It is possible that a generation of preachers may grow up relying on the great translation work of the ESV and other translations and preaching from the English Bible with infrequent reference even in preparation to the original languages? Would such a situation be less or more problematic for the church than people with the “little knowledge” that is often described as a dangerous thing attempting to revise Bible translations themselves? How important is it in your view for every preacher to learn the original Greek and Hebrew for themselves?
Watch Wayne Grudem respond (Windows Media format).
Another question that has been asked is whether the accuracy of the English Standard Version and its increasing use might mean that pastors and other Bible students no longer will study Greek or Hebrew because they simply trust the accuracy of a word-for-word or essentially literal translation. It’s an interesting question, but I think we can go back and see what happened in history with the history of translation of the Bible into ordinary language of the people.
When Martin Luther translated the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into German in the sixteenth century, there were scholars who studied Greek and Hebrew, but there weren’t very many. What happened when people had an accurate translation in the German language—in their own language—is that we saw, subsequently, an explosion of interest in studying the original languages because once people could read the Bible in their own language, then many wanted to know even more and in more detail what the words meant.
And so, I expect the proliferation and widespread use of essentially literal translations like the English Standard Version will increase interest in detailed study of the Bible. And whenever that happens, I think there will be an increase in study of Greek and Hebrew even perhaps by some laypeople in churches because there’s an excitement that comes from reading the Bible in the original language, and then comparing it to what we have in the English Standard Version. I don’t think that people are going to find that we’ve wrongly translated in any case, but sometimes there’s a vividness and a precision and an assurance of the sense of the Word that comes with knowledge of the original. And I certainly want to encourage people to continue to do that where they have opportunity and where God gives them the ability to do so.