In my observation blogging can do one of two things to us. It can either entrench us in our opinions and preconceptions and lead us to becomming more in a ghetto than we were “in real life”. OR, it can cause us to reach out accross the divide and engage with others who differ from us.
Believe it or not I got a lot of flack from some Evangelicals when I included Catholics in the Blogdom of God, despite the fact that I made it clear that I had no intention of pollicing theology in that group and therefore had little option but to include people who claimed to be Christian.
Anyway, I have been thinking lately that it is time I put my money where my mouth is and encouraged some interaction accross the theological divides. A comment made by funky dung and my recent blogging about the ESV has given me an idea as to a subject we could usefully discss. I asked a few days back “does doctrine influence translation?” Funky said in a comment on my blog-
Whether we like it or not, theology does influence translation. The Church doesn’t pretend to be unbiased when translating. Every effort is made to capture the intended meaning of the original texts, but sometimes there are amiguities that must be solved somehow. That’s where Tradition steps in. For Catholics, it goes back 2000 years. For Protestants, it goes back 500 years (or less, depending on the group). Christians of all stripes generally have the same MO: when it doubt, stick to the traditional translation decisions. I, and other Catholics, may find some translational issues distasteful if they contradict Church teachings.
I am sure that the translators of the ESV would have done their best to lay aside their tradition to let the original Greek and Hebrew speak. What interests me is, are there places where in the mind of Catholics they have failed to do so? Is it possible, given the acceptance of the ESV that is being mentioned online and indeed the call by some for an apocrypha to be added that this translation could indeed become a standard English version for all denominations and groups within the church?
I am not quite so sure that differing translations are the roots of all our disagreements, but I would be glad to be proved wrong. I argued that the meaning of the words themselves of scripture are not usually disputed. Again, I may be wrong.
I would like to invite Catholic bloggers to answer a few questions. I hope my Evangelical readers will be kind to them and we can start a conversation. It would be great for much of the discussion to happen on other people’s blogs with trackbacks here. If you add a trackback or a comment you will be elligible to win a free ESV bible!
Are there indeed examples in the ESV of a translation that to a Catholic reader is blatantly baised to an Evangelical interpretation? What doctrinal issues, if any, are called into question for a Catholic by the way the ESV translates the texts? Is there a translation that Catholics would tend to use? Does the mutual respect for the very words of scripture themselves mean that it would ever be possible for Evangelicals and Catholics to share a translation?