Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thoughts on Translations

This article almost captures my feelings on Bible translations. I have been intrigued (and almost put off) by all of the hype over the ESV. A lot of my friends have switched to the ESV and are putting it in their churches as their "pew Bible." I haven't switched. I think it has its place, but I really don't think it is that great. It is very similar to the NAS. I use the NIV still. It is comfortable to me. I know the problems with it and when I teach out of it, I point out the few problems that I have with their translation. (One issue is the translation of sarx to sinful nature. It should be best translated "flesh" in such passages as Galatians 5). But I still like it. I remember the look I got from one friend when he asked what translation I was using, I told him I use the NIV (he is an ESV user). He said kiddingly, "I have lost any respect I have had for you." (I think he was only half-kidding). I hope I am not clinging to the NIV out of some slavish quasi-KJV Only world view. I have even looked into the TNIV. The gender inclusive nature of it does not scare me (I know where I disagree with it there as well).
The blog post I reference comes from a NT scholar. He wrote his thoughts on translations. He acknowledges that he can be an iconoclast (just for the sake of being an iconoclast). I will admit to being somewhat of a contrarian at times too. But if your interested in some thoughts on translations (and his views on the ESV, which echo mine to some extent) visit this site. (Disclaimer: it is a site sponsored by Zondervan, "owner" of the NIV. But, in the interest in fairness, one of Zondervan's authors [Bill Mounce] is the ESV NT chairman.)


me said...

I use the NIV b/c that is what I have other than some old KJV's somewhere.. Our pastor uses the NASB during his sermons.. have thought about getting one of those..

jason allen said...

I agree that many translations have a place and can be helpful.

I continue to contend that the difficulty is people will use one Bible, for the most part. This is what I've seen in 10 years in ministry.

So while I have attempted to help people see the different kinds of value in different translations my question has become, "if they will use one Bible what will be the most helpful all-around?"

That's the practical rub in my opinion. People aren't going to use 2 or 3 translations let alone 5-7. So what's the most helpful all-around?

But even with that I don't tend to make a huge deal about translations unless someone is using something that is simply inappropriate.

billy v said...

You are right, but I do think the ESV is a little clunky to recommend to new readers to the Scriptures (unless you buy them the ESV study Bible).

matt gallion said...

I got a lot of respect for you, man. A lot. My new motto: "It has its place."

Lara said...

you're pretty cool, billy v.

Rick said...

Bro...I do think you're being a little contrary, here. I was a straight NASB/NIV guy until the ESV...and now I'm a ESV/NIV guy. My reasons are more practical than academic (although I'm pleased with the ESV's text)

Unfortunately, the Lockman foundation has been notoriously stingy and tight about their copyright and have prevented a larger variety of Bible types to be published with the NASB text.

The ESV simply provided a competitive translation that was more accessible in different forms while staying generally inexpensive for the basic pew Bible.

Besides, the NIV study Bible has needed a good alternative for a while now...and the ESV study bible provides that. To me, Crossway simply did what the Lockman foundation would not do and I appreciate them for their efforts.

Oh...and hold the presses...the Holman Study Bible won't be far behind. :) But there aren't any denominational types that are fanatical about that translation, huh? ;)

billy v said...

I gave some props to the ESV Study Bible. I do believe they have updated the NIV SB. I am just not a fan of formal equivalent translations for simple reading. Now, for checking my word for word translation, I would look at the ESV. I understand about the copyright stuff. I'd like to see some reaction to the article I linked to and his paper. It does provide some translation difficulties. Once again, the NIV has its difficulties. Now when I am reading the ESV vs NIV, there needs to be more exposition (which I think is why some preachers prefer it, we need them to tell us what we just read).
Then again, don't count out the contrarian thing either, I've been known for that.

The MAN Fan Club said...

You talk in religious terms NIV, ESV, NT, KJV like I talk in special ed terms: IEP, ARD, 504 plan. What does ESV stand for? I still use the NIV because it is what I grew up on and am familiar with. Our pastor actually quoted some of The Message 2 weeks ago.

billy v said...

ESV is the English Standard Version. It is a newer translation that seeks to translate a little closer to a word for word translation, unlike the NIV which translates more concept by concept or thought by thought and seeks to put as much as possible to keep the modern reader in mind.