10 Questions for the ESV translators

10 Questions for the ESV translators May 25, 2005

Well, thanks to everyone for their suggestions and help for me in this unique opportunity I have been given to interview the ESV translation committee.

Here are my choice of the questions submitted and quite a few more of my own thrown in for good measure! Watch this space for the answers coming soon…..

1. It is of note that the group of scholars who wrote the ESV include some great giants of evangelicalism. I wonder how important to the accurate translation of the bible is an evangelical faith. How much does the doctrine one believes in influence the act of translation and the philosophy which lies behind it?

2. A bible translation often obtains favour only in a narrow circle within the church and or in certain denominational groups. It seems from the internet that a broader spectrum of christians are being drawn to the ESV from different backgrounds. Are you encouraged by that and do you have any plans to translate the Apocrypha/Duterocanonical books for those who are asking for it?

3. Speaking of the choice of texts, there are several places where “extra” verses are placed in the footnotes eg Matt 12:47 and others like Mk 16 where the “extra” verses are bracketed out but in the main text. How did you make decisions like that and why have you differed from other translations in some places?

4. There has been a lot of interest in the fact that you are meeting to “review” the ESV. People are asking how extensive is that review going to be. Are there any plans for example to make minor adaptions to English style issues that some have noticed in certain passages? Examples of the kinds of English style issues some are raising would include:
-unusual word order (eg Mark 8:34, “And he called to him the crowd”.
-over use of connecting words such as “and” (eg Acts 16 where someone has counted that there are 72 occurrences of “and” in 40 verses. Four of those are in verse 29, and another four in verse 33)
-The use of certain words which may be obsolete or not understood in the same way by modern readers eg “lest”, and “Know” in the sense of sexual knowledge

5. How did you determine the greek text used for translation- did the Textus Receptus play any role?

6. Other translations gave their reasons on why the chose to translate YHWH as “the LORD” instead of Yahweh. The introduction of the ESV made no mention on why you choose “the LORD” instead of Yahweh. Some might argue that this is not a literal translation although it is clearly a traditional one. What are your reasons for continuing this?

7. What was the main motivation behind the committee in gathering to produce another English translation? Some might argue that another updated translation is not needed when there are so many bibles already in English.

8. There seems to be a conscious effort to incorporate the views of modern evangelical scholars in the ESV- often a commentators 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 lead to fewer people reading commentaries?

9. 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?

10. To what extent was the translation of the ESV bible one consciously assisted by prayer and the Holy Spirit? How conscious of his work in illuminating and guiding our understanding of God’s word were you in working together on this translation?


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