Well, it’s now more than a week after the last Hoagies & Stogies on Translation. As usual it was a great time, and many men told me how much they enjoyed it. And it was especially great for me to get to know two new first-time H&S speakers in Mark Strauss and Ed Hale, two guys who lived up to the Hoagies & Stogies standard for vigorously and charitably defending their theological convictions.
So I wanted to put down some of my thoughts, see where they go.
First off, let me say that before (and after) the debate, I am a big fan of the ESV (ever since I switched from the REB). However, as I discovered from this experience, if you look close, the ESV can be very awkward in places (you try to memorize the ESV’s rendition of Acts 3:16!)
However, I still believe the ESV is a great translation (better than the NIV anyways). And that’s because I subscribe to the essentially literal translation philosophy (and wasn’t convinced out of it at H&S). I think also that the audience, in the end, was not convinced by Strauss. All of the difficult questions submitted for Q&A were critical of Strauss’ position.
I think Strauss’ arguments need to be attacked at a lower level. His argument rests on the assumption (and a stated assumption) that the Bible should be translated according to the same philosophy as any other works. But it seems to me a pretty easy case to make that God’s Words are a in a separate class, and dictate a unique translation philosophy.
The issue of the Septuagint, and New Testament citation of the Old Testament came up in the Q&A. Strauss admitted that the Greek (NT and/or Septuagint) handling of the OT Hebrew evidences a translation philosophy which is, more often literal than not. But then Strauss laughed it off as because “back then they didn’t know any better.” It seems to me that this avenue could be Strauss’ achilles heel, because it’s pretty ballsy to second-guess inspired writers.
Some questions I wish I had thought to submit to the Q&A:
- Is there some intrinsic characteristic of Reformed-ness that makes us gravitate towards the ESV in particular, and the literal translation philosophy in general?
- Does the literal philosophy, with its focus on the words of God in the original languages, boil down to the same stance as Islam’s position that the Koran is no longer the Koran when it’s translated away from Arabic?
- Does/should every Christian have to learn some Greek and Hebrew?
But it’s probably better I didn’t squeeze those questions in, because we might have all frozen solid!
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