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Your work in the "How to..." series has been extremely valuable. I also enjoyed reading your article about the ESV. Please continue your excellent observations on translation philosophy.

Also, are you planning on having a debate with Mounce at the next ETS? I am a bit confused about when that is, or if it is going to happen.

Mark wrote:
I am not saying that we should dumb-down or oversimplify our Bible translations (though there is a place for simplified versions for those with rudimentary reading skills). Our primary goal, rather, should be to produce the meaning the original authors intended, translated as close to the same style and register (reading level) as the original author. In other words, we need to translate Koine Greek into Koine English.


I'm starting to use the term just-in-time grammar. It refers to the grammar used by a translation which supports the reader obtaining the meaning at the time of the reading. The reader does not have to analyze the grammar in order to obtain the meaning. And, to be clear, I'm not referring to analyzing the concepts and propositions of the text--we don't dumb those down. I'm referring to the grammar. For translations which use grammar requiring analysis, I use the phrase analyze-me grammar.

As you mention above, both types of translations are needed. And each suits a different audience with a different skill set.

I wonder what would happen if Zondervan created a "study helps" set of books that fostered development of the skill set necessary to analyze a literally rendered text? And pitched it to a market defined by those who use literal translations? Workbooks could encourage the "student" to "say the result of the analysis in English."

It seems to me this might foster an appreciation for the "other" kind of translation. And, it would help us all toward the goal of bringing together quality English grammar and accurate, Biblical exegesis.

Also, if the student "says the meaning" with quality English grammar, then he or she understands the text. And that transforms the soul. That's what it is all about.

Well, maybe that is (at the least ) the start of an idea.

Thanks Nathan.

No debate is planned. Rather, Bill said that he would likely prepare a paper next year explaining the ESV's translation philosophy.

I am considering starting an ETS group on Bible Translation and Linguistics. These ETS sections generally have a steering committee with representatives from various views, so it could become a forum to discuss these issues.

Thanks Mike, great insights. I actually do an exercise something like that in my Hermeneutics class. I print up Ephesians 1 from the NASB and ask my students to tell me what each phrase means (they are at a loss for most of them). Then I include additional versions: TNIV, NLT and Message, and for all four I ask them to identify "nonstandard English" as well as phrases they think might be mistranslated.

While this can be very eye-opening for most students, I am always surprised at how many continue to identify the literal version as more "accurate" because it sounds more "biblical". When translations sound too much like real English they often say they have too much "paraphrase" or don't sound solemn enough. The KJV tradition has very deep roots in our culture.

Part of the problem in this debate is that the term accurate is a code word for literal, and the assumption is that the Bible the way we've heard it for so long KJV, RSV, and not ESV, sounds "right". Two years back I posted about how we can be attached to certain translations here.

But I would argue (and have done so) that accuracy should be defined the way it is for translations between modern languages where there are bilinguals to keep us honest.

Oops, I meant "... we've heard it for so long, KJV, RSV, and now ESV, ...

I doubt my paper at the next ETS will be a debate with Mark. But I will be sure that he has gone over it with sufficient care that I am fair, as he tries to be.

Enjoyed your paper on Why the ESV should not be the SEV. Just a thought for you, I'm not a scholar in either Greek or Hebrew ... you spoke of the flower of the grass as "a wild flower" ... it may well be flax grass which does grow in the Middle east, produces a small blue flower in the morning which lasts at most one day. Of course I cannot confirm it, just thought you might like to know (if you didn't already)

Thanks Kevin, that's another possibility. I suggested "wild flower" both because the BDAG lexicon gives this meaning, and also because the Hebrew text to which James 1:10 (cf. 1 Peter 1:24) alludes (Isa. 40:6) uses the Hebrew idiom tsits ha-sadeh which means "flower of the field," presumably a wild flower. The Septuagint translated this Hebrew idiom into a Greek one (anthos chortou), which apparently meant the same thing. But, of course, your point is well take and flax grass could be called a "wild flower" since it is a grass that bears a flower. My point was that in English we don't usually refer to anything that grows as a "flower of grass." That is an unnatural English phrase for what was a natural Greek idiom.

I wish that whoever administers this blog would prevent "permalinks" from being so ridiculously long. When I find a good post like this, it's worth referencing elsewhere--including *printed* things like syllabi. This one is 169 characters long! :( If it's any help and saves someone a step, here's a shorter one to the same: http://tinyurl.com/9omnxz (The problem with using this approach is that no one knows to what the url refers without adding additional text!) So blog master, *please* change the proceedures here!

Dr. Strauss,

Thank you for your post and your paper. I too am not a Greek or Hebrew scholar but I do read and speak "Koine English".

I have read on the web and in print much about these "translation wars" that are ongoing and have reached the point of uber-frustration. To me it seems that we are approaching the point where we will cause believers and nonbelievers both to begin to doubt the scriptures. If you read the NLTse maybe it isn't getting the passage right, how can I trust it. Must I read God's message to me only in archaic words that I have never heard of except when reading Chaucer?
We thought the "alphabet agencies" of the government were bad, try the translation "alphabet soup" on a Sunday morning - NIV, ESV, NASB, HCSB, NLT, etc, etc. Sure it would be great to have one predominate common version (I thought the NIV had been that for some time, guess I am wrong) with the others supplementing and helping in areas where readers language skills are either superior or less than we hope.

Personally, I have moved to the Holman CSB, why? It just seems to read comfortably to me, like I speak to my soldiers, wife and daughters everyday. I still use my very well worn NIV and will occasionally look at the NASB (MacArthur study bible). Frankly, the ESV reads too much like the old KJV for me and in my opinion that is precisely why it should not be a common, predominate translation.
At the end of the day, the best translation is a used translation. One that the reader is comfortable with and understands but just as importantly he/she can read it and explain it in everyday common English. If we can do it with technical manuals in the Army I am pretty sure that we can do the same with the most important message to ever be transmitted to the human race.
I apologize for the length, thank you for the opportunity to "rant" a little.
Blessings to all involved,
1SG Terry Thomas

an inscription in a book given to my son:

Capital Epsilon
unknown letter
Capitol Phi
omicron (or u?)

Capitol Delta
omicron (with accent above it)
unknown letter (looks like baby english "d")
Capitol D
omicron with accent

Any ideas what it means?
The last word is God.
This was supposed to be a thing early christians would use as a greeting or parting comment.

Any ideas what it means?

If you want, I could scan it in and send the scan.

Steve Mitchell

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