So, I have been dabbling a bit into my new ESV with Apocrypha (Deuterocanonicals) for the past few days. Overall, I have liked what I have read so far. It is definitely an improvement over the old RSV, particularly in its elimination of archaic English and its modest use of inclusive language.
While I am not a Bible translation scholar, nor do I pretend to be one on the Internet, I thought I might share some of my thoughts about the ESV translation, particularly in comparison to the NRSV.
I have jotted down some of my thoughts over the past few days, so this will not be a systematic analysis of the ESV, but simply some of my initial, random thoughts coming from my Catholic perspective.
**While I think the ESV is more readable than the RSV, I still find the NRSV to have better literary qualities. I have been reading through the prophets lately, mostly due to class assignments, and the NRSV just seems to read better. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that the NRSV is not as "literal" as the ESV. I am also not beholden to the KJV style, which the NRSV begins to break away from. I must say, however, that there is an exception, which is that I much prefer the ESV's use of "woe" to the NRSV's "Ah" or "alas" particularly in Isaiah 5.
**Some of the interesting word choices in the two translations stand out to me. Here is a small list:
ESV vs. NRSV
1) Overseers vs. Bishops (I Tim/Titus)
2) Propitiation vs. sacrifice of atonement (Rm 3:25)
3) Hell vs. Hades (Matt 16:18)
4) Born again vs. Born from Above (Jn 3:3)
5) Brothers vs. Brothers and Sisters
6) Son of Man vs. O Mortal/Human Beings (OT/Heb 2)
7) "a" vs. "the" (1 Tm 3:15)
8) grasped vs. exploited (Phi. 2:6)
9) made himself nothing vs. emptied himself (Phi. 2:7)
10) Virgin vs. young woman (Is. 7:14)
11) Behold vs. Look or See
12) husband of one wife vs. married once (Titus 1:6)
It is interesting to not that in cases #2,3,4 the ESV agrees with the old Douay-Rheims. I also prefer the ESV in #'s 6, 10, 11, 12. However, there are some places, principly #'s 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9 that I prefer the NRSV translation.
** I am still not sure if I like using a translation that didn't have at least one Catholic scholar on the translation team. Is that wrong of me to think that way? While I am not always 100% in agreement with the NRSV's translation philosophy, I do feel somewhat better about the fact that there were Catholic scholars on the translation team.
**While I am glad that there is an ESV w/ Apocrypha (Deuterocanonicals), it does bug me that the main reason it is relegated to the back of the book is to affirm those books "uncanonicity". I appreciate the honesty of Dr. deSilva when he said on this blog: "Perhaps Luther's solution of separating them out and placing them in between the testaments (a location that makes far better sense historically) was not a sufficient statement regarding their (non-) canonicity." So there you have it. I am glad that the folks at Cambridge, who produced my beautiful NRSV w/ Apocrypha, refers to those books as "The Apocryphal or Deuterocanonical Books of the Old Testament".
More thoughts to come over the next few weeks.