Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Rick Mansfield on English Standard Version Triumphalism

"My contention is not with the ESV. But I do have great problems with the inaccurate rhetoric that I often hear from proponents and endorsers of this translation. I have favorite translations, and I have written about a number of them on this blog. While I talk of their qualities that I like and appropriate uses for them, I go out of my way to try to do so without needlessly putting down other versions of the Bible. I've probably been harder on the ESV on this blog than on any translation, but usually it's been in a context of addressing the audacious and often fallacious claims made for it by ESV supporters. This idea that literalness equals greater accuracy or literalness equals greater faithfulness to the original text is pure nonsense if the rendering is so literal that the author's intent and meaning is unintelligible to readers and hearers. Antiquated vocabulary and sentence structure do not give a translation greater authority--it merely limits readership in an contemporary setting.

The New Testament was written in Koiné Greek--the common trade language of the day--a language accessible by the masses. If a Bible version uses renderings that are not understandable to the masses, renderings that sound like they were written in any previous generation or written in some highly exalted form--regardless of how literally accurate--then that translation is not in keeping with the spirit or the manner in which the New Testament was written" [links mine]

-Southern Baptist Theological Seminary doctoral candidate Rick Mansfield comments on Mark Driscoll's paper on why Mars Hill Church decided to begin using the English Standard Version.


Virgil Vaduva said...

While those are great points, I believe that we need to differentiate between literal-ness and the anthropological/cultural aspects of a translation. I think accuracy and literal rendering is necessary, and the burden of anthropological research should be placed on the reader rather than the translator. Just my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

Isn't if funny about all this "this is the best translation" garbage... I mean yes there are some bad translations... but here is the fault of all, Jesus and the Apostles quoted the Septuagint, which is not a really great translation of the original Hebrew... think about that... Jesus seems more concerned about the "Spirit of the Law" than the actually word for word accuracy...

If you were to go and do a word for word quote from old to new testament you can see what I mean... Paul will quote a passage out of the OT and it will read just slightly different in the quote... but the "spirit" and essence of the statement is not changed.


Stephen said...

iggy, i think that's a pretty great thought about the LXX!