ESV and its translation philosophy and methods

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Paul Rittman, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. Paul Rittman

    Paul Rittman
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    I have been using the KJV, NKJV, and (lately) the NASB for quite a while. Having decided to get back into scripture memory, the last few weeks I've been evaluating which translation to use.

    Long story short, I had pretty much decided to use the NASB when just on a whim, I compared it to the ESV and found the ESV to be almost as literal, but a fair amount more readable--if you will, a cross between the NIV and the NASB (and I mean that in a good way).

    I know it is a big seller (its in the top five bible versions sold in the US). Our pastor typically uses the NASB, with some use of the KJV and NKJV. I can only assume that the folks do as well, b/c I don't recall hearing anyone read out of any other translation (although maybe they use one, but just keep quiet about it :p)

    I also know that it is based on the old RSV (just compare it verse by verse and see for yourself--its almost word-for-word the same, and when the ESV does abandon a literal philosophy, it inevitably does so by adopting an RSV rendering).

    What are folks' attitudes towards the ESV? I'd like to get some input from others, before committing myself to memorizing lots of scripture, and then finding out that I'm unhappy with it for some reason or another.

    Please note: I am not trying to exclude anyone from this conversation, but I would appreaciate it if folks would limit their comments to (a) the translation philosophy of the ESV--is it really literal, or actually a functional equivalent translation (thought-for-thought); (b) is it inaccurate in the way it translates the Greek NA27 text?

    I'm not at all insisting on only positive comments about the ESV here, but I'd rather not have this thread hijacked into a discussion of why the underlying Greek MSS used for the ESV are bad. Thanks. :thumbs:

    Oh--and hello everyone.
     
  2. John of Japan

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    Welcome to the BB.

    The ESV method is called "essentially literal," and is discussed in detail in the book Translating Truth, with articles by Wayne Grudem, Leland Ryken, C. John Collins, Vern Poythress and Bruce Winter. The method is just that, literal but with a solid effort at good style.

    I've read it through once as I have various other modern versions. As far as the method goes it is pretty accurate, not functional equivalence, and easy to read. However, I'm a Byzantine priority type, so I'll just stick with my KJV, thank you. Or the Shinkaiyaku in Japanese (an NASBA type, since there are no Bibles in Japanese strictly from the traditional texts other than a NT in classical Japanese).
     
  3. Mexdeaf

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    I think JoJ pretty much said it all. As for the nitty gritty details of how well it reflects the NA27, someone more knowledgeable in Greek will have to answer that.
     
  4. JesusFan

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    How do you feel about the NKJV? isn't it basically translated off same Greek text as KJV translaters did?

    I prefer the CT based versions like NASB/ESV, but still consult the KJV the 1789 revision!
     
  5. annsni

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    The ESV is what we use as a family and it is most likely where we will go to as a church in the future. I love that the ESV owners, Crossways, has decided that the ESV will be free digitally so that as many people as possible can get a hold of a Bible. That's amazing. While I'm no textual scholar, I do believe that it's a very solid, accurate version and one that has set itself with the other excellent versions that are available.
     
  6. Rippon

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    The ESV is essentially the RSV. But blurbs about it make some claims that the RSV never did. The NASBU is essentially literal.

    The ESV, despite the promotional hype and its Preface, is not as literal as claimed. It's a mixture of literal and dynamic equivalence. Not that that is bad,but the ESV does not live up to its claims.

    Accuracy and functional equivalence are not necessarily opposed to one another. And I am not the only one to say that it does not in fact read so well in many places.

    Take a look at some samples;

    Is. 10:7 : to cut off nations not a few
    Ps. 27:9 : cast me not off
    Ps. 37 :1 : fret not yourself
    Ps. 27:11 : be not far from me
    Ps. 28:1 : be not deaf
    Ecc. 5:11 : When goods increase,they increase who eat them
    1 John 2;19 : But they went out,that it might become plain that they all are not of us

    Those examples surely do not represent "clarity of expression." And it doesn't replace "archaic language" with language in "current usage."

    Matthias Medeia is as guilty as can be saying things like :"The ESV manages to achieve a level of literary beauty,excellence and readability that is outstanding." And :"it is flowing and understandable." That's pure nonsense.
     
  7. Rippon

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    But it is actually taking a couple steps back into the past. And that is exactly what some ardent ESV'ers want --the traditional other worldly sound of the language. It's certainly not a 21st century Bible version though produced in this century.
     
  8. JesusFan

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    My pastor likes the ESV, but says that it is 'awkward" as it tries to read like the NIV and be "literal" like Nasb, but is someone in between, worse of both worlds!
     
  9. Phillip

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    Rippon, I think you hit the nail on the head. Just to understand what you would consider a more modern version would you consider it to be more like the NIV or another version. I guess what I am saying is if you had one modern version to pick and no other Bible, which would you pick? I'm not trying to take this off track I am simply trying to compare what you would think would be a good readable, yet accurate modern version.

    I do remember reading my first ESV when the New Testament was given away for two dollars, then I compared it to my RSV which I bought on Ebay years ago, I was quite shocked at the similiarity and it didn't always make sense when the ESV modified the old and left some of the new. It just didn't make a lot of sense why some were modified, yet some left in the older language. Do you get that same feeling?

    I still enjoy the ESV because certain areas do provide a point-of-view that is often very accurate to the Greek, yet it is a bit surprising that it is accurate in some of those areas until you actually translate portions.
     
  10. TomVols

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    The ESV is indeed essentially literal, less literal than the NASB. At places, the ESV is much more readable. In places, the NASB is the one that is smoother. Indeed, the ESV is way too much like the RSV in places and the ESV could use some smoothing out. However, it was a very good step in the right direction.
     
  11. Rippon

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    Well,if one can get excited about a baby-step. ;)
     
  12. John of Japan

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    In spite of the denials of some, I have compared almost the whole NKJV NT to the TR and have found it to be true to that text.
     
  13. humblethinker

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    Was that scrivner's?
     
  14. John of Japan

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    Yes, it was.
     
  15. Rippon

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    From Thomas P.Nass :Some Thoughts on the ESV and Bible Translation:

    "Simply put,it is a doctrinally acceptable,somewhat unidiomatic and inconsistent evangelical revision of the RSV. Nothing and nothing less. It is a translation that promises more than it actually produces."
     
  16. Paul Rittman

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    I gotta say the more I read the ESV, the more I like it. It doesn't go as far along the spectrum towards literal, word-for-word as the NASB does, but it goes almost as far, and occasionally will be more literal. But it also reads more smoothly than the NASB.


    I haven't seen anything that would lead me to believe that its going to give me a major disappointment five years from now, so I'll start memorizing from it later today. That's not to say that I'm about to start an ESV-Only movement. Its not perfect--I'd like to see it move some 5-10% closer to being a literal, word-for-word translation (like the NASB); and I believe it could move that much without sacrificing its literary quality, but then again, that's just me. :smilewinkgrin:
     
  17. JesusFan

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    My pastor recently completed his second Phd in NT Theology, and feels that the 2011 NIV is actually superior overall as a read and study Biblle to use than the ESV, due to what he terms "inconsistencies" in translation of texts...

    I still prefer the ole NASB myself!
     

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