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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

ESV person and number changes

Dr. Poythress and Dr. Grudem have repeatedly excoriated the TNIV and other recent Bible versions for changing the person and number of pronouns from what literally occurs in the biblical language texts. However, when one studies the meaning of translation wordings where there are so-called person or number changes, one actually finds no real semantic change, just changes in form. We commonly make such shifts in English. For instance, when we speak with the royal "we," we really mean "I". And we often say "you" when we really mean generic "anyone" as in "You can tell a man from the company he keeps."

Blogger David McKay has noticed that the ESV, which Dr. Poythress and Dr. Grudem helped translate, has such person and number changes which they have objected to in other Bible versions:
But what I'm also finding is that the ESV seems to use a lot of the translation methods which its champions deplore in translations such as the TNIV. For example, in Hosea [which I read through yesterday and today], the translators change the person and number in the original Hebrew to make the meaning clearer.

Hosea 2 verse 6 is rendered
I will hedge up her way with thorns,
but the footnote says that the Hebrew text says your way.
In chapter 4 verse 19 the Hebrew original
A wind has wrapped her in its wings
is changed to
A wind has wrapped them in its wings.

Now this is not a problem to me, but the apologists for the ESV say that when the TNIV changes 3rd person to 2nd or from singular to plural, they are changing the Word of God. When the RSV revisers [which is a more accurate description of the ESV translation team] alter the original are they not also changing the Word of God?
Hmm? Are person and number changes right for the ESV but wrong for the TNIV? I think not. Personally, I think that person and number changes that make a translation better fit the natural patterns of the target language and do not change meaning are just fine, whether they occur in the NLT, TNIV, or ESV.

What's fair for the goose is fair for the gander. What's fair for the ESV is fair for the TNIV. And good, clear, accurate, natural translation is, indeed, something fair. It makes for better Bibles, in fact.

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At Wed Sep 27, 08:39:00 PM, Blogger Trierr said...

Okay, I can't resist...

Isn't part of the problem that many of the ESV proponents don't believe that fairness applies equally to goose and gander, but that the goose is actually there to compliment the gander?

At Thu Sep 28, 07:37:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Isn't part of the problem that many of the ESV proponents don't believe that fairness applies equally to goose and gander, but that the goose is actually there to compliment the gander?


Honk, if you love puns!!

At Fri Sep 29, 10:19:00 AM, Blogger Brian said...

they only object to those changes that interfere with their theology: now women allowed.

while I like the ESV in many respects I find them to be inconsistant in their attempt to be essentially literal, I am almost ready to either switch back to the NASU or the NRSV.

At Sat Sep 30, 04:24:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

To be fair to the ESV proponents, not all of the "changes" that they object to relate to gender language. In Wayne Grudem's list of Translation Inaccuracies in the 2005 TNIV, out of 910 "changes" in TNIV which he objects to, "Most of the changes in this list have to do with gender language ... However, at the end we have also included a list of 24 verses that were changed to avoid using the phrase "the Jews" and 41 verses where the nuance of holiness in "saints" has been lost." Thus only 845 out of the 910 relate to gender. That is 93% of them. So perhaps that is an estimate of the importance of the gender issue in Grudem's theology.


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