ESV interview: Textus receptus and the KJV only people

ESV interview: Textus receptus and the KJV only people June 22, 2005

How did you determine the Greek text used for translation did the Textus Receptus play any role?

Watch Bill Mounce respond (Windows Media format). previous | next

The question is, what Greek text did we follow, and how did we handle the Textus Receptus in the process of translating?

In almost every case, we used the standard critical text used in scholarship today, represented by the United Bible Society’s Nestle-Aland people. And so we pretty much stuck to that because it was very safe and very well-accepted by the academic community.

As far as Textus Receptus is concerned (the Greek text that lies behind the King James), what we did was, we paid very close attention to especially those well-known verses in the King James. It’s important to us as ESV translators to maintain the same flow of thought coming from Tyndale. And so we see ourselves in the line of interpretive tradition from Tyndale through the King James. And so in those verses that are very well-known, we paid especially close attention to them. And even when the Textus Receptus is different from our critical Greek text now, we sometimes even put things in footnotes to help people who were used to the King James see where they are in the current Greek text.

My response to this reply
What I like about this response is the gracious way in which it
approaches textus receptus (TR) devotees. Modern scholarship can of course be rather dismissive of the TR. The writers of the ESV are however mindful of the attachment some feel to the TR and the KJV in
particular. As a result they have not changed familiar wordings for
the sake of being novell. The status of the ESV as a revision of the RSV text places it firmly in the tradition of translation that stems from the KJV. Helpful footnotes in places point out the reasons for the differences.

The process of critically revising the RSV in the light of modern evangelical scholarship is the reason why the ESV often seems to sit somewhere between versions like the NASB or KJV and those like the NIV. It means that possibly uniquely current readers of the KJV, NASB and NIV can all make the transition to the ESV without noticing major differences. This acceptability may indeed help the ESV to become THE English Standard version. Comment on this post for your chance to win a free ESV Bible.

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