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Since I’ve been working in Acts 14 of late, it was a bit of a shock† I was surprised to notice that ESV has an inclusive language note in Acts 14:2 but that NIV does not.

ESV, But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.*
*Or brothers and sisters

NIV, But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.

The question revolves around the referent of τῶν ἀδελφῶν.

οἱ δὲ ἀπειθήσαντες Ἰουδαῖοι ἐπήγειραν καὶ ἐκάκωσαν τὰς ψυχὰς τῶν ἐθνῶν κατὰ τῶν ἀδελφῶν.

It would appear that the only possible referent in this context is Paul and Barnabas. Unless someone can explain to me who the “sisters” are in this context, I’m afraid that I should conclude that the ESV has been a bit to enthusiastic (or “mechanical”?!) with their inclusive language at this point.


†I originally wrote “shock,” but that’s too strong. I’ve commented on others using language that was too strong in discussing translations, so I should be careful myself!

ESV 2011 revision update

November 4, 2011

Not long ago I posted a note regarding a possible update to the ESV. Turns out that is has already been done “silently.” Now, somewhat after the fact, Crossway has finally announced what’s involved.

As the publisher of the ESV, I want to let you know that a small number of word changes are being incorporated into the ESV Bible text, as we reprint and publish new editions of the ESV in 2011.

This list of 2011 changes was reviewed and discussed over the last five years by the thirteen-member ESV Translation Oversight Committee (TOC). The TOC then met in the Summer of 2010, and finalized the list in the Spring of 2011. The changes were then approved by the Crossway Board of Directors in April 2011. Editions of the ESV with the 2011 text changes include the following notice on the copyright page: “ESV Text Edition: 2011.”

Most changes to the ESV text were made to correct grammar, improve consistency, or increase precision in meaning.

They provide a few examples of the changes:

from “yourself” to “you”; from “servant” to “worker”; from “has not” to “does not have”; from “young man” to “boy”; from “capital” to “citadel”; from “bondage” to “slavery”; from “nor” to “or”; from “trustworthy” to “faithful”; from “competent” to “sufficient”; from “everyone” to “each one”

There is a link to a complete list of changes. Unfortunately it is in a protected Flash container of some sort so that it cannot be copied and can only be printed in a very low/poor/fuzzy resolution, one-page-at-a-time ordeal. 27 pgs altogether.

As a sample, there are 6 changes in Mark, ranging from the pedantic to very helpful.

I would judge the change in Mark 4:3 to be pedantic, resulting in clumsy English. The previous (2d) edition read:

“Listen! A sower went out to sow.”

This is the same as, e.g., NIV, NET, HCSB, and NRSV. But since “Listen!” represents two words in Greek (Ἀκούετε. ἰδού…), we now have a more formal, but awkward:

“Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.”

Other than keeping some ESVO advocates happy by “not omitting any words” from the text (!), it accomplishes little other than lessening the naturalness of the English a bit further.

On the other hand Mark 16:1 has been improved considerably, though the change is only punctuation; it avoids a misunderstanding of the text:

2d ed.:

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.

3d ed.:

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.

Mark 7:3 adds a word to the text—one that is very much a functional equivalent:

2d ed.:

For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders…

3d ed.:

For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders…

“Properly” is presumably an attempt to represent πυγμῇ—a word omitted in earlier editions, though with a f.n., “Greek unless they wash with a fist, probably indicating a kind of ceremonial washing.” The former note was, indeed, a formal equivalent (an “essentially literal” translation, if you will 😉 ), but to translate πυγμῇ as “properly,” while not a bad choice, is certainly a very functional equivalent.

In 8:24 we have an increase in gender neutral language:

2d ed.:

And he looked up and said, “I see men, but they look like trees, walking.”

3d ed.:

And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.”

A good change since the man’s blindness would not have enabled him to distinguish men from women before his healing.

The remaining two changes are unremarkable: 3:18; 5:13.

A friend sent me a link this morning to a very interesting and helpful symposium on Bible translation.

Sept 26, 2011 at Liberty University

Ray Clendenen (HCSB), Wayne Grudem (ESV), and Doug Moo (NIV)

There are videos of each half hour presentation and audio (only) of the subsequent responses and Q&A posted on David Croteau’s blog, Slave of the Word.

I’ve just finished listening to all the translation sessions. (Apparently Grudem got two speaking slots; the first one [listed as “morning”] is on inerrancy, and I’ve not listened to that one.) The formal responses in the wrap-up session are far too short to be very helpful, but the Q&A has some good material. Worth your time. If you can’t spare the time for all of them, at least listen to Moo.

A book is scheduled for a year from now from B&H that will have expanded versions of these presentations along with Phil Comfort on the NLT. Hopefully this will be a “four views” style book in which the authors are allowed extended responses to each other. I don’t know who the editor will be or what the title will be. (If anyone knows, please post it in a comment or send me an email and I”ll add it here.)

Updated info: Andreas Kostenberger and David Croteau are editing the book. The tentative title is “Which Bible Translation Should I Use?”

I had not heard anything official in this regard, but the ESV committee is apparently continuing to meet to discuss further revisions to that translation. That’s not surprising, but I was not aware that this was the case. I’ve no idea when they anticipate releasing what would be the third edition of the ESV. All I know comes from this 4 min. video from the BBC which filmed a study session of the ESV committee at work at Tyndale House in London “last year” (not sure if that means 2010 or earlier 2011?). The discussion that was filmed revolves around the use of δοῦλος in 1 Cor 7. Interestingly, they voted (9-3) to change it to “bondservant”—a word that I don’t think I’ve ever heard used in contemporary English outside of some Bible translations. ESV currently has “slave” in the text and “Gk bondservant” in the footnote. I grant this is not an easy word to handle in contemporary culture (esp. the US where there seems to be a collective social guilt regarding our past history of slavery), but I’m not sure that “bondservant” is helpful. Nor do I see it accurate for the current edition to say that the Greek has “bondservant” in contrast to “slave” in the text.

HT: News note on the Tyndale web site

I’ve been getting frequent requests for comments on the NIV-11. I have just received a copy of NIV-11 and also the NIV-11 module for Accordance, so I will be writing a review of the new NIV over the next two months. I haven’t read more than a few verses at this point, so I’m not ready to pass judgment on it yet. There have been some “loud rumblings of discontent” against it—but they started a year ago, long before it was released, I think assuming that it would be a repackaged TNIV. That I don’t think is fair, so I’m reserving judgment. (And remember that some single-issue groups and some vocal individuals [e.g., John Piper] didn’t like the NIV either!) I liked a lot of what I found in TNIV, but there was sufficient question in how some matters were handled that I decided it was not going to be generally usable. The market seems to have verified that call. If the NIV-11 keeps the good parts of the NIV and TNIV and has addressed the problematic aspects of the TNIV, then it might turn out to be useful. I think that the translation committee has listened carefully to the criticisms of the TNIV, so I’m hopeful—but I’m not ready to make that call yet. Keep an eye on this blog come July and I’ll be ready to have my say. There will be two versions of the review, one an academic paper for a conference the last week in July and another a “lay” version which will be published in a denominational magazine, probably early fall.

I’ve just found a very helpful site that is working carefully and (I think) wisely to evaluate several of the recent translations. This is the WELS web site (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod). There are a number of helpful articles, some pertaining to the NIV-11 and a perceptive review of the ESV.

ESV review

May 1, 2009

I’ve just published a short, popular-level review article on the ESV in the Baptist Bulletin (May 2009, pp. 14–16). You can find it on my regular ESV page.

New author of the Bible!

April 4, 2009

I just noticed that the Amazon Kindle version of the KJV is listed as being written by: King James! (author). Whoops!

Also interesting is that they sell this for $3.48 (a 20% discount from $4.35)! … but the ESV is listed just below it for $0! 🙂 Smart move by Crossway.