Arguments Against the ESV Considered

Discussion in 'Translations and Manuscripts' started by blhowes, Aug 9, 2009.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. blhowes

    blhowes Puritan Board Professor

    One of the last threads I started was about which Bible version I should switch to from the KJV if I decided to switch. I got a lot of good advice. One of the versions that some recommended was the ESV. Not everybody prefers the ESV, I also got a helpful PM from somebody that referred me to an article about the ESV to consider before switching.

    I read the article about the ESV and it became the starting point for me to do further study. The article was reminiscent of some books I’d read in the early 80’s, a few years after getting saved, which convinced me to switch from using the NASB to the KJV. Similar arguments were made in those books in support of the KJV over any modern version. At the time, I didn’t ask why or look into it any further. I accepted it at face value and just believed it to be true. I put my NASB on the shelf, bought a KJV, and have been using the KJV ever since. No complaints (about the KJV), but I do wish I’d been a little more critical at the time when all versions but the KJV were portrayed in such a negative light.

    Sorry for the lengthy post, but I just thought I’d share my findings.

    Here’s an exerpt from the article about the ESV that was my starting point for further study:
    The article listed the following verses as examples: Matt 5:13, Matt 19:23-24, Rom 3:4, Rom 3:28, Rom 5:7, Rom 10:10, and I Cor 2:11.

    The article listed the following verses as examples: I Cor 2:13-14, I Cor 4:3, Acts 17:25, Rom 2;9, Rom 3:5, Rom 6:19, I Cor 2:13, I Cor 3:3, I Cor 9:8, Gal 3:15, Eph 4:14, Phil 2:8, Col 2:8, Jam 3:8, I Pet 2:13, and I Peter 4:2

    I don’t know Greek, so I can only go so far “examining the evidence” presented. After digging a little deeper into the verses mentioned, and asking myself the question “Is there a valid reason why there are these differences?”, I came to a different conclusion than the author. I concluded that in the examples cited, “man” was not changed to “human” because the word “man” was archaic, or because of some homosexual, new-age “gender neutral” agenda, or for any evolutionist-related reasons. I think there were good reasons for translating the words the way they did in the ESV. It all boils down to whether or not you want to make a distinction between a man and a woman. In the verses sited, I don’t think the intent was to make a distinction between a man and a woman.

    As an example of what I’m talking about, here’s Romans 3:28, which is one of the verses sited:

    Romans 3:28
    (KJV) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
    (ESV) For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

    The intent is not to make a distinction between a man and a woman. If that were the case, then when you read this - “…a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law…” a valid question would then be, “Ok, that’s how a man is justified. How is a woman justified?”.

    Those who know Greek please correct me if I’m wrong, but the Greek seemed to support my theory. Here’s what I found when I looked at the first verse listed in the article.

    Matthew 5:13
    (KJV) Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

    (ESV) "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.

    The Greek word used in this verse for men/people’s is:

    G444 άνθρωπος (anthropos) From G435 and ὤψ ōps (the countenance; from G3700); manfaced, that is, a human being: - certain, man.
    G444 comes partly from G435:
    G435 ἀνήρ (anēr) A primary word (compare G444); a man (properly as an individual male): - fellow, husband, man, sir.​
    The first Greek word (G444) is used when no distinction is being made. The second Greek word (G435) is used to distinguish between a man and a woman.

    When I looked at the examples listed in the article, 15 out of the 22 examples used the Greek word (G444) which does not seek to make a distinction between a man and a woman.

    The remaining 7 verses used different Greek words, but again these verses didn’t seem to be making a distinction between a man and a woman.

    G442 ἀνθρώπινος (anthrōpinos) From G444; human: - human, common to man, man[-kind], [man-]kind, men’s, after the manner of men. (used in 4 of the verses)

    G4145 πλούσιος (plousios) From G4149; wealthy; figuratively abounding with: - rich. (used in 1 of the verses)

    G1342 δίκαιος (dikaios) From G1349; equitable (in character or act); by implication innocent, holy (absolutely or relatively): - just, meet, right (-eous). (used in 1 of the verses)​

    In one of the verses (Romans 10:10) I wasn’t sure from which of the Greek words the word ‘man’ comes from, but nevertheless it wasn’t clear that a distinction was being made between a man and a woman.. Here’s the KJV+, maybe somebody could figure it out for me:

    (KJV+) ForG1063 with the heartG2588 man believethG4100 untoG1519 righteousness;G1343 andG1161 with the mouthG4750 confession is madeG3670 untoG1519 salvation.G4991

    Here’s how the ESV translates it:
    (ESV) For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
    In all of the verses sited, it appears that there’s a valid reason to translate the Greek the way the ESV translators did. Coming to this conclusion doesn’t sway me one way or the other regarding Bible versions, but it does remind me that it takes a little work to separate fact from fiction (In my humble opinion).
  2. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    I have found the translation of the Greek NT to be disappointing in the ESV and have argued so here: - Reformed Baptist Church

    If you would like a copy of the manuscript just PM me. It is color coded, matching Greek words with English words for the sake of those who are unable to read the Greek.

    The NAS is a better Greek to English translation. For that matter so is the NKJ.
  3. Hungus

    Hungus Puritan Board Freshman


    If you do not know greek, start of with some texts on historiography like "The Journey from Text to Translation" by Wegner. Both sides of the argument will try and raise emotional issues like "King James was a homosexual" or "Wescott and Hort were Satanists".

    I tried to start a thread specifically on Historiography but no one seemed interested (0 replies).

    and with that I am out of this thread. Have fun folks and try not to get this one locked.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2009
  4. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Yes, Bob, way to be careful. The arguments that you are quoting from other sources are all balderdash, because they ignore both hermeneutics, as well as creating quite a few fallacies of the beard. Gail Riplinger is probably the most guilty of this when she says that the modern versions have undercut the doctrine of God, because instead of having 9,000 references to God, the modern versions only have 5,000 references. I don't know about you, but if I saw 5,000 references to God, I would be tempted to say that the text is saying that God actually exists.

    The ESV is not closed about its policies on translating generic "man" as "human." This is now standard English. Personally, I still prefer generic "he," and the ESV does still use it in places. At any rate, the charge of pandering to homosexuality is completely, absolutely, utterly absurd, and libelous.
  5. blhowes

    blhowes Puritan Board Professor

    Thanks. I just finished listening to it - :up:

    Yes, I'd like a copy and just PM'ed you.

    -----Added 8/9/2009 at 05:15:03 EST-----

    I obviously have a ways to go - I've never even heard the word "historiography", let alone know what it means.

    -----Added 8/9/2009 at 05:21:54 EST-----

    Personally, I think those who use such tactics do a disservice to "their side" of the debate. When used, my initial tendancy is to dismiss the rest of the arguments they might use to support their side.
  6. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    I'll disagree with that. It would, however, be safe to say that it is now politically correct English.
  7. reformedminister

    reformedminister Puritan Board Sophomore

    Stick with the KJV or NKJV.
  8. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    And it's fast becoming standard English. I have been marked down for "sexist" language at a Christian college on papers (and, if I remember right, the professor in that instance was largely conservative).

    Personally, I think the charge of pandering to homosexuals is ludicrous. J. I. Packer was in charge of the translation, for crying out loud.
  9. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Well, I'm still preaching from the NASB. But that's mainly because I'm too cheap to purchase an ESV preaching (read: GIANT print) Bible. :lol:
  10. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Perhaps he is an economic conservative. Or, to be charitable, perhaps he was trying to prepare you for a career with a Fortune 500 company or in the government.

    I didn't make that charge, and I hope you aren't suggesting that I did.

    Oh, you mean one of the guys that signed onto ECT?

    Evangelicals and Catholics Together
  11. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Actually, I was thinking social conservative. And no, I was not in any way suggesting that you were making that charge.

    J. I. Packer is as fallible as any other biblical theologian and I don't see how his signature on the ECT (he is Anglican, after all) has anything to do with his credibility as a translator who seeks to translate faithfully.
  12. nicnap

    nicnap Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Bob, aside from the textual issues, I would go with the NKJV...but counting the textual issues, I prefer its textual basis, and respect it because it lists the textual variants in the margins, and that is most helpful for any sort of study.
  13. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    I really like the fact the NKJV does recognize the textual variants. It would be nice if the CT versions returned the favor.
  14. nicnap

    nicnap Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I agree.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page