ESV: arguing with translations whilst preaching

It is possible that a generation of preachers may grow up relying on the great translation work of the ESV and other translations and preaching from the English Bible with infrequent reference even in preparation to the original languages? Would such a situation be less or more problematic for the church than people with the little knowledge that is often described as a dangerous thing attempting to revise Bible translations themselves? How important is it in your view for every preacher to learn the original Greek and Hebrew for themselves? <!– D(["mb","rnrn

WatchrnC. John Collins respond (Windows Media format).

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

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Now that we have the ESV, the question is whetherrnpeople training for the ministry will want to study the original languages atrnall. And I think that that's always going to be important for the churchrnto encourage its people in ministry to learn the original languages and even tornuse them.

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One of the advantages of the ESV for me, as somebodyrnwho's a very eager and you might even say fussy student ofrnthe original languages, is, before we had the ESV, I often felt that I wasrnfrustrated in using a Bible translation in the pulpit because I felt like I hadrnto argue with the translation as a part of the sermon. Now I don't findrnthat I ever have to do that anymore, which is a great relief, not only tornmyself but also to those who hear me.

rnrn

On the other hand, there's always more work tornbe done. No translation will ever be perfect, and so we need people in ministryrnwho are able to challenge the translation and so forth. But also, in using thernoriginal language, the idea isn't so you can display your learning in thernpulpit, but rather that you have a close association between your mind and thernmind of the writer of the original. And then the translation is a vehicle byrnwhich you can express these thoughts.

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There are places in the ESV where we have leftrnambiguities that are there in the original for the English reader to decide.rnWhen we say the love of God, do we mean God's love for usrnor our love for God? And it's the person who's studying thernoriginal languages who's aware of these possibilities, who will then, inrnthe course of his work whether his teaching ministry or his preachingrnministry will then be able to guide the people he's speaking withrnalong the lines that he thinks the original demands.",1] ); //–>

Now that we have the ESV, the question is whether people training for the ministry will want to study the original languages at all. And I think that that’s always going to be important for the church to encourage its people in ministry to learn the original languages and even to use them.

One of the advantages of the ESV for me, as somebody who’s a very eager and you might even say fussy student of the original languages, is, before we had the ESV, I often felt that I was frustrated in using a Bible translation in the pulpit because I felt like I had to argue with the translation as a part of the sermon. Now I don’t find that I ever have to do that anymore, which is a great relief, not only to myself but also to those who hear me.

On the other hand, there’s always more work to be done. No translation will ever be perfect, and so we need people in ministry who are able to challenge the translation and so forth. But also, in using the original language, the idea isn’t so you can display your learning in the pulpit, but rather that you have a close association between your mind and the mind of the writer of the original. And then the translation is a vehicle by which you can express these thoughts.

There are places in the ESV where we have left ambiguities that are there in the original for the English reader to decide. When we say the love of God, do we mean God’s love for us or our love for God? And it’s the person who’s studying the original languages who’s aware of these possibilities, who will then, in the course of his work whether his teaching ministry or his preaching ministry will then be able to guide the people he’s speaking with along the lines that he thinks the original demands.<!– D(["mb","

",1] ); D(["mb","rnrn

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

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#16

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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?

",1] ); //–>

My response to this reply

Arguing with a bible translation is my least favorite activity when preaching or indeed when listening to preaching. Of course, we should note that C.John Collins is the editor of the OT text so it is perhaps no wonder he no longer feels the need to criticise the translation when preaching from it! I have never felt fully qualified to critique different translations so at the end of the day it comes down to trust. What I have enjoyed about the ESV is the simple fact that the translation that the ESV uses does tend to concurr with that favored by the Evangelical scholars who I trust and who’s commentaries I read. This is because most of them as we have already said were involoved in the translation in one way or the other. Thus a strength for the “fussy” student of the original languages is perhaps also a strength for the beginner li
ke me- you can get on with commenting on and explaining the English text whilst also finding that the underlying Greek and Hebrew is more transparently connected and therefore it is easier to make a point of clarification when preaching if you need to. I do also find that the ESV is a great version to use when preaching, because of this issue and the very ambiguity that is also sometimes deliberately left in that Collins mentions towards the end of his answer. Comment on or trackback this post for your chance to win a free ESV Bible.

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock has been a blogger since April 2003, and part of the leadership team of Jubilee Church, London for more than ten years, serving 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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