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Posts Tagged ‘william mounce’

5.5.  This post is dedicated to the Boston Bruins.  We don’t expect you to win the Stanley Cup, just don’t embarass our city.

5. Monergism has put up 33 lectures from Kim Riddlebarger on Amillennialism for free download.  Riddlebarger is one of the more well known defenders of the Amillennial interpretation around, so I highly recommend jumping on this.  I’m not convinced of the position (though I’ll give these lectures a listen) when it comes to Revelation 20, but have great appreciation for the overall structure of Amillennialism.  While I am beginning to think that the Millennium is the single most overrated theological debate in the church today, eschatalogy is incredibly important so download these lectures and see what you think.  (You can also check these out at Riddlebarger’s church website.)

4. Ben Witherington and Peter Leithart recently had a very interesting exchange inspired by Leithart’s recent book, Defending Constantine.  Witherington was generally appreciative, but had some fairly strong critiques in certain parts.  Here is a helpful roundup of the debate and links.  If nothing else this can demonstrate just how hard a debate can be when you have two very different approaches to Scripture.

3. Some time ago I posted a link to Craig Keener’s notes on Biblical Interpretation (which ended up being one of our most popular posts, interestingly enough).  According to his website, Keener will also be posting Bible study notes that would be incredibly helpful for teachers and Bible study leaders.  He currently has 10 studies on the Gospel of Matthew.  Check it out!

2. Rule to live by: any time someone writes a post with the word “anacoluthon” in the title, you have to link to it.

1. Gotta be honest, I really enjoyed Paul Helm’s takedown of N T Wright.  Keep in mind, I like N T Wright, a lot.  But he has this annoying habit of taking potshots at Americans, especially the American church, for reasons that are a bit confusing and, quite frankly, make him look petty.  In this case, he was asked about the recent controversies regarding hell, then proceeded to find a way to poke at Americans in what is, as Helm points out, a series of non-sequitors and incredibly unfair characterizations.  See also Trevin Wax’s measured critique.

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Lovers of obscure 80’s movies may recognize the title of this post from Real Genius; it’s a line spoken by a young Val Kilmer.  This line comes to my mind most often not when I’m thinking of random movie quotes (though I do that frequently), but when I’m reading an English translation and find it to be, well, awkward.  I find myself asking, “who talks like that?”

Truth be told, I find myself asking this question a lot when I’m reading the ESV.  Sure, it’s a fine translation, and it sticks closely to its translation philosophy, which is a fairly literal one.  But almost on every page I read something and ask, “who talks like that?”

So, I’ve been following a paper presented by Mark Strauss at last week’s Evangelical Theological Society meeting.  This paper critiques the ESV and shows how it often translates the original languages into English that hardly anyone actually uses.  The paper is being posted by Wayne Leman over at Better Bibles Blog (my proposed subtitle: Making Good Translations Even Gooder) in a series of posts, which I will link to below.  There’s also a mini-response at Koinonia by William Mounce, NT editor for the ESV, which I will also link to (he promises a full response in next year’s ETS meeting).  Strauss gives numerous examples of where the ESV can be improved, many of which I’ve noticed and many that were new to me (largely because I don’t use the ESV as my every day translation). 

For instance, I was recently reading 2 Samuel in the ESV and ran across 2 Samuel 18:25 (which is also noted in Strauss’ paper): “If he is alone, there is news in his mouth.”  So, I ask, “who talks like that?”  Seriously, I can’t even imagine saying such a thing, unless I was intentionally trying to sound like an overly wooden Bible translation (which I’ve been known to do on occasion for comic effect, see my use of “with child” in a previous post).  I don’t even see what you gain from such a translation.  It’s just odd, plain and simple.

So, here are the links for the paper.  But I want to make some preliminary comments for my readers:

1. I am a whole-hearted believer that for in-depth study of the Bible, you are better off using translations from multiple translation philosophies, simply for the fact that no translation gets it entirely right.  We even mention this in our Learning the Bible article (where we recommend the ESV under the “literal” category).  So, I’m not arguing that the ESV isn’t worth using.  I’m just saying that it’s far enough from normal English that it’s hard to use it on an every day basis when other translations are available.

2. I don’t think this is a matter of using a more formal or educated form of English.  “There is news in his mouth” is not formal English.  It does not sound educated.  For the record, I believe that we ought to teach and use proper English grammar.  That isn’t to say that mine is always perfect (in fact, I’ve noticed grammatical problems in this post, which I’ll leave as is out of sheer laziness), though I’ll point out that I’m one of about 5 people on the planet who still make a strong effort to avoid split infinitives.

3. I think Mounce brings up a good point.  Sometimes Strauss’ language is a bit inflammatory, specifically when he says that the ESV translators didn’t “consider” a possible translation.  I’m not sure how Strauss could have such knowledge, unless he was there when they were making decisions (and he wasn’t) or got a play-by-play breakdown from someone who was present (highly doubtful).  He’s better off not pretending to know what they did or did not consider and stick with what’s actually on the page in front of him.  With that said, it doesn’t negate his many valid points.

4. It’s helpful to remember that Strauss’ paper is entitled: Why the English Standard Version (ESV) should not become the Standard English Version.  It isn’t Why the ESV is an Imperfect Translation, because any translation could have been critiqued.  The question is whether or not the ESV should be the standard translation.  I’m amazed at how many people argue that very thing- that the ESV is the best translation around and should be the most widely used English translation.  The thought of a translation that causes me to say “who talks like that?” becoming the standard translation is a baffling one to me.  It’s good for what it is, but it’s hardly “standard.”

5. I learned my lesson back in seminary from Dr Roy Ciampa, who blasted me on a paper for an overly wooden translation.  In our exegesis papers, we were to provide a translation at the beginning that reflected our exegetical decisions, providing the defense of those decisions in the body of the paper.  I won’t give my actual translation (sorry, it’s embarassing), but I translated a phrase awkwardly, then said in the body of the paper, “this means _____.”  Ciampa’s comment in the margin was telling: “if it means that, then why don’t you translate it that way?”  Ouch.  Point taken.

Anyway, here are the posts, in order with the titles.  I’ll warn you, the formatting is a little weird, but you’ll figure it out.  Thanks to Wayne Leman for taking the time to put these up, to Mark Strauss for making his paper available, and to William Mounce for his response.

Mark Strauss’ Paper

Why the English Standard Version (ESV) should not become the Standard English Version

Oops Translations in the ESV (this one made me laugh out loud at points)

Idioms Missed in the ESV

ESV Lexical Errors and Problems

Exegetical Errors in the ESV

Collocational Clashes in the ESV

ESV Archaisms

Inconsistent Gender-Language in the ESV

Awkward and Unnatural Style in the ESV

Word Order Problems

Run-on Sentences and Tortured English

Mistranslated Genitives

Conclusion (at the end of this post is a link to download the entire paper in a pdf format)

William Mounce’s Response

Go here.  It’s a little ways down in the post.

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