the KJV made me think of something: the source text used by the KJV.

I know there is much scholarly debate about how to go about ascertaining the correct source text, but I want to submit the following questions to the Better Bibles Blog.

What is the current state of textual criticism in relation to a real or hypothetical source text? Are we still preferring a critical text? Is eclectic the name of the game? Has a tenable majority/"Byzantine" theory been advanced?

Has anyone looked at the work of Maurice A. Robinson on the Byzantine Text?

As a translation blog I thought it may be interesting to hear the opinions of a few respectable professionals about their current thoughts. The question seems almost too obvious, because the ability to translate requires something to translate from.

Oh also, has anyone looked at the KJV use of "damnation" and "damned" in 1 Cor. 11:29 and Romans 14:23? I have been looking for some comments on the almost unanimous usage of "condemned" and "condemnation" in almost all bibles aside from the KJV.

Wow, that should be more than enough questions for now...

 
At Mon Aug 07, 01:45:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

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At Mon Aug 07, 02:15:00 AM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

Anon said, Serious students of the Bible will learn Greek and Hebrew -- translations become scaffolding that becomes less important as students find their way in the original source materials.

"Serious" students WILL, eh? Why not MUST, or SHOULD, or even CAN AT THEIR LEISURE? I think your claims need to be carefully substantiated. In reality (which we must face), as an English speaking audience, it seems "un"realistic for something like this to be undertaken. We need to decide what a "serious" student of the Bible is. Perhaps you would be better served with the phrase "Serious students of the texts of the Bible"? Whatever you go with... I find your implicit definition of a "Serious" student, seriously limited (intentional).

Anon continues, For those who will not learn original source languages, translations will still be useful in conveying a sense of the original (perhaps adding further detail through annotated editions) but they must realize that they will always be approaching the Bible through a thick haze.

It seems that "...who will not learn..." needs to become more sympathetic to the reality around us. You make it sound as if they are being nagged to learn, but are head strong and refuse to do so. As an Information Systems major I could equally argue that "Serious" computer users need to learn 2-3 programming languages. However, I don't realistically expect this because "Serious" computer users can fall under different categories. By your reasoning (from what I can gather), a "Serious" student of the Bible would have to learn... everything. And yet we know that experts tend to concentrate on specific aspects of the Bible. If we are not to expect professionals/experts/scholars to be masters of all, I hardly see how we can expect others to meet this requirement.

...they will always be approaching the Bible through a thick haze.

A thick haze? Down here in Oklahoma, a thick haze means visibility is less than 15 feet. Sign me up for the first set of printed tracts entitled "The English Bible: 15 feet worth of uselessness" and "So you don't know the source languages? Just give up now, you can never understand what the Bible "REALLY" says due to large amounts of Fog; a watery vapor in the air, or a dry vapor like smoke, which renders the air thick.". :D ;D

I, for one, believe that current attempts at accurate English renderings of the source languages are less "hazy" than "evah".

 
At Mon Aug 07, 03:25:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Well, this is perhaps an even more extreme position than I would take.

I hadn't intended to be taken too seriously on this, except to highlight the fact that any translation is just that - a translation, and as you point out, not capable of precision.

Now, I want to argue against everyone learning the Biblical lgs. The investment in learning one Biblical lg really well is immense, but possible and worthwhile for those who were inclined this way early on. I fear too many people learning the lgs in a superficial way, waters down the expectations and standards. No, I can hardly stand to see what accounts for lg knowledge these days.

And what of community, of the diversity of gifts. One person knows one lg and another a different one, someone else is better at technology or English style, or history or whatever. I cannot accept that we should each of us be self-sufficient. We must specialize. It would be foolish to think that I did not specialize at the expense of other subjects.

Personally I would not expect a medical missionary to know the biblical lgs, but they might teach me a great deal about the human condition, about God's purpose, and service and many spiritual values.

I personally would not care if all they read of the Bible was the Good News Bible. I can desire to study something for myself without having that same value for everyone. Does that mean I don't think others are capable, no, they are engaged in other service of equal value.

It is one thing to tell someone else that they are capable and should aspire to read and understand Greek and Hebrew, if this is what they want to do, what they feel called to do. It is quite another to expect this of every serious Christian.

 
At Mon Aug 07, 03:28:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

As for computers, Matthew, I learn the tiniest amount that I can get away with for my own purposes!

 
At Mon Aug 07, 03:35:00 AM, Blogger DavidR said...

Just catching up with this post -- a dozen comments! :)

The first pair of examples ("1. Word order") puzzled me. Exodus 11.8 runs (roughly schematized!):

RSV/ESV: subject - predicate - modifier
NIV: subject - modifier - predicate
NRSV: modifier - subject - predicate

but Zechariah 3:3

RSV/ESV: Josh was standing ... clothed...
NIV: Josh was dressed ... as he stood...

Frank confession: they all seem pretty clear to me! I can't quite work out what is obscure about the RSV/ESV translations here.

Adding the NJPS/Tanak translation into the mix is interesting:

Exod. 11:8b
וַיֵּצֵא מֵעִם־פַּרְעֹה בָּחֳרִי־אָף׃
Tanak: And he left Pharaoh's presence in hot anger.

Pretty much stands in the RSV/ESV tradition.

Zech. 3:3
וִיהֹושֻׁעַ הָיָה לָבֻשׁ בְּגָדִים צֹואִים וְעֹמֵד לִפְנֵי הַמַּלְאָךְ׃
Tanak: Now Joshua was clothed in filthy garments when he stood before the angel.

Opts for the "Josh was clothed" option, rightly, of course, when looking back at the Hebrew. The MT's subj + verb + participial phrase + participial phrase is better rendered in the NIV/NRSV/TNK style. So how did RSV/ESV end up with the inverted word order (which isn't, I don't think, particularly obscure!)? Mabye -- I'm only guessing -- they seized on the participles:

Joshua was clothed ... standing ... .

If so, to my ear "Joshua was clothed with filthy garments standing before the mal'ak" doesn't sound quite as natural as "Joshua was standing before the mal'ak clothed with filthy garments". And maybe they've still got their eye on 3:1 where standing is the thing. I dunno.

The thing is, in this pair, the pattern used by RSV/ESV in Exodus 11.8 is pretty much the pattern used by the NIV/NRSV in Zechariah 3.3! Thus my puzzlement.....

OK. Enough work avoidance! Thanks for a typically stimulating post!

David Reimer

 
At Mon Aug 07, 03:55:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

David,

You can see that I wrote that not all these examples concern me. I'm with you on that. However, these were Meztger's examples so I went with them. The pattern, the direction of influence was interesting.

Suzanne

 
At Mon Aug 07, 04:15:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Anon, you wrote concerning Isaiah 9:6:

the Hebrew doesn't say that the son will be called "Mighty God." A better translation is from the NJPS (Tanakh):

For a child has been born to us, A son has been given us. And authority has settled on his shoulders. He has been named "The Mighty God is planning grace; The Eternal Father, a peaceable ruler" -- (NJPS)


This is not surprisingly a highly controversial point. I accept that the NJPS reading is possible. But in the Hebrew there is no word corresponding to "is", simply, word for word, "wonder planning/counselling, God mighty, ..." (note that in Hebrew adjectives come after nouns). (I have no idea where NJPS got "grace" from, for Hebrew פֶלֶא pele'.) Now it is possible, compare "Shear-Jashub" = "a remmant will return" in 7:3, that this child's name is intended to be the whole of this long sentence. But it is also possible that this is intended to be a complex multi-component name. There is in fact no way to say which is correct and which is not, apart from theological presuppositions - and on this point those of the NJPS translators should be as obvious as those of the ESV translators. But if you are going to argue from the literalism of "the Hebrew doesn't say", then what the Hebrew doesn't say is that "Mighty God" is the subject of a complex sentence rather than in itself a component of a name.

 
At Mon Aug 07, 04:26:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Anon, I appreciate your point that "precision... is a worthy aspiration for translations, but it is quite impossible. Readers must recognize the shortcomings of translations when reading the Bible. Serious students of the Bible will learn Greek and Hebrew -- translations become scaffolding that becomes less important as students find their way in the original source materials." But I would agree with Matthew in doubting "will". Regrettably many students are unable (for reasons of time more than intelligence) to learn these original languages - and certainly not to the level which (as you effectively admitted in an earlier comment) would be required for their understanding of Job to stand on its own without the scaffolding of a translation. And, with Suzanne, I am concerned about those who manage to learn only a little of the biblical languages but think, or let others think, that it gives them a lot of knowledge and authority. I would be happy with your statement if you restricted "serious students" to pastors, Bible translators etc who certainly should know the biblical languages well. But as a goal for ordinary believers, it may be laudable but it is unrealistic.

 
At Mon Aug 07, 04:33:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Suzanne and David, surely Metzger's point on Zechariah 3:3 is that the RSV and ESV reading suggests that it was the angel, rather than Joshua, who was "clothed with filthy garments". In the English this is at least ambiguous, and especially when read out aloud when the comma may not be clear. The Hebrew is unambiguous that it is Joshua who is so clothed, and in fact NIV and NRSV are closer to the Hebrew word order and sentence structure. And similarly with Exodus 11:8: RSV and ESV may suggest that it was Pharaoh who was angry, but NIV and NRSV clarify that it was Moses.

 
At Mon Aug 07, 08:45:00 AM, Blogger David Dewey said...

The NRSV is more conscious of how a passage sounds when it is read aloud than either the RSV or ESV. This often affects word order. An interesting experiment is to take a selection from the NRSV, remove the gender inclusive language elements andthen compare the resulting text with the ESV. The modified NRSV is often more natural and sometimes more accurate too.

 
At Mon Aug 07, 10:17:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

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At Mon Aug 07, 10:54:00 AM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

Many of the classical languages that were taught in schools have become optional, or electives in our modern schools. Typically, schools stress a language that will help you with global communication/business. This makes sense, seeing the way that the business world continues to be going.

The youngsters in many Catholic Schools learn Latin as well. However, I can hardly see public school systems adding things such as this to their curriculum. Public schools typically concentrate on living languages that will assist the student in global communication such as Spanish, French, German, Chinese, and Japanese (the first two being by far the most common in schools).

I personally took Japanese due to their large electronics presence (IT Maj.).

I only know as much Greek as you can get from a 1 year or 1st year primer (and even then I still forget quite a bit, because I don't actively practice what I have learned), and I know some of the basics for Latin, but then... I don't pretend to know more than I actually do.

Why couldn't the NT have been written in Japanese? (Better luck next time for me I suppose, Lol.)

:D :D

 
At Mon Aug 07, 12:40:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

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At Mon Aug 07, 02:10:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Anon,

Thanks for this comment. As you know this has been one of my ongoing questions, what is a pragmatic approach?

 
At Mon Aug 07, 02:50:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Anon, thanks for your helpful comments on "mighty God", including the valiant attempt (a first?) to put Syriac script in a comment (it didn't quite work for me in Firefox, but then I don't read this script, and you gave a transliteration). I agree that we can't be sure that "mighty God" is the correct translation, and so a footnote would have been good in NRSV. No wonder Jews reject it (but I didn't find an explicit rejection at the link you gave). I just felt that your unqualified "the Hebrew doesn't say" was oversimplified, and unlike your usual scholarly caution.

 
At Mon Aug 07, 03:34:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Oddly, I see the Syriac fine in IE 6! I tested the Windows Syrac support some time ago so I have some sort of familiarity with it, - it looks right to me, FWIW.

 
At Tue Aug 08, 12:50:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

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At Tue Aug 08, 05:23:00 AM, Blogger G. D. Grubbs said...

I have to wonder what it is that makes the NRSV more accurate or more scholarly. Is it because it was done by people that have a lower view of scripture? Is it because the people that translated it are mostly of a liberal persuasion, and therefore are more qualified to make good judgements than someone of a more conservative bent?

I have been looking at these translation issues on and off for years, and have found myself able to relate to every side in the debates, but I honestly have never seen much to explain why the NRSV is so much better than other translations, even though I've seen lists of reasons why it isn't. The list by the Orthodox bishop is just one.

The arguments about Isaiah 7.14 come up incessantly, and "most real scholars" say it should be translated as "young woman" rather than "virgin," but I get confused about that. I know "almah" can be "young woman," but can "parthenos" in Greek mean young woman or virgin? If it means virgin, why did the Jews that translated almah into Greek for the Septuagint select parthenos (virgin)? Furthermore, what is the sign in just a young woman being with child?

2 Pet 1:21 in the NRSV seems to be inaccurate, and gives the appearance that a feminist agenda is at work, as well as Matt 24:40,41. It was alright in that instance to make sure the offending word "men" is not there, but "women" was left in the text with no issue apparently. Then in 1 Tim 3, you just have to be "married only once" to be a bishop, not necessarily a man of one woman.

It would be difficult to convince even an uninterested party of moderate intelligence that the NRSV is putting accuracy first, so can someone explain exactly why it is so great?

 
At Tue Aug 08, 06:01:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Concerning Isaiah 7:14, GD asks "If it means virgin, why did the Jews that translated almah into Greek for the Septuagint select parthenos (virgin)? Furthermore, what is the sign in just a young woman being with child?"

The reason as I understand it is that parthenos did NOT necessarily mean "virgin", but could also just mean "young woman" with no necessary implication of virginity. This, if I remember correctly, was certainly true at the time when LXX was translated, and may well have still been true when the verse was quoted in the NT, although in later (especially Christian influenced) Greek it came to certainly mean "virgin". I note that the NT makes it clear that Mary was a virgin independently of the word parthenos. In Isaiah, the sign was not in fact the pregnancy, which as far as we can tell was quite normal (unless you want to argue that there was an actual virgin birth in Isaiah's time) but that before the boy was out infancy the two enemy kings would be defeated.

Meanwhile 2 Peter 1:21 in NRSV is nothing to do with a feminist agenda, but corrects the misleading reading of RSV etc suggesting, against the Old Testament record (see e.g. 2 Kings 22:14-20), that only males prophesied. I can understand your concern about Matthew 24:40,41, but it is undeniable from how Greek gender works that verse 40 can apply to either men or women but verse 41 only to women. On the phrase "married only once" in 1 Timothy and Titus, see my series about this, especially part 4.

 
At Tue Aug 08, 07:44:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

I have to wonder what it is that makes the NRSV more accurate or more scholarly. Is it because it was done by people that have a lower view of scripture? Is it because the people that translated it are mostly of a liberal persuasion, and therefore are more qualified to make good judgements than someone of a more conservative bent?

You are asking good questions. I will answer as a theological conservative who grew up in theological backgrounds where the RSV (and now the NRSV) were condemned.

No, the NRSV does not have scholarly integrity because of a lower view of Scripture. It has scholarly integrity because its translators are true biblical scholars, well qualified to do quality biblical exegesis, and because they translated objectively when they translated verses which could have a theological bias. Are there verses in the NRSV which I wish were translated differently? Absolutely. But, overall, the NRSV is probably the most objectively translated English Bible version today. It doesn't Christianize the Hebrew Bible during translation, importing New Testament interpretations (which, as a conservative, I agree with) into the translation of the Old Testament. It leaves the translation of the Hebrew Bible passages neutral, translating just what the Hebrew text says and not what Christians believe the text to *mean* by New Testament application and Christian theology.

 
At Tue Aug 08, 08:48:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

My prediction: the NAB (or RSV) will dominate in the pews,

Isn't the RSV out of print? I thought that was the problem.

 
At Tue Aug 08, 09:14:00 AM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

The RSV is not out of print. A couple of nice but, but expensive editions can be found at www.cambridgebibles.com. Click on the Revised Standard Version link on the left.

The Oxford Annotated Bible is still available in the RSV as well. In fact, Oxford has a host of RSV Bibles still in print. Go to http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Bibles/TextReferenceBibles/RevisedStandardVersion/?view=usa

There may be others from other publishers as well.

 
At Tue Aug 08, 10:02:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

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At Tue Aug 08, 10:37:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

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At Tue Aug 08, 12:52:00 PM, Blogger G. D. Grubbs said...

Peter, Wayne, and anonymous, I appreciate your answers. I was not trying to be inflammatory in any way but tend to get a bit confused, since I have been led to believe in certain things over the years, and try to open my mind to the possibility of different answers than what my preconceived notions are.

Only in the last year or so did I realize that "almah" was probably most accurately translated "young woman" rather than "virgin." This actually made the text make more sense when I was able to read it with the consideration of a more immediate fulfillment, and the sign more relating to the kings makes sense, also.

Is the NRSV really being objective on most counts, or being biased away from traditional translations? I'm considering getting one of the NRSV's, but I've read comments from scholars across all persuasions, and even many of the more moderate or liberal scholars seem to have concerns of an anti-Christian or plainly feminist bias in the translation. Furthermore, I have considered the HarperCollins Study Bible or the New Oxford Annotated Bible, but are the notes truly unbiased?

There is so much debate about these various versions, and I can see the points of all, and can easily place myself in the shoes of all involved, so I would say for most people that might take the time to follow the debates, or study the trends in translation, it rather inspires a lack of faith in the scriptures altogether.

 
At Tue Aug 08, 01:05:00 PM, Blogger G. D. Grubbs said...

Peter said:
"I can understand your concern about Matthew 24:40,41, but it is undeniable from how Greek gender works that verse 40 can apply to either men or women but verse 41 only to women."

Doesn't it seem a little strange that references to men easily disappear, while references to women never do? Not being knowledgeable about Greek, how would it have been phrased in that language in order to get the traditional translation?

 
At Tue Aug 08, 01:22:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

GD, if Matthew had wanted to make 24:40 clearly refer to men only, he could have used anēr "man" to make this clear, but instead he just used the numeral "two". Also in v.41. The gender comes from the second part of each verse, masculine in v.40 and feminine in v.41. Now I accept that the contrast between masculine and feminine suggests that in v.40 the masculine may well be intended to refer to male people only and not to be generic. This is also supported by the cultural background, in which (from my possibly faulty memory) men worked in the fields and women used handmills. So maybe "two men" is OK in v.40, and indeed this is how TNIV renders this verse. But, since gender is by no means in focus here, I think an even better strategy would be to drop both "men" and "women".

 
At Tue Aug 08, 02:00:00 PM, Blogger G. D. Grubbs said...

So, a term for "women" is not found in the Greek?

 
At Tue Aug 08, 02:05:00 PM, Blogger Al Johnson said...

Is the NRSV really being objective on most counts, or being biased away from traditional translations? I'm considering getting one of the NRSV's, but I've read comments from scholars across all persuasions, and even many of the more moderate or liberal scholars seem to have concerns of an anti-Christian or plainly feminist bias in the translation. Furthermore, I have considered the HarperCollins Study Bible or the New Oxford Annotated Bible, but are the notes truly unbiased?

I suggest that you go to a bookstore that stocks these study Bibles and examine them for yourself. My wife and I are disappointed with some of the comments in some study Bibles which question the authenticity of some things in the biblical text. Of course, the study notes are different from the translated text itself. I was only referring to the *overall* objectivity of the NRSV translated text. I am a theological conservative and I have limited time with the large amount of work I have. Even though I am interested in what scholars of different theological frameworks believe about particular Bible passage, I do not have the time to read them all. I wish I did, but I have to make choices in life in order to get my work done and still have a life.

The NRSV translation team did have a clear mandate to remove all masculine language that was not required by the biblical text. On the whole, I think they have done a pretty good job carrying out that mandate. I think that the way they translate Hebrew and Greek gender-inclusive language is a little more accurate, for instance, than how the recent evangelical translations which follow the CSG (Colorado Springs Guidelines) have translated gender-inclusive language. (Those two versions are the HCSB and ESV.) I realize that what I have just written will be strongly disagreed with by those who believe in the CSG and follow the claims of Dr. Grudem, Dr. Piper, Dr. Poythress, and the Crossway publishing company. But I can choose to disagree as a scholar with their conclusions without questioning their intentions or motivations. They are deeply sincere and I respect their desire to be as true to the teachings of God's Word as possible (of course, for them, as for most of us, it's how we interpret those biblical teachings that we try to be as close to as possible).

So, check things out for yourself is my suggestion. Spend some time at a public or college library or a bookstore and examine the study notes in any Bible you are considering buying.

I do not own any NRSV study Bible and have no desire to do so. But there are many who do have such Bibles and like them. Perhaps such study Bibles are especially promoted by mainline denominational seminaries such as Princeton, Union, etc.

 
At Tue Aug 08, 02:54:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

GD asked, "So, a term for "women" is not found in the Greek?"

Yes, that's right. All there is in Matthew 24:41 to mark femininity is μία mia, the feminine form of "one", repeated twice in the second half of the verse. The second half of v.40 is identical except that μία mia is twice replaced by εἷς heis, the masculine form of "one". The first half of both verses is not marked at all for gender; the subject in both cases is simply δύο duo "two", which is never marked for gender.

It is interesting to compare Luke 17:34-35. These are very similar, except that in the first of the two verses "bed" replaces "field". Even though in RSV "man" is gender generic, the RSV as well as ESV translators have "two men ... two women" in Matthew, but they drop "men" in Luke while retaining "women". NIV and TNIV have "two people ... two women" in Luke, but "two men ... two women" in Matthew. The idea of having two men in one bed was obviously too much for the translators! - even though in that culture it would probably have been normal for unmarried brothers to share beds with no sexual overtones. But this does show how cultural expectations affect the translation. Only NRSV is consistent with "two ... two women" in both Matthew and Luke. I really don't see why TNIV didn't do the same in Matthew as it did in Luke.

 
At Tue Aug 08, 04:58:00 PM, Blogger G. D. Grubbs said...

I notice that the NKJV clarifies it a bit by having the men or women italicized.

 
At Tue Aug 08, 05:41:00 PM, Blogger G. D. Grubbs said...

From NRSV:

(Psalm XXII:16) My hands and feet have shriveled.

Psalm LI:5) Indeed I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.

(John I:3-4) All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.


These are other concerns brought up by the Orthodox bishop anonymous provided a link to. It is easy to see why there is concern in these examples. Any thoughts as to the accuracy of them?

 
At Tue Aug 08, 11:28:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Wed Aug 09, 02:37:00 AM, Blogger G. D. Grubbs said...

Thanks again for your comments, anonymous.

 
At Wed Aug 09, 09:05:00 AM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

The use of computer software may lessen the effect of translation wars: instead of fighting between the TNIV or ESV, everyone will have easy access to both translations and can switch between them at will.

I doubt this very much, the strong party lines that are drawn (and the strong personal choices) will undoubtedly continue well on into the future. It is human nature. Besides, the ESV, GW, ISV, etc., are given away for free to some Bible software developers. But I hardly forsee good ol' Zondervan giving the TNIV away for free to folks like those at e-sword.net. As a software developer myself, this is a point that I am most intersted in... providing as many translations as possible, for free, to the users. Whichever they choose to prefer when there are differences (and they do give preference), that is their choice.

It is still my contention that textual issues tend to get in the way of practical Christianity for most of those who are untrained in the field. While we stress differences and textual matters, we need to keep in perspective that the primary people this affects are the "regular" christians without any official training. We need to stress that, although not all translations are created equal, we do have decent Bibles that can usually be trusted when they do their studies.

Many times the results of our discussions on textual issues cause the most confusion for the regular christian and they eventually feel that they cannot trust ANY Bible; despair soon follows. While we criticize we must also promote, as this is the only way in which I can see to balance the responsibility that inherently comes with commenting on discussions and issues such as these.

Luke 17: 1, 2 (GW)
Jesus told his disciples, "Situations that cause people to lose their faith are certain to arise. But how horrible it will be for the person who causes someone to lose his faith! It would be best for that person to be thrown into the sea with a large stone hung around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to lose his faith."

It would be interesting to see how exactly we mislead "little ones" when we don't know it.

Perhaps this comment is completely misguided.

 
At Wed Aug 09, 03:05:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Zondervan or IBS have effectively given TNIV away free to Bible Gateway. So they would be rather inconsistent not to allow it to be included in Bible software. But then I know that copyright lawyers are not known for consistency and logic.

 
At Wed Aug 09, 06:50:00 PM, Blogger Ted Gossard said...

Suzanne, Thanks for this.

Do these African churches, embracing the ESV as they are doing, testify to their continued dependence on American/English leadership, for better or for worse?

Unfortunately American idiology is too readily received from the rest of the world. So to see an American reflection in other countries, especially those who seem prone to dependence, should not surprise us. This view and practice of "essentially literal" has risen and gained alot of ground here. And its proponents are the most vocal.

 
At Wed Aug 09, 09:47:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Thu Aug 10, 11:38:00 PM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

Anon said, It is quite easy to find a complete TNIV for e-sword using some of the add-on programs.

You can get most any translation using the "add-on programs". Nobody said it was exactly legal though (this is still disputed). I assume you may be talking about the "Bible Import Tool" that can be easily found.

Anon went on to say, Someone paid for the distribution rights.

Right, but we can say it is free due to the fact that the end-user is not the one stuck paying that royalty (or any type of fee, for that matter). So, free from an end user perspective!

;D

 
At Fri Aug 11, 03:44:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Matthew, you make ESV sound like our salvation! I can agree to this one point of comparison between them, that in both cases someone has already paid the full price to make it freely available to all. At least that is true of our salvation. But is it actually true of ESV? I'm not sure that that is what Anon meant. Perhaps ESV is freely available only in ways permitted and controlled by the Crossway website. That sounds like the way some churches or denominations try to control our salvation. The difference comes in that Crossway may have the legal right to control ESV, but no one has the right by God's law to control our salvation.

 
At Fri Aug 11, 11:42:00 AM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

Peter said, Matthew, you make ESV sound like our salvation!

I never said anything about the ESV being some type of salvation? If you would notice, I didn't specify which translation I was talking about in regards to "free", in my last post. Why? Because there are many good free translations that you can get for e-sword, etc. I never specify as exact as you make it sound. Personally, I'm much more grateful that the GW translation is free for e-sword users.

I don't even use the ESV, because I feel the RSV and NRSV are much better. I would never consciously advocate the use of the ESV, even if it should be free in a Bible application.

I, sir, am much more interested in the distribution of free Bible texts (irregardless of which translation they are), electronically, in order to allow people to study with them using software (as a software developer this is a primary concern of mine).

I suppose I should have been more explicitly inclusive about which "Free" electronic translation I was speaking about. However, I found it much more interesting to speak about the legal aspect and definition of "free".

I suggest you revise or withdraw your statement, due to present facts.

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

Matthew, Matthew, didn't you realise that I was being tongue in cheek in comparing the ESV (which you must know by now I don't like!) with salvation! Did I really need a smiley? Why do you suddenly go all formal on me with "sir" and "I suggest you revise or withdraw your statement, due to present facts."

Anyway, I don't see that I have anything to withdraw. You quoted Anon's statement "Someone paid for the distribution rights", which was explicitly about ESV, and then said "Right, but we can say it is free...". To what were you referring with "it"? Wasn't I right to take this as a reference to ESV? If I really misunderstood your intention, I apologise, but I don't think you made your point very clearly. If what you really mean is that you now know that you were mistaken about ESV being free, then you are the one who should apologise, or at least clarify the actual legal position with that version.

Meanwhile I share your interest in the distribution of free Bible texts, but I am much more interested in the distribution of free salvation!

 
At Sat Aug 12, 12:10:00 AM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

Peter said, Why do you suddenly go all formal on me with "sir" and "I suggest you revise or withdraw your statement, due to present facts."

:D. On the second quote, I was making fun of you for what you said to... uhh... G D, I think.

I'm not sure about the whole "What really constitutes as free?" deal. All I know is... if I can get it without handing out green, it is free to me. From the end user perspective, I maintain that I am still right (or at least ignorant?!?!?!).

No hard feelings. This blog is about Better Bibles, not freer bibles (though that is good, 8?)

 

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