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Monday, June 20, 2005

ESV wish list

Various bloggers have mentioned features for the ESV editions which are on their wish lists. The ESV Bible blog often takes note of these. The ESV team wants to be responsive to the expressed desires and needs of those who are using the ESV. On such wish lists might be desires for additional features, single column text, better bindings, more extensive study notes, etc.

I have appreciated the fact that members of the ESV translation team have taken the time recently to answer a list of questions compiled via Adrian Warnock's blog. They are giving good answers.

As I have been studying the ESV, here is what would be at the top of my wish list: that we might build on the nice exchanges currently taking place, posted on Adrian's blog, and have continuing exchanges with the ESV translation team to get questions answered about the meaning of various wordings in the ESV. This could be accomplished in various ways, such as:

1. continue the same question and answer format on Adrian's blog
2. set up an ESV discussion group, like the longterm one for the NASB, where members help each other understand the meaning of ESV wordings, and where ESV translators monitor the discussion and answer some of the questions directly
3. post an ESV email address for questions about meanings of ESV wordings. The questions would be answered in some section of the ESV Bible blog.

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At Tue Jun 21, 12:20:00 AM, Blogger David Dewey said...

Wayne, I warm to your idea. However, I think there should be two distinct threads, one dealing with presentation, the other with the text of the ESV. I think it would be important for contributors to be committed to the basic ESV philosophy. The ESV can be improved, but not become a different kind of translation

At Tue Jun 21, 01:25:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a question for ya...what's the big deal about the ESV? I don't mean to sound snippy, but all of a sudden everyone is talking about it as if it is THE translation of choice. Is it because they have a blog and handy website tools? Does it have anything to do with a Reformed theology slant? (I only ask that because the biggest voices talking about it are Reformed guys, and I know they have a Reformed version as well.)

At Tue Jun 21, 07:16:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

David Dewey said: "The ESV can be improved, but not become a different kind of translation"

I agree, David. In my private email to the ESV team, and perhaps in some of my blogging here, I have emphasized that it is not my desire to change the basic approach (philosophy) of any translation, including the ESV. But there are thousands of places where the ESV can be revised according to its own philosophy. For instance, note these comments from the JETS reviewers of the ESV: "From Three Recent Bible Translations: An Old Testament Perspective, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Sep 2003 by Lyons, Michael A, Tooman, William A:
The RSV'S penchant for placing the negative after the verb ("Prophesy not to us," Isa 30:10; "Fear not," Gen 35:17) was changed in some places ("Do not prophesy to us"; "Do not fear"), but not in others ("Be not wise in your own eyes," Prov 3:7; "deny them not to me," Prov 30:7)." (See my ESV links, at url: for a link to this and other reviews of the ESV.)

I have a file on these negative words orders at url: which lists all the obsolete word orders I was able to locate by using the ESV search engine. Since the ESV already changed some of those old word orders, it would be appropriate, as far as I can tell, for them to finish the job, and make all the word orders be as English speakers and writers have used them since 1750 A.D. and even earlier. It would not change the essentially literal nature of the ESV at all.

Then there are many other translation problems in the ESV which have simple solutions, such as deleting "and" between the Hebrew poetry couplets when it produces inaccurate meaning in English.

Whenever I evaluate an English Bible version, I try to do so by honoring the translation philosophy of that version. The ESV team itself has been making revisions and they will far more extensive revisions for their 2009 release, from what I understand from them. I honor them for not leaving the ESV text static but being willing to make it better, which can only improve its accuracy, readability, and, surely, even sales ranking.

At Tue Jun 21, 07:21:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Wow, Joe, I have been wondering the same thing you have. I think it would be better for some ESV proponents to answer that question. Until then, I think part of the issue is an ideological one, the ESV was born out of frustration with the direction that the NIV team was taking with gender-inclusive language, and, also, a growing (or continuing) belief among some Bible scholars (and users) that the best Bible is one that is "essentially literal." It was felt that the popular NIV was not literal enough, although, from my perspective it is in clearly in the Formal Equivalence camp. Well, let's hear from those who have been promoting the ESV on their blogs and elsewhere. They can tell us what it is about the ESV that they find so satisfying.


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