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Archive for June, 2005

C. John Collins Discusses Commentaries (Ask the Translators #1 Answer 12)

There seems to be a conscious effort to incorporate the views of modern evangelical scholars in the ESV–often a commentator’s alternate reading correcting one of the previous translations proves itself to be reproduced almost exactly in the ESV. Were modern evangelical commentaries consulted in the production of the ESV, and is it fair to say that the need to use a commentary to check the actual meaning of a passage is reduced by using a translation such as the ESV? Would it worry you if the ESV led to fewer people reading commentaries?

Watch C. John Collins respond (Windows Media format).

The question is whether the ESV will eliminate the need for commentaries at all, or at least reduce people’s interest in reading the commentaries. And of course I think the answer is no, since many of us who work on the ESV have written commentaries, we don’t want you to stop reading what we’ve written. (Smiles.)

But I think, more importantly, that the job of a commentary is to clarify what’s in the text, and so the commentary is concerned with showing you the large flow of thought, showing you the relationship between this text and texts that come before it, texts that may have used our particular passage.

I will say, as a matter of fact, now that I’ve written a commentary myself using the ESV as my main English text, it is a delightful tool. I find that I can write a commentary—a very technical-level commentary on Hebrew and Greek texts—using the ESV, and I hope that the commentary makes things very clear, makes my rationale very clear, and so forth. And the ESV lends itself very well to using commentaries.

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June 30, 2005 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible News,ESV | Author: Crossway Staff @ 8:32 am | Comments Off »

Wayne Grudem Discusses Commentaries (Ask the Translators #1 Answer 11)

There seems to be a conscious effort to incorporate the views of modern evangelical scholars in the ESV–often a commentator’s alternate reading correcting one of the previous translations proves itself to be reproduced almost exactly in the ESV. Were modern evangelical commentaries consulted in the production of the ESV, and is it fair to say that the need to use a commentary to check the actual meaning of a passage is reduced by using a translation such as the ESV? Would it worry you if the ESV led to fewer people reading commentaries?

Watch Wayne Grudem respond (Windows Media format).

One question people have asked is whether we consulted commentaries of modern scholars in preparing the English Standard Version. Well, we did more than that. We sent each of the books of the Bible out to a contemporary biblical expert, an Old Testament or a New Testament scholar in the individual books. And in each case these experts sent us back suggested changes and improvements in the translation. So we consulted the authors of the commentaries themselves, is another way of saying that.

And then, in addition to that, as we did our work in preparing for the meetings, and then even sometimes in the middle of the meetings we would look at commentaries on a difficult verse to see what the reasons and arguments were for taking a passage or a word one way or another. I don’t want to say that we just went with the majority of commentaries in every case because many on the committee were themselves experts in Greek and Hebrew, and we were, in a sense, ultimately listening to the arguments of various commentators but making our own decisions in the end on what was the best reading of a verse.

A related question to this is whether the accuracy of the English Standard Version will mean that people will trust it so much that they won’t read commentaries anymore, or will read them less. In one sense, I think that’s true. I think that in our philosophy of an essentially literal translation, we have tried to produce a translation where people can trust every word, where it is reliable and faithful to the original in all the details, insofar as the English language allows.

So in one sense we hope that often people will find that even when they consult commentaries we have said what is accurate to the meaning of the original text. On the other hand, we’re hopeful that the widespread use of essentially literal translations like the English Standard Version will simply increase the frequency with which people do detailed study of the Bible. And of course there are always questions that people will have when they want to go deeper into the meaning of a verse to see its connection with other themes and other verses in the Bible, and for those things, commentaries are always useful.

Comment on this post by July 11, 2005, for your chance to win a free ESV Bible.

June 29, 2005 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible News,ESV,News | Author: Crossway Staff @ 8:17 am | 1 Comment »

Wayne Grudem Discusses the Need for the ESV (Ask the Translators #1 Answer 10)

What was the main motivation behind the committee in gathering to produce another English translation? Some might argue that another updated translation is not needed when there are so many Bibles already in English.

Wayne Grudem responds:

We thought that, in the providence of God, there was room for a Bible translation that would be committed for a word-for-word or essentially literal philosophy of translation, but that still tried, perhaps more accurately than any previous translation, to maintain clarity and readability and beauty in the English language.

We’re thankful for all of those other translations, and I know that they have been used by God. But we’re hopeful that this one might even, by God’s blessing, be somewhat of an improvement—certainly in clarity, and in accuracy, and in beauty and readability. When all those factors are taken together, that could then become a Bible that would be used throughout the church. There wouldn’t be just one Bible for children and another one for one denomination or another denomination, or this generation or that, but an accurate and readable Bible that could be used by all generations: in a church, it could be used in Sunday School classes, it could be used in adult Bible studies, it could be used for meditating and memorizing, and then could be used for the public preaching text of the church as well.

So that then, if a church goes this route and has one standard Bible used throughout the church—that the pastor is preaching from that Bible, the adults are studying from that Bible in their Bible studies, the children are memorizing from that Bible (not that they wouldn’t consult other translations from time to time as well). But there would be a standard base of a reliable translation that people would gain familiarity with throughout the church. And we think it would be a wonderful benefit to churches if that would happen.

Comment on this post by July 11, 2005, for your chance to win a free ESV Bible.

June 28, 2005 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible News,ESV,News | Author: Crossway Staff @ 9:10 am | 1 Comment »

C. John Collins Dicusses Use of “The LORD” (Ask the Translators #1 Answer 9)

Other translations gave their reasons on why the chose to translate YHWH as “the LORD” instead of Yahweh. The introduction of the ESV made no mention on why you choose “the LORD” instead of Yahweh. Some might argue that this is not a literal translation although it is clearly a traditional one. What are your reasons for continuing this?

Watch C. John Collins respond (Windows Media format).

The question of why we translated the Divine Name the way we did in the Old Testament—as “the LORD,” which is the tradition, rather than Yahweh, which is what most scholars think is pronounced, is a very good question. And in our revised preface we will explain why we chose to stay with the English Bible convention, which is “the LORD” (and the LORD is in small caps).

When the Hebrew Bible was first written, they only wrote the consonants, and they assumed you knew how to pronounce the words, and so they didn’t have to write the vowels. But after a while, they began to put in the vowels because people didn’t always remember how to pronounce things.

And that led to a particular problem, namely that by the time the vowels were added, nobody was pronouncing the Divine Name any longer. And the Jews when they would read it would always say, “Adonai,” which means “the Lord.” We know that this is an early practice because in the Septuagint, the Greek translation made as early as the third century B.C., they were already translating the Divine Name with the Greek word for “the LORD.” And so that’s what became the convention for all Bible translations, is to do precisely that.

I think it’s a good idea for several reasons. One is that, well, we’re not exactly sure how the Hebrew word was to be pronounced. I think that Yahweh is probably right, but it is worth discussing and debating.

But perhaps even more importantly, when you have the New Testament using the Old, they’re using a Greek translation of the Old Testament, which has “the LORD” in it. And it’s very important for Bible readers to see exactly what’s going on when the New Testament writers make use of the Old Testament. And for that reason we are happy to use the convention that was established by the Septuagint—so that you can see, for example, in a passage like 1 Peter 3:15, where Jesus Christ is called “the Lord,” whom we are to regard as holy. You can see that Peter is using a passage from Isaiah about the Lord, the God of Israel, and applying that title to our Savior and making a strong affirmation of his deity.

Comment on this post by July 11, 2005, for your chance to win a free ESV Bible.

June 27, 2005 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible News,ESV,News | Author: Crossway Staff @ 9:21 am | Comments Off »

Vern Poythress Discusses the Textus Receptus (Ask the Translators #1 Answer 8)

How did you determine the Greek text used for translation–did the Textus Receptus play any role?

Watch Vern Poythress respond (Windows Media format).

Sometimes people worry about what’s called the Textus Receptus. That’s a technical term for the first printed edition of the Greek Bible that was done by Erasmus. It was revolutionary because most people until that time either had no access to a Bible, or they had access to the Vulgate, which was the Latin translation from the Greek. To go back to the Greek revealed nuances and revealed meanings that were exciting to people. For instance, in the Greek it said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In the Vulgate, it says, “Do penance.” Well, that just didn’t communicate. So people were able to see that the Greek had a more profound message than was there in the Latin.

It was revolutionary, but when Erasmus printed his Greek New Testament, it was only from a very few manuscripts that he happened to have access to, not necessarily the best. So the Textus Receptus designates that Erasmus text. And actually, that Erasmus’ Greek New Testament went through four different editions, and there are slight differences between them. So the Textus Receptus, even, is not really one completely uniform thing.

At any rate, some people expect that [text] because Erasmus’ Greek New Testament is the basis on which the King James Version, our familiar old English version–it was the basis for that version. Now, however, we are in a position where we can access thousands of Greek manuscripts and compare them to one another. There are very slight differences. We can thank the Lord that all of the manuscripts are very close to the original. But when there are slight differences, we want to weigh that and say, “What can we infer about what was the original writing from which all these manuscripts descend?”

We want the very best when we do the ESV–the best representation of that original writing from God–and not simply the copies. That’s why we don’t follow the Textus Receptus–the Textus Receptus is good, but it’s not the best.

Comment on this post by July 11, 2005, for your chance to win a free ESV Bible.

June 24, 2005 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible News,ESV,News | Author: Crossway Staff @ 9:09 am | Comments Off »