Wednesday, August 8, 2007

English Standard Version

For some time now, my Bible translation of choice has been the English Standard Version [ESV]. just posted an article based on an interview with J.I. Packer who was general editor and chairman of the Translation Oversight Committee of the ESV. One goal, among others, is to provide a translation that is "transparent to the original." Excerpts from the article:
.... He recently told the translation grew out of discontent with other modern translations - which, he asserted, tend to "deviate from what was said in several thousand places," in the interests of lucidity or easy readability.

In particular, he said, there was discontent with translations such as the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) and Today's New International Version (TNIV) which make such deviations to achieve gender-neutral renderings.

Packer said these translations may have presented "what was meant but not what was said. The reader should know what Paul or Isaiah said."

... [T]he ESV tries to be a "transparent" translation - in that the reader can see through it to what was originally written. Another word Packer used repeatedly was "precision." He said: "We think we have produced a version more precise than any of the alternatives."

The ESV is a word-for-word rather than a 'thought-for-thought' translation. ....

The translation was carried out by 60 scholars who were expert in individual books, often having written commentaries on them. ....

Packer said all of those involved were also "evangelicals, Bible believers. . . . A Bible translator needs to be a believing Christian and draw on the help of the Holy Spirit. There is a spiritual side to Bible translation." ....

Packer said the intent was to produce a "general purpose" Bible, suitable for preaching and exposition, reading in churches, memorization, lay Bible study, and personal Bible reading by people of all ages. A deliberate attempt was made to use simple words when possible, and to make the text "dance along," or read easily.

Packer said the producers were very careful to not make extravagant claims or get into a competition with other translations. The ESV was not launched with the "trumpets and drums" of some other translations launched about the same time, he said.

Rather, the ESV was released quietly and soberly and allowed to "find its own level." ESV's natural audience is "serious evangelicals who want a translation they can trust to be transparent to the original." [the article]
Update: The ESV site provides an audio clip of Packer talking about this translation.

Transparent' translation quietly gaining ground

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