Thursday, 9 May 2013

Jehovah strikes down ESV

Finally an act of God we can all celebrate.

The ESV (English Standard Version) is a pretentious pseudo-translation of the Bible produced to mollify the hordes of conservative evangelicals who wanted something more literal than the NIV. Indeed, it's the official version now used by the Missouri Synod - need more be said? Unsatisfied by the NRSV, which brought the old 1950s RSV up to speed for present day use, a bunch of grumpy old men of largely Reformed persuasion decided to have a go themselves, producing their own iteration of the RSV, with all the stuff they missed from the good ol' days (like godly misogyny and favourite proof texts long declared dubious by real scholars.)

At least, that's the way I choose to tell it.

And now The Lord Himself has dealt to the ESV, which is neither English (it's American) nor Standard in any meaningful sense of that word. It seems Yahweh has taken particular delight in smiting ESV publishers Crossway with floods from on high. Crossway President Lane Dennis writes:
...a flood recently swept through Crossway's headquarters. About two feet of water poured into our 32 first-floor offices due to unrelenting rains. The damage was extensive and repairs and rebuilding will take five or six months...
More important, however, is the impact this could have on major ministry projects that we have planned. 
As a not-for-profit ministry, Crossway is not only committed to publishing the ESV Bible and gospel-centered content, but also to providing God's Word to hundreds of thousands of people overseas, either free or at a substantially reduced cost. Because of the recent flood, however, some of these international ministry efforts are now at risk. 
That’s why I’m sending this e-mail — first, to ask for your prayers at this critical moment; and, second, to ask (if the Lord should lead you) for a gift of support. Your gift will help us cover three things: (1) the portion of the damage not covered by insurance, and (2) the installation of new safeguards to flood-proof our building. But most importantly (3) your gift will help ensure that crucial Bible ministry projects can continue to advance. 
I would be deeply grateful to you if you are able to help us at this critical time. Specifically, we need your help to raise $360,000 by the end of our fiscal year, May 31st. 
In the usual course of events, smiting from on high isn't something you'd want to smile about. At the risk of sounding churlish, in this case perhaps an exception could be made.


  1. "What God has put asunder, let man join."

    And here we thought God promised Noah He wouldn't send another flood -- rainbows and all that.

    One would have thought that such a "good work" would be protected from harm -- something as in... oh... Psalms about the flood not coming near your door.

    Irony abounds.

    And as always, the expected pleas for more money to fix the problem God has allowed.

    Miracles are in such short supply these days.

  2. I always wondered why people insist on erecting buildings in flood prone areas and expect them not to get flooded. Where was this one, Gavin, on the banks of the Mississippi River?

  3. All translations have a political content - even one done by Marcus Borg. It is unavoidable. For many ancient Hebrew words, there is no established definition. Translators must derive meaning from exhaustive study of context and usage. But since the meaning is not preserved in some kind of ancient and approved dictionary, meaning must be imparted by humans and that means the translation will be slanted in some human way no matter how assiduously fidelity is sought.

    -- Neotherm

    1. Right on, Neo. The very act of translating instantly and often unwittingly creates a paraphrase.

      I think it's safe to say that the basic theology behind Armstrongism pretty much requires the KJV. While mainstream Christianity has welcomed and embraced new, clearer translations which have been passed through the textual criticism process involving many more manuscripts, and coupled with increased knowledge of ancient languages and cultures, ACOG ministers have been known to warn their members that these translations could potentially lead them away from the truth (as defined by the ACOGs, of course). Stockholm Syndrome must be a really strong force over which it requires years to attain escape velocity!