ESV Changes in 2016

September 21, 2016 at 11:25 am | Posted in English Bible Translations, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I thought some readers might like to know this.  I’ve been asked before if the ESV had made changes from the originally released Bible.  I commented on that here.  Those were earlier changes made sometime soon after 2001.  Now, once again, they have made a small number of changes.  Here is a website that lists all the changes that were made in 2016.  The translators claim this is the final text of the ESV.

I don’t know the reasoning behind most of these changes, some could be significant, like Genesis 3:16 and 4:7.  Some others are corrections that apparently were not caught the first time changes were made; an example is Numbers 14:42 where the new text changes “Lord” to “LORD.”  A quick glance at any modern translation will tell you this was a mistake in the earlier ESV editions.

The translators say that the 2016 changes are “limited to 52 words (out of more than 775,000 total words in ESV Bible) found in 29 verses (out of more than 31,000 verses in the ESV).  All that is really rather minor.

Keep reading the Word.

Did the Translators Slightly Alter the ESV?

May 23, 2014 at 6:22 pm | Posted in English Bible Translations, Questions for Pastor Glenn | 1 Comment

I was asked this question in the past, and didn’t know the answer at the time.  I’ve since discovered the answer.  Here’s the note I sent to the original questioner:

You asked me once if the original ESV had been slightly altered at some point in time, and though I wasn’t sure, I thought I’d seen something different in my first edition from what I read in a later edition.
Last week I was preaching through Jesus’ baptism in Mark 1.  My first edition ESV, which I keep on my desk said, “he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending . . .”  As I did a word study on “opened” I was surprised that the ESV translated it the way they did, since it is a stronger word than what Stephen saw in Acts 7 and what John saw in Revelation.  The NIV says “he saw heaven being torn open . . .”  (HCSB is the same; NET says “splitting apart”)  But when I switched to my ESV preaching Bible and was reviewing my sermon, I noticed it said, “the heavens being torn open.”  So yes, they have made a few changes from the first edition.  This was definitely a good one.
Just for curiosity sake, I looked it up a little history:
The ASV (1901) translated it “rent asunder.”
The NASB (1995) which came from the ASV surprisingly softened it to “opening.”
The RSV (1946) which also came from the ASV softened it even more to “opened.”
The NRSV (1989), which came from the RSV returned to “torn apart.”
The ESV also came from the RSV, and though they kept the RSV wording in the first edition, they changed it for later versions.

The End of Proverbs and a Noble Wife

August 2, 2012 at 7:35 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts, English Bible Translations, Wisdom | Leave a comment

I finished Proverbs today and have three thoughts to share.

First, I have an amazing wife who clearly fits the Proverbs description “a wife of noble character.” (31:10)  Next month will be our thirtieth anniversary, and I can say without reservation that “her worth is far above rubies.”  Many things in this chapter could be said, but the descriptions that describe her best are these: “She provides food for her family;” “she sets about her work vigorously;” “she is clothed with strength and dignity;” “she speaks with wisdom;” “faithful instruction is on her tongue;” and “a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”  I am thankful everyday for the amazing gift she is to me.  I am still exhilarated by her love (Prov 5:19).  Cathy, many women do noble things, but you surpass them all!

Second, I am done with the NIV2011.  If you’ve followed my thinking on this matter throughout the year, you already knew this.  I had planned to read the NIV2011 through in my devotions this year, but Proverbs was so bad about using they, them and their as plural pronouns, and about changing singular nouns to plurals so they could use those pronouns, that I had trouble getting through it.  I had already switched most of my reading plan to the ESV, but was still reading Psalms and Proverbs from the NIV2011.  I still have a few Psalms to complete, and will try to do that, but Proverbs was the end for me as far as my search for the next Bible and the NIV are concerned.  You can read more of my thoughts on this matter here.

Finally, “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” (30:5)  I am thankful for God’s wonderful word that I can read every day in my native tongue!

Grieving the NIV — part 2

June 30, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Posted in English Bible Translations | Leave a comment

I have been busy the past few days with comments on the previous post of this title.  If you have been following my series of articles on ESV vs NIV2011, you will want to revisit that post and read the comments section.  Here is the link to that article.

Grieving the NIV (ESV vs NIV2011 vol. 5)

June 25, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Posted in English Bible Translations | 14 Comments

I haven’t written about this topic for a while even though I promised to post occasional notes about it throughout this year.  I have made numerous notes of possible translation thoughts and questions in recent months, but haven’t had time to compile those.  However, I did want to write these thoughts.

I will always view the NIV(1978, 1984) as the greatest translation of my generation.  I was given a NIV New Testament in 1976 and was on the waiting list for the first edition of the entire Bible in 1978.  I have been memorizing out of it for about 28 years and preaching out of it for 25.  It has been a best seller because it captured the language of my generation.  I understand that language evolves and minor changes need to be made in translations.  I also realize that I am getting older and may be more uncomfortable with change now than I have been in the past, especially since I have become so comfortable with the NIV1984.  However, the NIV2011 is an entirely different beast.  This is not a minor edition of the same translation; it is a different translation, though based on the earlier one.  It appears that there are numerous changes on every page.  Here are my three major thoughts:

First, the translators or publishers are hiding what this translation is and using a marketing scheme that is shady at best, and downright dishonest at worst.  I addressed that issue here.

Second, it seems the NIV2011 translators have violated their own stated translation principles.  This is demonstrated in their refusal to include “selah” from the text of Psalms.  You can read my thoughts here.

Finally, I believe the NIV2011 translators have sacrificed clarity for political correctness.  This becomes most evident in their incessant use of they, them, their as singular pronouns.  I have mentioned this in other places, but have never concentrated on it in this series of articles.  It is so bothersome to me, and so prevalent in the NIV2011, that this alone causes me to look for a preaching Bible somewhere else.  The translators argue that these pronouns have become singular through common usage.  I understand that common usage determines grammar; however, when the older usage is still acceptable and offers greater clarity, one must opt, especially when dealing with scripture, for the higher clarity.  John Piper and Wayne Grudem present evidence for the common usage of masculine, singular pronouns in this article and its links.  As Piper comments about this matter, “The larger issue here is: Are the ‘programmatic changes’ worth the difficulties that the translators find themselves in when trying to bring singular Greek or Hebrew words over into English as plurals, or masculine words over into English without masculine connotations?  The price is high and linguistically unnecessary.”

I read Isaiah 26:3 in my devotions just the other day.  I am familiar with the famous KJV language here and with the ESV (which is really close to the translation I memorized it) “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”  The NIV2011 has “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”  On this verse a deliberate change from a singular to a plural object avoids the misuse (in my mind) of plural pronouns for singular objects, but it changes the language of the original and loses the intended punch.  Did God inspire this statement in singular for a reason?  That I don’t know, but it shouldn’t be changed without good reason.  Besides, the singular has more impact on the reader as though the verse were speaking to him; the plural lacks that punch.  (Did you notice what pronoun I used?)  The same could be said of Isaiah 32:8.  Where the NASB had “The noble man devises noble plans, and by noble plans he stands,” the NIV2011 has “The noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand.”

Probably the worst example of this I’ve run across is in Mark.  “Whoever (singular) wants to be my disciple (singular) must deny themselves (plural) and take up their (plural) cross (singular) and follow me.  For whoever (singular) wants to save their (plural) life (singular) will lose it, but whoever (singular) loses their (plural) life (singular) for me and for the gospel will save it.”  Wow!  That seems like a lot of unnecessary verbal gymnastics to avoid using “he” and “his” as generic pronouns.

There are three questions that bother me.  They are harsh questions, but valid ones.  I don’t mean them to be accusatory – I do not doubt the sincerity of the translators – but the questions remain.  I wonder what else is hidden for marketing purposes.  I wonder how many other translation principles were violated.   I wonder how often clarity was sacrificed for political correctness.  These matters are serious enough in my mind to make me give up using the NIV2011 as my preaching Bible.

I am grieving as I write those words, because I have so loved the NIV.  It’s time to bury an old friend.  There are probably many more NIV fans out there who can only hope the 1984 edition is someday put back in print.

ESV vs NIV2011 (Volume 4)

May 22, 2012 at 11:08 am | Posted in English Bible Translations | Leave a comment

I haven’t posted on this topic for a while.  Though my thoughts about it have been abundant, my time to write has been in short supply.  However, I recently ran across a review of the NIV2011 that, though lengthy, is worth the time to read.  Dr. Wallace’s discussion of literal verses accurate is alone worth the cost of admission.  I often run across people who equate those two things.  You can link to his article here.  I have linked to part 4 of 4 because that page has links to the other three.  Read the Word!

For my conclusions of a year of reading and comparing these two translations (NIV2011 and ESV) go to this post.

Ultimate Truth: Politicians Just Don’t Get It

February 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, English Bible Translations | Leave a comment

King Balak just didn’t get it.  He believed that money and personal agenda, especially a king’s agenda, trumps everything else.  He thought his desired outcome ought to be everybody’s desired outcome.  He was clueless that some men can act from conviction of ultimate truth rather than personal agenda.  When Balak invited the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites by promising him lots of money, he just naturally assumed that Balaam would be enticed to come, but Balaam warned him that he would only speak what God told him to speak.  “Even if Balak gave me his palace filled with silver and gold, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the Lord my God.” (Numbers 22:18)

When Balaam, after an amusing incident with his donkey for which he is most famous, came to Balak and blessed the Israelites instead of cursing them, the king was furious.  Balak thought that seeing the Israelites from a different location would change Balaam’s (or maybe God’s) mind.  He tried three times to get Balaam to curse the people of God, and three times Balaam blessed them instead.  Balak sent the prophet away without any of the reward he promised, which was just as Balaam expected.

God’s principles are God’s principles; they are unchanging.  They remain in place regardless of circumstances, like location or promised riches; they are based on ultimate truth.  Many politicians today are like King Balak.  They just don’t get it.  They believe that money and personal agenda, especially a powerful politician’s agenda, trumps everything else. They think their desired outcomes ought to be everybody’s desired outcomes.  They are clueless that some men can act from conviction of ultimate truth rather than personal agenda.  They naturally assume that others will be enticed by their promises.  But when their agenda crosses the line of ultimate truth, they are furious that people will stand against them.

In recent days we have seen some examples of leaders crossing the line, and I believe we will see many more, unless the outcome of the upcoming election dramatically changes things.  The time to stand against the personal agendas of those in power, even if it means civil disobedience, will come (as Chuck Colson points out in this recent video).  When it does, and when Christians take that stand, the authorities will be furious.  They just won’t get it.  Still we must stand for ultimate truth.

As a final note, compare Balaam’s prophecy of Numbers 23:19 in the two translations I am comparing this year.  The NIV2011, trying to use gender inclusive language wherever possible, changed “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.  Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and not fulfill? “ (NIV1984) to “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. …”  The first is much more concise and powerful, while the second, in my mind, comes across as awkward.  The ESV, which uses gender inclusive language only when necessary, translates, “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.  Has he said, and will he not do it?  Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”  The ESV gets my vote again today.

Selah! (ESV vs NIV Volume 3)

January 27, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, English Bible Translations | 3 Comments

When I studied Psalms in graduate school, my professor was Robert Alden, who had been on the original NIV translation team.  He told us that we don’t know for sure the meaning of that funny word in Psalms, “selah.”  (Not funny in a comical way, but funny in the sense that it is not a recognizable English word; translators use the actual Hebrew instead.)  He said the most popular idea among scholars is that this marks a musical interlude, and that a musical interlude is a time to reflect on what was said before it.  He always used the word as a pause, and exclamation point – a reminder to go back and think about what was just read.  I have tried to use that word as such a reminder ever since.  Even if that was not the original meaning of “selah,” it is a good exercise for readers today.

Psalm 39 is a great example.  Twice the text says “Each man’s life is but a breath. Selah” (5, 11)  This is a point that should be pondered, for it will bring forth prayers like the ones in this poem.  “Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.” (4)  And it will force us to the same commitment David makes in the midst of this pondering, “Now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” (7)  Another great example is found in Psalm 49 – one of my all-time favorites.  Here we are reminded again that people are temporal; despite their wealth or fame they perish. Selah! (See verse 12-13)  But the good news is “God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself.”  Think about that! (15)  Both places where our word appears in this chapter are great points to ponder.  All of us are temporal, and our only hope is God’s redemption.

But I wonder if Dr. Alden isn’t rolling over in his grave, for the NIV2011 has left that word out of its translation. (Selah!)  The translation committee, who claim the very words of scripture are inspired by God, totally ignored this word, seventy-one times!  I’m not one to say that every word has to correspond to something in English; that would be naïve.  When the original meaning can be conveyed in fewer English words than Hebrew or Greek, then the translators have the option of using fewer words.  In such a case the words are not ignored; they are taken seriously and their meaning is considered.  However, this matter of “selah” is something entirely different.  This word is simply ignored in the text – a point that, in my mind, goes against their own stated translation theory.  Since I have tried to use “selah” as a reminder to slow down and ponder, I have already missed it terribly in my reading of various psalms this year.  I’ve started going through and writing it in by hand a few pages ahead of where I’m reading, so I will be reminded to meditate on the Word.  If my readers can’t tell from my tone, this point is a huge negative on the NIV2011, and will weigh heavily in my decision of which translation to preach out of in the future.

For my conclusions on NIV vs ESV check out my post called Grieving the NIV

Enoch Walked Faithfully with God

January 4, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, English Bible Translations | Leave a comment

My reading in Genesis yesterday struck me as interesting.  Chapter 5 is a Bible-trivia nut’s haven, with its list of men who achieved some outlandish ages.  However, the note that reverberates over the entire chapter, in spite of these men’s ages, is death.  Eight times we are reminded, as I titled a sermon once, “He Lived a Gazillion Years, and then He Died.”  However the shocker and, I believe, emphasis of the chapter is Enoch, who, instead of dying, walked with God.  Here I love what the NIV2011 did with that statement; they added the word faithfully.  “When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah.  And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters.  Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years.  Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”  (21-24 NIV2011 – Identical to the NIV1984 except for that addition)  The added word gives a good and necessary emphasis.  It reminds me of the theologian who said the Christian life must be “a long obedience in the same direction.”  Christianity is not a flash in the pan emotional experience or a short lived belief, nor is it a “that happened to me once” religion.  It is a faithful walk over many years.  As we go through 2012 may we practice that long obedience in the same direction – that faithful walk with God whatever the year may bring.

On a translation note, this is where a looser thought-for-thought translation has an advantage over a strict word-for-word.  It can bring out a richer meaning, which, in some cases may be closer to the original idea.  Or, in the very least, can spark a deeper thought in the reader.  I’ll give my vote to the NIV in this case.

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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