Bad Grammar In the ESV

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Rippon, Jun 6, 2007.

  1. Rippon

    Rippon
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    The lightly retouched version called the ESV has a lot of bad grammar . It is filled with awkward constructions , obscure speech and odd-sounding phraselogy . One might say that it is using poetic license a great deal so it communicates in what seems to be a cumbersome style . Others feel that if it reads roughly , well then it must be more faithful to the original languages . I say that the "translation team" did not do very much work . And Mr. Ryken's literary advice was minimal .
    I am not saying that it is a total flop . I do concede that it is better than the KJV and NKJ for instance .
    I will compare some snippets from the ESV and NIV-- in that order . I'll be in the book of Isaiah .

    1:9 -- we should have been like Sodom
    We would have become like Sodom
    5:24,25 -- their root will be as rottenness ... their corpses were as refuse
    their roots will decay... their dead bodies are like refuse
    8:12 -- all that this people calls conspiracy
    everything that these people call conspiracy
    8:20 -- they have no dawn
    they have no light of dawn
    10:23 -- will make a full end
    will carry out
    14:8 -- the cypresses rejoice at you
    the cedars of Lebanon exult over you
    14:26 -- This is the purpose that is purposed
    This is the plan determined
    18:6 -- They shall all of them be left ... will summer on them
    They will all be left... all summer
    19:17 -- the purpose that the Lord of hosts has purposed against them
    What the Lord Almighty is planning against them
    31:3 -- The Egyptians are man , and not God
    the Egyptians are men and not God
    33:3 -- At the tumultuous noise peoples flee
    At the thunder of your voice , the peoples flee
    33:16 -- his water will be sure
    water will not fail him
    34:14 -- the wild goat shall cry to his fellow
    wild goats will bleat to each other
    36:18 -- Has any of the gods of the nations
    Has the god of any nation
    43:11 -- besides me [this usage multiplied many times] there is no savior
    apart fro me there is no savior
    46:4 -- even to your old age I am he , and to gray hairs I will carry you
    Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he , I am he who will sustain you .
    48:1 -- not in truth or right
    not in truth or righteousness
    51:3 -- he comforts all her waste places
    will look with compassion on all her ruins
    54:11 -- I will set your stones in antimony
    I will build you with stones of turquoise
    57:10 --You were wearied with the length of your way
    You were wearied by all your ways
    57:19 -- creating the fruit of the lips
    creating praise on the lips
    61:8 -- I hate robbery and wrong
    I hate robbery and iniquity
    64:7 -- have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities
    made us waste away because of our sins
    65:19 -- be glad in my people
    take delight in my people
     
  2. Mexdeaf

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    Don't go ruining a good book by giving the plot away! I am reading through the ESV this year and I am not to Isaiah yet.






    :smilewinkgrin:
     
  3. TCGreek

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    What is the point? To show the supremacy of the KJV? Well, you have done it. So you think.

    The word of God is preserved in every conversative version, despite their limitations, including the KJV.
     
  4. Deacon

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    Different translations, different translational philosophies

    The differences relate to the different translational philosophies.
    Some people like the smooth reading NIV;
    Others choose to read the ESV (or the NAS) which is admittedly awkward in places but is closer in structure to the original form of the text.

    From the ESV Preface

    The ESV is an “essentially literal” translation that seeks as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer. As such, its emphasis is on “word-for-word” correspondence, at the same time taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages. Thus it seeks to be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the original.

    From the NIV Preface

    The first concern of the translators has been the accuracy of the translation and its fidelity to the thought of the biblical writers. They have weighed the significance of the lexical and grammatical details of the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. At the same time, they have striven for more than a word-for-word translation. Because thought patterns and syntax differ from language to language, faithful communication of the meaning of the writers of the Bible demands frequent modifications in sentence structures and constant regard for the contextual meaning of words.
    SNIP
    Concern for clear and natural English - that the New International Version should be idiomatic but not idiosyncratic, contemporary but not dated - motivated the translators and consultants. At the same time, they tried to reflect the differing styles of the biblical writer.


    Rob
     
  5. Mexdeaf

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    Bro. TC,

    I think Rippon is an NIVO, about as far from a KJVO as you can get.

    :laugh:
     
  6. Deacon

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    Preface to the TNIV

    The first concern of the translators has continued to be the accuracy of the translation and its faithfulness to the intended meaning of the biblical writers. This has moved the translators to go beyond a formal word-for-word rendering of the original texts. Because thought patterns and syntax differ from language to language, accurate communication of the meaning of the biblical authors demands constant regard for varied contextual uses of words and idioms and for frequent modifications in sentence structures. To achieve clarity the translators have sometimes supplied words not in the original texts but required by the context. In a few instances, where some uncertainty about such material remained, it is enclosed in corner brackets.


    Preface to the NKJV


    Where new translation has been necessary in the New King James Version, the most complete representation of the original has been rendered by considering the history of usage and etymology of words in their contexts. This principle of complete equivalence seeks to preserve all of the information in the text, while presenting it in good literary form. Dynamic equivalence, a recent procedure in Bible translation, commonly results in paraphrasing where a more literal rendering is needed to reflect a specific and vital sense.
    SNIP
    A special feature of the New King James Version is its conformity to the thought flow of the 1611 Bible. The reader discovers that the sequence and selection of words, phrases, and clauses of the new edition, while much clearer, are so close to the traditional that there is remarkable ease in listening to the reading of either edition while following with the other.


    KJV Preface

    An other thing we thinke good to admonish thee of (gentle Reader) that wee have not tyed our selves to an uniformitie of phrasing, or to an identitie of words, as some peradventure would wish that we had done, because they observe, that some learned men some where, have beene as exact as they could that way. Truly, that we might not varie from the sense of that which we had translated before, if the word signified the same thing in both places (for there bee some wordes that bee not of the same sense every where) we were especially carefull, and made a conscience, according to our duetie.
    SNIP
    But we desire that the Scripture may speake like it selfe, as in the language of Canaan, that it may bee understood even of the very vulgar.
     
  7. Rippon

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    Hey Deacon , thanks for those various prefaces .

    Mexdeaf , I'm TNIVP . Perhaps I will eventually be ISVP ( once the whole Bible can be had in print ) . But I have a fondness for the HCSB , NET , NLTse, NRSV . Even the REB and NIrV get my favorable attention . Then , the MLB and the Phillips come to mind as well .
     
    #7 Rippon, Jun 7, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 7, 2007
  8. TCGreek

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    Sorry Rippon, I guess I misunderstood your post. I honestly thought that you were KJVO. Glad to know you are not.
     
  9. Mexdeaf

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    I'll fight to the death for your right to read those. My personal tastes run more along the KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV lines in English and the RV1960 in Spanish.
     
  10. Chessic

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    I've been wondering why the English is so bad, stylistically and grammatically, in the MV's, too. ESV is an example, but I think NKJV and NASB are worse.

    Which sounds better stylistically?

    "Jesus prayed."
    "Jesus was praying."
    "Jesus was being in prayer."

    Easy choice, imo. And I don't believe there are significant differences in meaning between them.

    That's a made up example, but the verb tenses and structures are what I encounter frequently in MV's. I don't get it. Maybe I just read too many novels and it has affected my stylistic preferences.
     
  11. Keith M

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    I think the situation is caused by translators trying to be more literal in capturing verb tenses and the like. If they use too much "good English" in their translaions then they fall into the NIV's dynamic equivalence bracket (not saying that either is bad).
     
  12. Rippon

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    1 Kings and 2 Kings

    Ya' have to doubt the literalness of the texts that read well ? Well, it's certain that the more formal translations stumble in their antiquated phraselogy . Arcane vocabulary and sentence structure does not mean there is greater fidelity to the original language . A more natural written style is preferred to cumbersome English contortions .

    The following examples are not to suggest that the ESV wordings are not understandable -- just in need of some heavy editing .

    ESV at the top and the NIV below .

    1 Kings

    1:4 -- but the king knew her not
    but the king had no intimate relations with her
    7:36 -- the surfaces of its stays
    the surfaces of its supports
    17:15 -- And she and he and her household ate for many days
    So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family
    17:20 -- the widow with whom I sojourn
    the widow I am staying with
    18:5 -- save the horses and mules alive
    keep the horses and mules alive
    18:44 -- lest the rain stop you
    before the rain stops you
    20:7 -- Mark , now , and see how this man is seeking trouble
    See how this man is looking for trouble !
    20:11 -- Let not him who straps on his armor boast himself like he who takes it off .
    One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off .
    20:22 -- Come , strengthen yourself
    Strengthen your position


    2 Kings

    4:16 -- You shall embrace as son
    you will hold a son in your arms
    4:23 -- All is well
    It's all right
    4:38 -- the sons of the prophets
    for these men
    4:40 -- they were eating of the stew
    they began to eat it
    5:3 -- Would that my lord
    If only my master
    5:4 -- Thus and so spoke the girl
    told him what the girl from Israel had said
    5:26 -- Did not my heart go [ it's literal , but ...]
    Was not my spirit with you
    6:10 -- he saved himself there more than once or twice
    he was on his guard in such places
    6:13 -- It was told him
    The report came back
    9:13 -- Then in haste every man of them took his garment and put it under him
    They hurried and took their cloaks and spread them under him
    12:20 -- made a conspiracy
    conspired
    14:10 -- why should you provoke trouble so that you fall , you and Judah with you ?
    Why ask for trouble and cause your own downfall and that of Judah also ?
    16:15 -- the bronze altar shall be for me to inquire by
    I will use the bronze altar for seeking guidance
    17:4 -- shut him up
    put him in prison
    18:19 -- On what do you rest this trust of yours ?
    On what are you basing this confidence of ypours ?
    18:33 -- Has any of the gods of the nations
    Has the god of any nation
    25:29 -- put off his prison garments
    put aside his prison clothes
    25:30 -- and for his allowance , a regular allowance was given him
    gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance
     
    #12 Rippon, Jun 8, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 8, 2007
  13. Deacon

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    Your first example a really bad one, Rippon:

    1 Kings 1:4 in the ESV is a close rendering of the Hebrew.
    The word in question is "know" [Heb. יְדָעָהּ ] ...to know, to become acquainted with any one (kennen lernen), Deu. 9:24; any thing (as a country), Num. 14:31. Often put by a euphemism...[SNIP]
    Gesenius, (p. 334).

    Still, I think we all know what the language implies.

    The Hebrew in 7:36 takes a bit more work to translate [it’s doesn’t translate so directly into English],
    I’ll give that one to you, the word “STAY” is a bit arcane… however my wife is a seamstress so I’m quite familiar with the noun,.

    17:15 …another rather literal translation of the Hebrew in the ESV, of course the word grouping means “they” [as written in the NIV] but it’s written, “…he and she/ and her household” [as translated by the ESV].

    Enough...?

    That's why we have multiple versions, if you like a smooth, modern reading version, the NIV / TNIV excells.
    Some however would sacrifice smooth reading to see some of the the structure of the original language.

    Rob
     
  14. Keith M

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    You're right, Deacon. If the original Hebrew or Greek says one thing, it is far more desirable for an English translation to try to reflect what was written as accurately as possible. When accuracy is sacrificed for a "comfortable" or "politically correct" reading something is often lost, resulting in an inferior translation of a particular verse or passage. What is "comfortable" to someone is not necessarily accurate. Accuracy is definitely more desirable than comfort when translating Scripture.
     
  15. Mexdeaf

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    I am no fan of the NIV but it has it's place, especially as a version for those whose English skills are weak, such as ESL readers. I can see Rippon's point, certainly the ESV can be improved, and I am of the understanding that it is being revised now. Last info I can find is that the revision is due to be off the press this year sometime.
     
  16. Rippon

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    Biblish is bad .

    Well , Mexdeaf , put me in the category of a weak English reader then , the TNIV is my kind of Bible in somewhat modern English . William Tyndale would have approved it for today's readers . Any Bible should communicate in the vernacular of its intended audience . The ESV was just a dusted-off RSV . The "revisers" didn't do much work . The syntax is sinfully poor . The reason the old RSV language was retained was to keep the elevated style sounding dignified . That's the same thing that the KJV "translators" did . People in 1611 did not speak the way in which the KJV was written . However it sounded good and respectable though a bit archaic .

    My examples , Rob , were given to demonstrate the absurdity of a translation claiming to be modern when in reality it is a throw-back to an ancient era . I find the way it communicates to be more of an affectation . The same applies to the NKJB . How much does it take to convince people to agree that clear modern English is desirable ?

    The awkward wording of the ESV is problematic . Fancy-sounding old expressions have nothing in common with being literal . And attempting to be as literal as possible has nothing to do with being faithful to the original . Being literal or "word-for-word as much as possible" is not necessarily the same thing as having fidelity to the original . Accuracy has to have , as a major component , intelligibility . If a non-churched person is to have God's Word in their hands it must be written in a clear , precise manner -- comprehensible to today's reader . There is nothing intrinsically virtuous about having a Bible with odd sounding phrases from yesteryear .
     
    #16 Rippon, Jun 10, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 10, 2007
  17. Rippon

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    Yeah ? Who says so Rip ? Only you ? ... Oh. pardon me , I'm just ready for action , or as some of you would rather phrase it : I have my loins girded .

    Hey , I spent a lot of time reading in the library this morning . Doug Kelly translated Calvin's sermons from 2 Samuel . It was interesting how he described the process . "Throughout , my desire has been constant : first of all to be absolutely faithful to what Calvin actually said , and secondly to turn it into as normal and non-stilted , 'non-translationese' English as is consistent with strict fidelity to the original text ."
     
    #17 Rippon, Jun 10, 2007
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  18. Rippon

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    BTW Rob , I agree that a good translation needs to have some structural resemblance to the original . The Message and the old Living Bible are replete with verses having little to no relationship to the original form . But form in itself is not meaning . Form and meaning are not equivalent terms . Form is the framework -- but it doesn't carry the furniture . Or better yet, for a more picturesque example -- form is a suitcase -- but not the contents thereof . ( I threw the "thereof" in for ya' ) .
     

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