Saturday, July 21, 2007

Changes in the ESV

In 2007, Crossway started publishing a slightly modified version of the English Standard Version (ESV). This does not seem to be a much publicized event as I have not been able to find anything official from Crossway (not that I have looked that hard). Nevertheless an update has occurred. If you have Bibleworks, the changes have already been incorporated into the software through their regular update process.

So, what are these changes? There is no official list but Rick Mansfield, on his blog, This Lamp, has listed all the modifications in seven separate blog entries, each corresponding to a different section of Scripture:

Genesis - Deuteronomy
Joshua - Esther
Job - Song of Solomon
Isaiah - Malachi
Matthew - Acts
Romans - Philemon
Hebrews - Revelation

Most of these changes are very trivial but some are both interesting and significant. One of the more interesting changes occurs at Micah 5:2. In this famous messianic passage, the ESV had followed the RSV with, “…from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.” While it is possible to construct an orthodox interpretation of this wording, I was disappointed that the ESV translation committee did not change the wording found in the RSV, especially since this verse was highlighted in the 1953 BibSac article that originally criticized the RSV’s liberal bias.

The new version of the ESV reads, “…from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” This translation choice is more literal (cf., 2 Kings 10:27 for the only other usage) and preserves a deliberate play on words based on the idea of “bringing forth” (as seen in the KJV below):

"yet out of thee shall he come forth) (5:2)
"whose goings forth have been from of old" (5:2)
"until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth" (5:3)

It’s still not perfect, though, because I believe the Hebrew indicates that the “comings” or “goings” are plural (referring to His repeated Theophanies that have occurred since ancient days), rather than singular as it now stands in the ESV. The singular forces an interpretation along the lines of the Messiah’s earthly descent from the family of David, much like, or exactly like, the use of “origin” did in the original wording. My guess is that they changed "origin” because it was too offensive (indicating to some a non-eternal origin of Christ) but in a way that preserved the orthodox interpretation that they preferred.

I still beleive that the best of rending of the underlying Hebrew word is "goings forth" as translated by the KJV, NKJV, and the NASB.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Cradle of Christianity

This past week I visited an exhibit called The Cradle of Christianity on display until October 16, 2007 at the Michael C. Carlos Museum on the campus of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. The exhibit is not huge, in my estimation, but there are several interesting artifacts in the collection organized by the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

First there are the three ossuaries baring the names of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. Yes, those ossuaries. To their credit, however, both the Museum and the audio provided by Emory professors make very clear that these ossuaries did not belong to the Mary, Joseph, and Jesus of the Bible. Those names were very common in that region and in that time period and there is no evidence to suggest that these boxes ever contained the bones of those individuals. There is a fourth ossuary on display, however, that does have Biblical significance and that is an ossuary with the name Caiaphas inscribed on it. The exhibit does claim that this ossuary held the bones of the Caiaphas of Biblical fame.

Other items of interest include water vessels similar to what Jesus would have had the servants fill with water when He turned the water into wine, tableware from that time period such as what might have been used at the Last Supper, a stone slab with Pontius Pilate's name inscribed on it, a portion of a temple block with wording that prohibited entry by Gentiles, a stone baptismal font for full immersion baptism, a jar that held the dead sea scrolls, and a segment of the Dead Sea Scrolls themselves. Unfortunately, this last item contained writing concerning the building of the temple, rather than a portion of the Old Testament. Nevertheless, it was amazing to see how clear and sharp the Hebrew writing was even after so many years.

The exhibit was very well done and I thought rather respectful to those who believe the Bible to be true. I suppose it would not be in their self-interest to downplay the significance of these items but nevertheless I appreciated the many references to the Bible and the overall tone of the presentation. The $16 dollar price might be a bit steep for what seemed to me to be a rather limited exhibition, though.

Related links:

Article in the Emory Report

Information about the exhibit by the Carlos Museum

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