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Response to Ben Witherington: Re ESV v. TNIV

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Response to Ben Witherington: Re ESV v. TNIV

My response to a post by Ben Witherington, entitled Buying a Bible at Christmas. In a list of recommended Bibles, the TNIV is recommended. Yet in the list of non-recommended Bibles the ESV is placed right along side the Jehovah's Witnesses' translation, because it is seeking to push back the clock to return toward the KJV. In a response to a comment, Witherington when questioned about this replies that the ESV, he they replied, "it has an agenda to make the Bible less gender inclusive than it actually is."

This is my first trip to your blog, likely not my last, but definitely a disappointing one. To group the ESV with the JW's? Irresponsible and misleading. To say that it is trying to push back the clock to the KJV? I don't understand that, as they are even based on different lines of Greek texts.

And the response "it has an agenda to make the Bible less gender inclusive than it actually is," coupled with the wholesale recommendation of the TNIV is sad as well. The ESV footnotes throughout the NT when the Greek translation to English leaves ambiguity as to the gender (i.e. when plural "brothers" could be brothers and sisters). Nevertheless, the original Greek and Hebrew (as you put it, it should be noted, as I know you are aware, that we do not of course have the autographic manuscripts, but textual criticism of the many variants to seek to determine the original).

If any Bible is said to have an agenda it would be the TNIV, actually changing his to their and him to they (singular to plural) to avoid the gender that was present in the original language (a list of all of these is available here. In doing so, not only has the original message in the original language been obscured, in many places it is completed lost. In fact, prophecies looking forward to Jesus, no longer do in the TNIV because "He" has been replaced with "they" even though the original word was singular masculine. One of the very clear things about Greek and Hebrew is gender of words. It is pretty clear, and to translate them consistently (just as has been done in almost every translation before) is certainly not an agenda; they have in fact gone above and beyond, documenting those cases in which gender neutrality was intended but could not be conveyed in English. Who has the agenda?

Thanks to…you who wrote me further about the ESV. I will have to take a more close look it. I don’t put it in the same slot as the JW translation, but I simply would not recommend it.
I do know the process that went into producing it and was not impressed, but it deserves a closer look than I have given it thus far.

The issue of idiomatic translation however when it comes to genderized words is an important one. My point was and is that even when the Hebrew or Greek says ‘he’ this or ‘he’ that. when in fact it refers to a gender inclusive group, this is not an appropriate translation, because it obscures the text rather than illuminating it.
by: Ben Witherington (exerpted from his blog) (URL) - 08 11 '05 - 20:22
Thank you for your kind response. Obviously wanting to make sure that the original meaning of the text comes through (wanting to make sure that when “he” is gender inclusive it is translated as such), why do you recommend the TNIV so strongly in light of the problems that I presented (he -> they, his -> their, singular -> plural)?
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Title: Response to Ben Witherington: Re ESV v. TNIV
Date posted: 08 11 '05 - 02:37
Category: Journal
Wordcount: 419 words
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