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Monday, November 06, 2006

ESV revision release date

The ESV blog announces today a publication date of January 2007 for the single column reference edition of the ESV:
This Bible features a single column of text, over 80,000 cross-references on the inside margins, and verse-by-verse layout instead of paragraphs. In other words, each verse begins on a new line. It incorporates the minor textual updates from the ESV Translation Oversight Committee meeting in 2005. Crossway designed this Bible especially for pastors and others who want to find a verse quickly.
Note that this will be the first edition which includes revisions since the ESV was first published in 2001. Unfortunately, as we can see from the pdf sample of some early chapters from Matthew, many of the needed revisions have not yet been made. For instance, Matt. 1:25 continues to use the inverted word order which has been obsolete as an active word order for most English speakers from nearly the time of the publication of the KJV in 1611 A.D.:
he [Joseph] knew her not until she [Mary] had given birth ...
Current English would call for negative word order to be
he [Joseph] did not know her until she [Mary] had given birth ...
Another inverted negative word order retained in the revised edition is Matt. 7:1:
Judge not that you be not judged.
English word order since the mid 1600s calls for:
Do not judge so that you will not be judged.
The ESV does get the word order right a few verses later in Matt. 7:6:
Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
The obsolete word order would have been:
Give not dogs what is holy, and throw not your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
The ESV team appears to continue to prefer traditional, and often obsolete, wordings rather than current, good quality English which still conforms to the Colorado Springs Guidelines (CSG) on use of gendered language, the kind of English which is found in the HCSB. The ESV and HCSB are the only two recently published English Bibles which follow the CSG.

I predict that the ESV will not become a top selling Bible version unless its translation team adequately revises its English so that it is good quality, grammatical, literary English for today's speakers. It will continue to receive strong support from some who like a Bible version in the Tyndale-KJV tradition. Some people prefer to use a Bible version which sounds familiar to them, even if its language is not current nor even very well worded in terms of literary standards, linguistic collocations, register, etc.

The HCSB continues to rank as #5 among the top 10 best selling English Bibles, at least at Christian bookstores. After an initial spot in the bottom of these top 10 due to heavy promotion by Crossway and some pastors, the ESV has not appeared on the top 10 list and may not unless its English will revised to be the kind of English that good English authors and speakers use today.

Better Bibles are worded in the language of the people for whom they are translated. The audiences to whom Crossway has targeted the ESV, including children, and those being evangelized, do not use inverted negatives nor many of the other awkward English wordings found throughout the ESV.

HT: David Dewey

12 Comments:

At Mon Nov 06, 01:00:00 PM, Blogger J. Mark Bertrand said...

"he [Joseph] did not know her not until she [Mary] had given birth ..."

Wayne, are you trying to introduce a liberal bias into the text? :)

 
At Mon Nov 06, 01:03:00 PM, Blogger Gary said...

From my POV it looks like a nice Bible to use, Wayne. The layout is generally clear, with the cross ref's in the inside column and the text notes at the bottom. I think that if I were actually using it, I would tire of having all the verses starting on a separate line. It becomes unnatural after reading a while.

Unfortunately, the translation, IMO, is still inexcusable.

 
At Mon Nov 06, 01:29:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Mark asked:

Wayne, are you trying to introduce a liberal bias into the text? :)

Nah, Mark. I just forgot to delete one of the original not's (knots?). We editors don't always catch everything that needs to be edited!

Thanks for your keen eye. The error has now been repaired.

 
At Mon Nov 06, 02:10:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Gary, the verse by verse layout is also inexcusable because it gives priority to the verse divisions introduced by some mediaeval editor which distracts readers from the actual meaning of God's word.

 
At Mon Nov 06, 02:41:00 PM, Blogger Gary said...

Sure, Peter, I agree with you about that. I only mean that I can see its value in certain situations for certain users. As it said in the announcement, "Crossway designed this Bible especially for pastors and others who want to find a verse quickly." It may work for that.

Gary

 
At Mon Nov 06, 02:55:00 PM, Blogger codepoke said...

Single column. Ick. :-D

I totally agree with Peter about the exaggeration of the verse numbering being a serious problem, though Gary has a point.

 
At Mon Nov 06, 04:58:00 PM, Blogger Mike Sangrey said...

Gary wrote:
As it said in the announcement, "Crossway designed this Bible especially for pastors and others who want to find a verse quickly."

Would that we had a Bible designed especially for pastors and others who want to find a paragraph quickly.

 
At Tue Nov 07, 02:55:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

I just made the following comment on a previous post on a similar topic, partly as a response to a previous comment there by Mark Strobel. As it is also relevant to this more recent post and more likely to be read here, I am repeating it.

I surprised myself today by writing positively about inverted negatives, on the b-trans list. Someone else had written concerning the newly revised ESV text:

It still includes examples of unnatural word order of the kind that Croosway is supposed to be updating. One such is Matt 1:25, which says of Joseph that 'he knew her not until she [Mary] had given birth ...'

In reply I wrote:

Oddly enough, I can offer some support for the ESV rendering here. If instead they had written, according to modern English grammar, "he did not know her until she had given birth ...", that would surely be misunderstood as implying that they had never met or got to know one another well, and not as a euphemism for sexual relations. The archaic word order serves as a reminder that an archaic idiom, in fact probably an idiom which was never current in English outside the Bible, is being used. If you insist on using obsolete language, it is less confusing to be consistent in doing so. So perhaps ESV would be even clearer with the "thees" and "thous" restored. Indeed it would be more consistent with the translators' policy on singular "they", as well as more in keeping with the Tyndale-KJV tradition which they revere, to reject also singular "you".

So, Mark, I suppose I am more or less agreeing with you that KJV is less confusing than NRSV or ESV. At least KJV is unambiguously old-fashioned. ESV and NRSV are a strange mixture, neither fish nor fowl, neither hot nor cold but lukewarm.

 
At Tue Nov 07, 03:10:00 PM, Blogger forgodsrenown said...

I disagree with David's assessment of the popularity of the HCSB (the "Southern Baptist" translation), I used to work at Lifeway Christian Bookstores (owned by the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest evangeliical denomination), and they really, really push the HCSB on everyone, especially the SBC church members - if you don't believe me just look at a Lifeway ad or visit their website. This is why this particular translation has surpassed the ESV in sales, not because of their translation philosophy.

Scott Marshall

 
At Tue Nov 07, 04:36:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Scott said:

I used to work at Lifeway Christian Bookstores (owned by the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest evangeliical denomination), and they really, really push the HCSB on everyone, especially the SBC church members - if you don't believe me just look at a Lifeway ad or visit their website. This is why this particular translation has surpassed the ESV in sales, not because of their translation philosophy.

I had wondered how much SBC promotion might be affecting HCSB sales. After all, the SBC is far larger in numbers than any other denomination or church that is promoting the ESV.

Nevertheless, it is still true that the HCSB is a much better translation than the ESV. It deserves to have higher sales figures. The quality of English in the HCSB is much better than the awkward, often strange English in the ESV. Both versions followed the same translation philosophy with regard to gender language. And both are approximately the same in terms of degree of literalness.

 
At Fri Nov 10, 05:34:00 PM, Blogger foreign man said...

According to the latest ranking on CBA website, ESV surpassed HCSB and was #5 on the list last month. HCSB was #7. I have no idea how this happened. I personally prefer HCSB over ESV.

 
At Sun Jul 15, 09:52:00 AM, Blogger William said...

Im against changes to the grammer in the ESV. Why? because i like the poetic value of the earlier versions but the ESV keeps it and replaces archaic words. We dont need a NIV rip off (which most here seem to suggest) the ESV it a bible that comes from the RSV which has poetic structure. If they lost the poetic structure i would be looking for a new translation.

 

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