Reason number two not to use the ESV

"Ooo, nice!" Click for sample.

I have just ordered my TNIV Study Bible for college classroom use. I'll keep my NRSV in my handbag and an NIV on the coffee table for those coffee-time discussions at home. I have other bibles in the shelves I don't consult very often and even a Good News Bible (ahh!) by the bed for when I feel tired and want to do the whole daily office thing before bed (note to self: need to adjust my bedtime from midnight to 10:30) but feel too shattered to analyse the Bible very deeply.

I'm still weirdly fascinated by the ESV, which means I might have to end up purchasing one but I am in the process of collecting reasons why I know it will annoy me. Usually the things I know I have presuppositions about, I have to end up buying just so my thoughts do not remain presuppositions but become opinions based on fact (I know there are problems with that assertion). I did this with Grudem's 'Biblical Manhood and Womanhood', just so I could become better informed as to why I felt the way I did and could quote the book's claims to make a better argument.

Anyway, I'm rambling:
Reason number two I am not going to like the ESV:

About the ESV, Gordon Fee says, 'in effect it is deliberately exclusive of women in many places where it is quite unnecessary to do so,' (p.50 'How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth').

Gordon Fee, in 'How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth', recommends that as well as the TNIV and the NRSV, I aalso consult the REB or NJB, what do you think?


Pat McCullough said...

That's a good quote from Fee!

David Ould said...

Does Fee actually produce an argument for his assertion?
I don't his latest edition - can you provide the texts in which he claims the ESV has been "deliberately exclusive"?

Rachel Marszalek said...

His book 'How to read the Bible for all its Worth', goes on to discuss other things and doesn't develop the claim in detail. Then again, I shouldn't be too hasty, i am less than a fifth of the way through the book, he might come back to it later.

In the meantime however, this should be enough evidence to be getting on with:
Hi David

anthrōpoi (people)

1 Thess. 2:4 ESV reads, “we speak, not to please man (anthrōpoi), but to please God who tests our hearts.” “Man” here is the plural anthrōpoi, which clearly means “people.”

Matt. 19:26: “But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man (anthrōpoi—plural) this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Again, the ESV has changed a plural meaning “people” into a singular, and translated it “man.”

Again in John 12:43 ESV: “for they loved the glory that comes from man (anthrōpoi—plural, meaning “people”) more than the glory that comes from God.”

You might say it matters less with the above, but it does when it comes to matters of salvation:

Rom. 5:18 ESV: “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men (anthrōpoi), so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men (anthrōpoi).”

Matt. 4:19 ESV: “And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men (anthrōpoi).’”

1 Cor. 2:5 ESV: “that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men (anthrōpoi) but in the power of God.”

Eph. 4:8 ESV: “Therefore it says, ‘When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men (anthrōpoi).’”

Matt. 10:32-33 ESV: “So every one who acknowledges me before men (anthrōpoi), I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men (anthrōpoi), I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

Matt. 19:26 ESV: “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men (anthrōpoi) this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Rom. 1:18 ESV: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men (anthrōpoi) who by their wickedness suppress the truth.”

I am even less at ease with the following which seems to take on a political resonance:

2 Tim. 2:2: ESV “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men (anthrōpoi) who will be able to teach others also.” Translating anthrōpoi (people),as “men,” here suits their purposes. They are not consistent because about sinful behaviour anthrōpoi are 'people', will be "lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy…” (2Tim. 3:2).

Not only is the ESV inaccurate with anthrōpoi, they confuse adelphoi too:

adelphoi (refers to siblings in a family, brothers and sisters)

Rom. 12:1 ESV “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, at present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

etc, etc

Tim aka the Wycliffe-onlyist said...

Are you sure that the reason you don't like the ESV is because it demands a higher rading level (Grade 10) than the TNIV (Grade 8)? ;) Oh I do like to stir things a little sometimes, lol.

But seriously, sometimes it is pointless to argue with people. All of you, and I mean everyone, trying to claim that one particular version is far far superior to theirs is like so much playground nonsense. When are any of you going to put your egos to one side, just for one moment, and stop trying to cause divisions within the church. Perhaps we should also dispense with the NRSV as, to cite just one example although I could give you a number of others as well, in Genesis 1:2 they speak of a wind from God sweeping over the waters. This is despite the fact that every other bible translation gives Ruach Elohim as the Spirit of God. Right, that does it. Every NRSV into the bin! Or not. Will people stop being more concerned with being right, than with doing right.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Hi Tim
I've been reading your comments about this around the web, today. And I agree with everything that you say. However, I do not think that investigations into these sorts of things take people away from the 'doing.'

I think that we can be analytical and investigative creatures in our study of God's word and humanity's endeavor,under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and sometimes our human spirit, to translate it. I think we can also engage in mission, in what Jesus asks of us too. It's not a case of either/or.

I never feel as though I am arguing with someone, only experiencing the reality of 'iron sharpening iron'.I must admit over the last 6 weeks I have dropped the more recognisable aspects of a public ministry role but I will soon be picking them up again in placements through college, but for now, it's me, at home, with one big reading list and as I work through some of the books, I reflect, investigate and ask questions along the way by blogging. I probably won't have time for all this soon.

Re the ESV, I think it is important, though, for ministers to be aware of the connotations the more aware members of their congregations will have regarding certain translations. I think we should wrestle with these things and not be too naive. At times there is an agenda behind a choice of translation and I think we need to be honest about this.

I think you are probably so much in the thick of a very practical ministry with your wife, I can understand your frustration that some of us are engaging in these conversations back and forth.

In my defense though, I do not think that I have ever claimed the NRSV or TNIV superior, it is just that for me, as a woman in Christian ministry, there are certain points about the ESV, which would mean I would not feel comfortable using it in Bible study, with other women. Or men, for that matter.

Obviously, you know I am interested in gender, the Church and the Bible, so it is interesting to me.

In some ways, Tim, you are living out the ideal. May I be so bold as to put out a theory here. You and your wife are truly complementary in that together, you are a ministry team, drawing on each other's giftings. If I might be even more bold, perhaps you don't need to draw on issues to do with gender to the extent that some of us do. I might be wrong on all this as regards how it practically works out for you.

At the end of the day, Tim, if it's annoying, don't read it or perhaps you're supposed to read it so that you can help by getting it all in perspective for the rest of us ;-) Who knows?

David Ould said...

Thanks for the list Rachel, very helpful.

I have to say, the argument is a rather strained one that they have been "exclusive" (the comparison in 2Tim not withstanding - there's a clear inconsistency there). After all, translating ανθροπος as "man" is hardly a new thing. It is, rather, a long-accepted convention.

Perhaps the issue, then, is simply the use of "man" (a masculine term) to denote "humanity". If so then it is worth noting that it's a convention that God Himself uses in the Old Testament.
"Adam" is the term used for males, as well as humanity in general. You can hardly charge the ESV with deliberate exclusivity when it uses a common convention that God Himself seems happy to use.

Of course, a translation as "mankind" or "humanity" or simply "everyone" is helpful.

As for αδελφοι, same thing - this has long been a convention of translation to render it "brethren" or "brothers". Could it be "brothers and sisters" or even "siblings"? Of course, but let's not read the worst of motives into other choices.

Rachel Marszalek said...

I think we have to worry less about being too precious about the feelings of the translators and think more about the people coming to faith for whom these inconsistencies cause confusion, perhaps ideally we'll think about both parties.

David Ould said...

Possibly, Rachel. But then what are you going to do?
In the very first chapter of the Bible, God Himself has given us a double use of "Adam" to denote both a male and the whole of humanity.

Do you think He made a mistake in doing so? If not, then what is the problem?

Rachel Marszalek said...

As with everything, David, we just have to apply a little common sense.

David Ould said...

So then how do you propose to apply such "common sense"?

The original language of the Genesis has exactly the same double use of a term for "man" and "humanity" that you accuse the ESV of using to be "deliberately exclusive".

I'm struggling to see how you can argue that it's ok for God, but not ok for the ESV translators. If there's any inconsistency then it's not just the translators of the ESV who are using it.

Rachel Marszalek said...

I thhink it's of a different category, and I would simply alert people to it as it comes up.

David Ould said...

Rachel, it's exactly the same issue.
It's the very same word being used to denote an individual man and all people, "adam".

How come that's acceptable in the original hebrew of Genesis 1 but not in the ESV NT?

Rachel Marszalek said...

I disagree with your qualifier 'exactly'.

David Ould said...

then please do outline how it's different.

In both cases you have an identical word used to denote a male and all of humanity.

How are they different cases?

Rachel Marszalek said...

You might have to wait - I need to do a lot of reading first:

Don Carson, The Debate over Gender-Inclusive Languagehttp://www.tniv.info/pdf/Carson.pdf (15 pages)

Carson's piece is important, I think, because demonstrates the weakness of arguments oft used by Grudem & co.

And, a more in-depth series which also exams past and current uses of the English word 'man' is Mark D. Roberts Is the TNIV Good News? series:

Relevant to our discussion is his section on inclusive language in today's English:

Has anyone else got any resources?

David Ould said...

well hang on a moment, Rachel. You said quite confidently that the two cases were different. I pointed out to you how they're exactly the same usage of a single term for 2 meanings and now you duck for cover under a pile of heavy books?

If you actually can't defend your argument that the situations are different then just say so. It would be so much easier. But for now it looks like you're making grand sweeping claims in your blog posts and then never actually backing them up. After a while it leads those of us who do actually have some arguments to conclude that the egalitarian position can't be defended - or at least that the claims that are being made cannot be substantiated.

Rachel Marszalek said...

You're too quick David.

I read around before writing anything so that I do not fall into making grand claims.

I also have a hundred and one other things to do so need to put an answer together first which best reflects my thinking on the issue so that I am clear and consistent. I am just struggling to chase a lot of things up today.

I'll get around to it.

David Ould said...

sure thing, Rachel.

Apologies for the terseness. You are right - far too quick to talk. More slow listening needed.


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