Friday, October 14, 2016

Follow-ups on ESV Permanent Text Edition

A few follow-ups to the recent WM # 58 on the ESV "Permanent Text Edition" fail:

First, a friend pointed me to the 9.13.16 episode on the Lutheran podcast Issues, Etc. (look here). This episode was posted before Crossway pulled back on the ESV Permanent Text Edition decision.  It features an interview with OT scholar Dr. Andrew Steinmann of Concordia University-Chicago. Steinmann is not a traditional text advocate and has worked with committees to produce modern translations. He worked on the God's Word translation and revision of The Holman Christian Standard Bible. He seems to hold a more dynamic equivalent philosophy.

Nevertheless, he had some interesting things to say about the ESV. When asked to evaluate its reliability Steinmann says, "I'm not a big fan of it for people who do not know Greek and Hebrew... If you don't know Greek and Hebrew I think it can be difficult and, at times, misleading."

He discusses, in particular, the recent revision in the ESV of Genesis 3:16 to "your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you" and the related change of Genesis 4:7 to "Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it."  His assessment is that it makes the understanding of Genesis 4:7 particularly vexing:  "This does not mean anything at all to the English reader....  In attempting to solve a problem, they may have introduced another one."

Second, Aimee Byrd recently pointed to a series of three posts by Hannah Anderson and Wendy Alsup posing challenges to the new ESV rendering of Genesis 3:16 (see Part One, Part Two, and Part Three). They raise some interesting questions about whether this change in the ESV goes beyond a literal rendering in order to cinch an ideological position concerning complementarian views of men and women. My interest here is not so much in the complementarian/egalitarian debate but on the inherent problems which come with modern translations and their vulnerability to constant redaction and "improvement" by activist editors.


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