ESV: don't throw out your commentaries!

There seems to be a conscious effort to incorporate the views of modern evangelical scholars in the ESV often a commentator’s alternate reading correcting one of the previous translations proves itself to be reproduced almost exactly in the ESV. Were modern evangelical commentaries consulted in the production of the ESV, and is it fair to say that the need to use a commentary to check the actual meaning of a passage is reduced by using a translation such as the ESV? Would it worry you if the ESV led to fewer people reading commentaries?

Watch C. John Collins respond (Windows Media format).

The question is whether the ESV will eliminate the need for commentaries at all, or at least reduce people’s interest in reading the commentaries. And of course I think the answer is no, since many of us who work on the ESV have written commentaries, we don’t want you to stop reading what we’ve written. (Smiles.)

But I think, more importantly, that the job of commentary is to clarify what’s in the text, and so the commentary is concerned with showing you the large flow of thought, showing you the relationship between this text and texts that come before it, texts that may have used our particular passage.

I will say, as a matter of fact, now that I written a commentary myself using the ESV as my main English text, it is a delightful tool. I find that I can write a commentary a very technical-level commentary on Hebrew and Greek texts using the ESV, and I hope that the commentary makes things very clear, makes my rationale very clear, and so forth. And the ESV lends itself very well to using commentaries.

The question is whether the ESV will eliminate the need for commentaries at all, or at least reduce people’s interest in reading the commentaries. And of course I think the answer is no, since many of us who work on the ESV have written commentaries, we don’t want you to stop reading what we’ve written. (Smiles.)

But I think, more importantly, that the job of a commentary is to clarify what’s in the text, and so the commentary is concerned with showing you the large flow of thought, showing you the relationship between this text and texts that come before it, texts that may have used our particular passage.

I will say, as a matter of fact, now that I’ve written a commentary myself using the ESV as my main English text, it is a delightful tool. I find that I can write a commentary a very technical-level commentary on Hebrew and Greek texts using the ESV, and I hope that the commentary makes things very clear, makes my rationale very clear, and so forth. And the ESV lends itself very well to using commentaries.

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Commentrnon this post for your chance to win a freernESV Bible.

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Itrnis possible that a generation of preachers may grow up relying on the greatrntranslation work of the ESV and other translations and preaching from thernEnglish Bible with infrequent reference even in preparation to the originalrnlanguages? Would such a situation be less or more problematic for the churchrnthan people with the little knowledge that is often described asrna dangerous thing attempting to revise Bible translations themselves? Howrnimportant is it in your view for every preacher to learn the original Greek andrnHebrew for themselves?

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My response to this reply

Commentaries are vital to our understanding of the Word of God. I hope we will take C. John Collin’s joke in the spirit it was intended and forgive the plug for his own commentary. He was perhaps too modest to tell us more about this, but having done a bit of research I think it must be his forthcoming commentary on Genesis 1-4 which looks like it should be very interesting. These broader issues and issues of historical background are what commentaries can help us most with. Tell me in blog poll, are YOU still interested in commentaries and would you like to see reviews to help you buy them?

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock has been a blogger since April 2003, and a member of Jubilee Church, London since 1995, where he seves as part of the leadership team alongside Tope Koleoso.

Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus.

Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway.

Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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