ESV vs NIV2011 (Volume 2)

December 26, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Posted in English Bible Translations | Leave a comment

I will be comparing observations from different Bible translations throughout 2012 in my search for a different preaching Bible, but had a note to share even now.  The NASB (and ASV) used “lovingkindness” to describe a character trait of God found often in the OT, especially in Psalms.  The NIV1984 opted for simply “love,” which seems hollow to me because it only gets part of the meaning across.  The RSV translators came up with “steadfast love,” which seems the best option from my perspective, and the NRSV and ESV both wisely stuck with that choice.  I have enjoyed reading the Psalms in ESV this past year for that reason.  The HCSB used faithful love, which also gets more of the original thought across.  Here is an example to show the differences, which I read in my devotions this morning.  Psalm 36:5-7

Your lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.  . . .  How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!  (NASB)

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.  . . .  How precious is your steadfast love, O God!  (ESV)

Lord, Your faithful love [reaches] to heaven, Your faithfulness to the skies.  .  .  .  God, Your faithful love is so valuable that people  . . .  (HCSB – Notice they didn’t end the thought where the other translators did)

Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.  . . .  How priceless is your unfailing love! (NIV1984 – Notice how they added an extra English word to the second usage of the Hebrew to help get the meaning across)  The NIV2011 changes it to “Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.  . . .  How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!  The translators dropped the “O” on Lord and added the “O God” at the end.  The first change seems to lessen the impact.  The second is consistent with other translations, but if they are going to drop “O” as an expression, why did they use it here?  This seems inconsistent.  Finally, notice that they stick with the simple “love.”

God’s love is amazing; let’s thank him that it is an eternally faithful and precious love.  Today the ESV gets my vote, as “steadfast love,” in my opinion, gets the point across better than any other.  This word is so important in the Psalms that this vote will be weighed more heavily in my mind compared to some others.

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