Thinking Out Loud

October 24, 2019

Calvinists Launch ESV-Only Movement

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:43 am

Because I work mostly on the retail side of Christian publishing, twice a week I get to deal with customers directly and witness transactions first-hand. What follows is not conjecture, extrapolation from a too-finite study, or exaggeration of a few anecdotal observations.

We are witnessing — if we have not already concluded this — the birth of an ESV-only movement that is equal in its militancy to the KJV-only movement with which which we are already familiar.

The final driver to write these words came just an hour ago, when a young man who had purchased a study Bible which he greatly liked, was basically forced by his pastor to return it for an ESV.

The other translation was not acceptable.

Knowing his story and having met with him and his wife personally, I would argue this the other way around: The ESV text is not appropriate.

His pastor probably doesn’t care.

Remember, the neo-Calvinists — the Young, Restless and Reformed (YRR) — are bullies. You do it their way or you suffer the label of apostasy.

I suspect the young man will occasionally think back to ‘the one that got away,’ or in this case the Bible he loved he was told he should (could) not keep. It takes all types of Bibles to connect with all types of people. He had made an excellent choice.

The ESV serves only one useful purpose: As a badge of identification for the ‘chosen’ ones of the modern, internet-networked Calvinist movements, of which this particular church is one.

To me it’s just sad.

No, it’s worse than that, it’s pathetic.


May 23, 2019

The Bible C3P0 Read

Filed under: bible, Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:12 am

Someone mentioned this on Twitter this morning. I’d seen it at the time, but don’t know that we ever ran it here. Source unknown, but I’m willing to re-edit this if you can tell me.

 

April 29, 2017

C. S. Lewis on Bible Translating

I originally posted this excerpt in 2015, but it’s hard to believe it wasn’t penned yesterday. I don’t know the original date it was written, but it first appeared in the collection titled God in the Dock, and we found this excerpt in another anthology tiled The Joyful Christian. Since Lewis died in 1963, we know the material is, at minimum, around 60 years old. I’ve changed the paragraphing and (horrors!) Americanized some spelling. Revisiting it today, I was struck especially by the second-last paragraph which reminded me of the ESV “permanent translation” discussions of 2016.

It is possible that the reader … may ask himself why we need a new translation of any part of the Bible… “Do we not already possess,” it may be said, “in the Authorized Version the most beautiful rendering which any language can boast?” Some people whom I have met go even further and feel that a modern translation is not only unnecessary but even offensive. They cannot bear to see the time-honored words altered; it seems to them irreverent.

C. S. LewisIn the first place the kind of objection which they feel to a new translation is very like the objection which was once felt to any English translation at all. Dozens of sincerely pious people in the sixteenth century shuddered at the idea of turning the time-honored Latin of the Vulgate into our common and (as they thought) ‘barbarous’ English. A sacred truth seemed to them to have lost its sanctity when it was stripped of the polysyllabic Latin, long heard at Mass and at Hours, and put into ‘language such as men do use’—language steeped in all the commonplace associations of the nursery, the inn, the stable, and the street.

The answer then was the same as the answer now. The only kind of sanctity which Scripture can lose (or, at least, New Testament scripture) by being modernized is an accidental kind which it never had for its writers or its earliest readers. The New Testament in the original Greek is not a work of literary art: it is not written in a solemn, ecclesiastical language, it is written in the sort of Greek which was spoken over the Eastern Mediterranean after Greek had become an international language and therefore lost its real beauty and subtlety.

In it we see Greek used by people who have no real feeling for Greek words because Greek words are not the words they spoke when they were children. It is a sort of “basic” Greek; a language without roots in the soil, a utilitarian, commercial and administrative language. Does this shock us? It ought not to, except as the Incarnation itself ought to shock us. The same divine humility which decreed that God should become a baby at a peasant woman’s breast, and later an arrested field preacher in the hands of the Roman police, decreed also that He should be preached in a vulgar, prosaic and unliterary language. If you can stomach the one, you can stomach the other. The Incarnation is in that sense an irreverent doctrine….

When we expect that [the Bible] should have come before the World in all the beauty that we now feel in the Authorized Version we are as wide of the mark as the Jews were in expecting that the Messiah would come as a great earthly King.

The real sanctity, the real beauty and sublimity of the new Testament (as of Christ’s life) are of a different sort: miles deeper and further in.

In the second place, the Authorized Version has ceased to be a good (that is, a clear) translation. It is no longer modern English: the meanings of words have changed. The same antique glamor which has made it (in the superficial sense) so ‘beautiful’, so ‘sacred’, so ‘comforting’, and so ‘inspiring’, has also made it in many places unintelligible…

[He then gives some examples.]

…The truth is that if we are to have translation at all we must have periodical re-translation. There is no such thing as translating a book into another language once and for all, for a language is a changing thing. If your son is to have clothes it is no good buying him a suit once and for all: he will grow out of it and have to be re-clothed.

And finally – though it may seem a sour paradox – we must sometimes get away from the Authorized Version if for no other reason, simply because it is so beautiful and so solemn. Beauty exalts, but beauty also lulls. Early associations endear but they also confuse. Through that beautiful solemnity the transporting or horrifying realities of which the Book tells may come to us blunted and disarmed and we may only sigh with tranquil veneration when we ought to be burning with shame, or struck dumb with terror, or carried out of ourselves by ravishing hopes and adorations.

February 5, 2016

“Treat Your Bible With Respect” vs. the Bible Journaling Trend

I’m not saying I don’t like this. Quite the opposite. I think it would cause me to be spending more time focusing on (i.e. meditating on) the words on the page. I’m just saying I think a lot of grandmothers are rolling over in their graves right now and a few retired Sunday School teachers are freaking out.

Bible Journaling 1

Bible Journaling 2

Bible Journaling 3

Bible Journaling 4

What do you think? There was another image I wanted to include here but there was a weird technical glitch each time I tried, and I couldn’t get the # of pixels to reduce using my usual tricks. For the record, available texts at the moment seem to be NIV and ESV. Many of the images I found on line were Mommy Bloggers who would fit the stereotypical Calvinist and ESV mindset. [Warning: Don’t take the bait on that last sentence… just quietly walk away.]

This is an interesting trend to be sure. It definitely is a women’s thing, though I’m sure some guys are doing it as well. The last picture above looks like the person had some graphic art training. And I’m sure there will be critics who hate anything new. [Internet trolls: This is your moment!] I just wonder what it says about our Bibles and how we interact with them. Ideas?

April 25, 2015

C. S. Lewis on Modern Bible Translations

It’s hard to believe this wasn’t penned yesterday. I don’t know the original date it was written, but it first appeared in the collection titled God in the Dock, and we found this excerpt in another anthology tiled The Joyful Christian. Since Lewis died in 1963, we know the material is, at minimum, around 60 years old. I’ve changed the paragraphing and (horrors!) Americanized some spelling.

It is possible that the reader … may ask himself why we need a new translation of any part of the Bible… “Do we not already possess,” it may be said, “in the Authorized Version the most beautiful rendering which any language can boast?” Some people whom I have met go even further and feel that a modern translation is not only unnecessary but even offensive. They cannot bear to see the time-honored words altered; it seems to them irreverent.

C. S. LewisIn the first place the kind of objection which they feel to a new translation is very like the objection which was once felt to any English translation at all. Dozens of sincerely pious people in the sixteenth century shuddered at the idea of turning the time-honored Latin of the Vulgate into our common and (as they thought) ‘barbarous’ English. A sacred truth seemed to them to have lost its sanctity when it was stripped of the polysyllabic Latin, long heard at Mass and at Hours, and put into ‘language such as men do use’—language steeped in all the commonplace associations of the nursery, the inn, the stable, and the street.

The answer then was the same as the answer now. The only kind of sanctity which Scripture can lose (or, at least, New Testament scripture) by being modernized is an accidental kind which it never had for its writers or its earliest readers. The New Testament in the original Greek is not a work of literary art: it is not written in a solemn, ecclesiastical language, it is written in the sort of Greek which was spoken over the Eastern Mediterranean after Greek had become an international language and therefore lost its real beauty and subtlety.

In it we see Greek used by people who have no real feeling for Greek words because Greek words are not the words they spoke when they were children. It is a sort of “basic” Greek; a language without roots in the soil, a utilitarian, commercial and administrative language. Does this shock us? It ought not to, except as the Incarnation itself ought to shock us. The same divine humility which decreed that God should become a baby at a peasant woman’s breast, and later an arrested field preacher in the hands of the Roman police, decreed also that He should be preached in a vulgar, prosaic and unliterary language. If you can stomach the one, you can stomach the other. The Incarnation is in that sense an irreverent doctrine….

When we expect that [the Bible] should have come before the World in all the beauty that we now feel in the Authorized Version we are as wide of the mark as the Jews were in expecting that the Messiah would come as a great earthly King.

The real sanctity, the real beauty and sublimity of the new Testament (as of Christ’s life) are of a different sort: miles deeper and further in.

In the second place, the Authorized Version has ceased to be a good (that is, a clear) translation. It is no longer modern English: the meanings of words have changed. The same antique glamor which has made it (in the superficial sense) so ‘beautiful’, so ‘sacred’, so ‘comforting’, and so ‘inspiring’, has also made it in many places unintelligible…

[He then gives some examples.]

…The truth is that if we are to have translation at all we must have periodical re-translation. There is no such thing as translating a book into another language once and for all, for a language is a changing thing. If your son is to have clothes it is no good buying him a suit once and for all: he will grow out of it and have to be re-clothed.

And finally – though it may seem a sour paradox – we must sometimes get away from the Authorized Version if for no other reason, simply because it is so beautiful and so solemn. Beauty exalts, but beauty also lulls. Early associations endear but they also confuse. Through that beautiful solemnity the transporting or horrifying realities of which the Book tells may come to us blunted and disarmed and we may only sigh with tranquil veneration when we ought to be burning with shame, or struck dumb with terror, or carried out of ourselves by ravishing hopes and adorations.

April 20, 2013

New Calvinists Must Support the Brand at all Costs

There are many different nuances of meaning to the term propaganda, but one has to do with “what a group or organizations says about itself.”  While self-promotion is not a crime, there are times when there is simply no need for it, and one of those is in the area of Bible translation.  By all means do all marketing necessary to introduce your version. This is a subject that will deeply affect a high percentage of Christ-followers, so tell your story.

I love the book How to Choose a Bible Translation for all Its Worth by Mark Strauss and Gordon Fee. Yes, it’s published by Zondervan, but it is full of raw transparency as the translators wrestle over difficult decisions in making the original text understood by English speakers today. Recently I reviewed The Story of The Voice, a translation so remarkably different that the backstory is a delight to read, especially to see how much this new generation of translators revered, of all translations, the KJV.

Why Our Church Switched to the ESVBut you have to be careful if you are both publisher and beneficiary, and if your translation has already been in the market for many years, one also might question why a propagandist title like Why Our Church Switched to the ESV by Kevin DeYoung needs to be written at all.  But to question that is to not appreciate the need the New Reformers have to be seen defending the brand at all costs, and the ESV is definitely the default Bible translation brand for the New Reformed. 

I wrote about their brand loyalty here several months ago; and for the lesser lights in the movement, spiritual brownie points are earned by constantly re-blogging and re-Tweeting the writing of those more recognizable; many of whom themselves are constantly copy-and-pasting the writings of those higher up the Reformed hierarchy.

In reviewing DeYoung’s answer to the ‘Why” question, Derek Ouellette finds some inconsistencies in deYoung’s translation standards.  DeYoung also points out that his church switched to ESV from the NIV, and limits the book to a comparison of the two, at the expense of all other possible options. So by design, a book like this is going to have an anti-NIV orientation. Ouellette notes,

Anybody moderately versed in the Bible can hold two translations up and compare selected verses to show why one is better than another. The average reader will not have a counter-comparision book on hand which is why she or he should read a book like this with caution.

Choosing a BibleMy comment would simply be that this is not the first time around for Crossway to publish a book of this nature.  Leland Ryken’s 2005 book Choosing a Bible — same publisher, same price, same 32 pages — was similarly biased.  The publisher blurb states:

Leland Ryken introduces readers to the central issues in this debate and presents several reasons why essentially literal–word-for-word– translations are superior to dynamic equivalent– thought-for-thought–translation. You don’t have to be a Bible scholar to recognize the need for a quality Bible translation.

Yes, and you don’t need to be a theologian to know propaganda when you see it, do you? The “dynamic equivalent” translation in view here is, nine times out of ten, going to be the NIV.

I realize that Why Our Church Switched… isn’t exactly a new release, but Derek Ouellette’s look at it reminded me that people need to be discerning about what motivates people to publish this and other similar things.  A good Bible translation will rise and fall on its own merits, and doesn’t need an apologetic serveral years down the road.

A verse that comes to mind here is Proverbs 27:2, and just to show there’s no hard feelings, I’ll quote it in the ESV:

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
    a stranger, and not your own lips.

November 9, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Something seriously messed up in our lynx picture file this week

Introductory paragraph so the links don’t just start cold…

  • Apparently some Christian bookstores are hesitant to stock a title like, When Will My Life Not Suck. Even the intro by Gary Chapman can’t convince them.  
  • Harold Camping is officially out of the end-of-the-world prediction business and will now focus on baseball predictions and NBA final four (assuming they get back to playing).
  • Sunday (Nov 13) is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Here are some verses from the Common English Bible that would fit your Sunday worship planning.
  • Ever wondered what it would be like to be part of a Bible translation committee?  Here’s a 4-minute video.  Wait a minute… they film these things?
  • Christian Week talks to street pastor and Close Enough To Hear God Breathe author Greg Paul.
  • Belated birthday wishes to Billy Graham who turned 93 on Monday and recently reflected at Huffington Post on Nearing Home which is both the title of his new book and the stage in life he considers himself to be in.
  • New research by the Barna Group finds young Christians leave churches they view as judgmental, overprotective, exclusive and unfriendly toward doubters.
  • Have you ever cheated death?  Check out an excellent essay by Tony Woodlief in which he has a meaningful talk with one of his kids.
  • There are Christian groups at secular colleges and universities, so it was just a matter of time before Atheist groups turned up at Christian colleges. But then why would you go there?
  • Last week, White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney made kind of a gutsy move from the podium.  He quoted a verse from the Bible. “God helps those who help themselves.”   If that really was a Bible verse, Matt at The Church of No People speculates on the exegesis.
  • KSZ posts the strangest piece of neo-classical music, or should that be meow-classical?  And how did the kids keep a straight face?
  • And then there’s Kevin Olusola, the guy who’s had 1,000,000 YouTube hits for his beat-box, hip-hop, cello playing video.  According to Brad, he’s also currently touring with Gungor.
  • Kids out at a downtown Halloween party in Loganville, GA received plastic dolls of a 12-week old fetus.
  • Blue Like Jazz – The Movie opens in theaters on April 13th.  I know that for sure because Matt and Ellen told me.
  • Vic the Vicar posts a warning for those who don’t follow e-mail instructions; I link to it partly because I accidentally trashed Vic’s Versatile Blogger nomination.  Sorry, Vic.
  • If you’re anywhere near Toronto, Canada on December 3rd, you won’t want to miss Steve Bell in concert with The Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
  • Sacred Sandwich: The Early Years —

May 1, 2010

Pyromaniacs: Don’t Tease Your Readers and Call It Serious Discussion

I’m not sure what to make of Thursday’s post by Dan Phillips at Team Pyro.   On the surface of it, it looks like a major concession for a conservative reformer to make:  “Women Must Preach in Church.”  (The use of must is probably the giveaway.)

But the (entire) text of the post says, “…on one occasion.”   And guess what, gang?  Despite the timing, he ain’t talkin’ Mother’s Day.

The text is also a link which takes you to:

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.  ~ I Cor 11: 26 ESV

(Well c’mon… if you know anything about that blog, you know it’s gonna be ESV)

So immediately, readers take the bait.

So then, after a bit of discussion about the role of women in the church, he reins it in:

OK, an ANNOUNCEMENT. I’d like to take this back to the topic of the post: the proclamation that is the Lord’s Supper.

I’m going to be pretty firm on this. My one regret about the last meta was not enforcing my call, after the first comment, to get back to the topic. So let’s stick with the topic.

So finally on topic, there’s some good discussion about this that you can read for yourself.  For those who don’t it’s basically about whether or not what some of us call “communion” is an act of worship or an act of proclamation or testimony.   And if it’s what others call “the Lord’s Supper” is a form of proclamation, who are we proclaiming it to?  (Especially when in some quarters this is often a separate, closed service only attended by believers in the first place.)

The problem here is that Pyromaniacs is widely read, and like I wrote a few days ago on the subject of prayer, every church’s — and every individual’s — understanding and expression of what yet others call “the Eucharist” is quite different.

So it’s a fair discussion on a worthwhile topic, and being good reformers, a few of the 160+ comments toss in the phrase, “the heart of the Gospel” just for good measure.

But I still say you shouldn’t bait your readers with what appears to be topic “A” when you really want to discuss topic “B.”

And don’t bring up topic “A” at all if you feel it just opens up a can of worms.   Because I think this time around, your readers thought topic “A” was equally worthy of discussion.

May 28, 2009

The King James Only Controversy: Still Going, 15 Years Later

Filed under: bible, Christian, issues — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 1:34 pm

king james only controverseyIt’s a rather pathetic indictment against Christians that the arguing of the ‘secondary anointing’ on or ‘divine inspiration’ of one particular translation — and one only — continues to drag on.   When James White first released The King James Only Controversy (Bethany House) in 1995, he probably expected the debate to die down; the KJV-Only camp to mellow out, move on to weightier spiritual matters, or disappear altogether.    He probably never figured there would be a need for him to be releasing an updated edition in 2009.

My take on this book probably differs from others in that I see the book as having value beyond the stated subject.   It’s a great window in the Bible translation process and it’s also an excellent study on key scriptures, many of which are widely known and taught from as they appear in the KJV.    So you don’t have to have a friend or co-worker who is KJV-Only to appreciate exhaustive study that went into producing the original work and its updated edition.

(I should add here that I’m a huge follower of Bible translation issues.   Counting two complete reads of the original, this marked my third trek through this book.)

But the book also exceeds its mandate by leaving us with the questions,

  • “Why do some people in the church spend such great amounts of energy on topics which always produce dissension and are often preoccupied with peripheral concerns?”
  • “Why do some people bring their presuppositions to the table instead of being open to the exchange of logic and facts?”
  • “Why do people with extreme views have to compound their offensiveness by engaging in extreme rhetoric?”
  • “What damage has been done to Bible-reading by incorporating verse numbers that isolate sentences and phrases, losing the flow of extended passages?”

Although the average layperson may be intimidated by Greek and Hebrew words, most of the book can be appreciated without formal theological study; though there may be times when one needs to simply pause to take in the finer nuances of the various translation comparisons.   White himself is very balanced and fair in this treatment, admitting that sometimes the KJV serves us well, but pointing out where more recent translations have provided us with greater clarity.    He resists the urge to retaliate against the KJV, though later on devotes a shorter chapter to some familiar KJV passages which are cause for concern.

Though I don’t think he says it blatantly, much of the KJV-Only argument resides in the treatment of individual versus as opposed to gaining the meaning from the context of a larger passage.   The verse numbers, in this case, do us a disservice.

The new edition mentions newer translations — particularly the ESV —  and the update also cites many online sources in the expanded footnotes.  It also discusses the challenges to the Bible’s authority that have come from the intellectualism of groups like The Jesus Seminar or the fiction of books and movies like The DaVinci Code.

While the book is clearly not for everyone, those drawn to this topic will be well-rewarded, though many may have already acquired the earlier edition.

~ Part of Baker/Bethany House bloggers book review program.

Footnote:  Another publisher had a small booklet on the King James Only movement which came out in the mid-’90s as well.   It was published as part of a series, all the rest of which deal with various cults.    Seriously.

…If you check out this book, you may also enjoy How To Choose A Bible Translation For All It’s Worth by Gordon Fee and Mark Strauss.

December 9, 2008

“The Law is Good if One Uses it Lawfully”

Filed under: bible, Christianity, Faith, theology — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:21 pm

William D. [Bill] MounceBill Mounce — in what is apparently # 16 in a continuing series — talks about the various puns in the Bible and how translators deal with them.   Don’t expect to be laughing out loud here, this is a serious article.   But if you’re interested in the issue of Bible translation* then this article on the “Zondervan Friends” blog Koinonia may cause you to flip back and read the whole series.

And what a good series it is.   If this kind of reading is new to you, your capacity for understanding will grow as you read more.   Select the tag for “Mondays with Mounce;” and skim the subjects in the 16 articles currently posted.   Read carefully.  Take deep breaths.   I guarantee you’ll end up clicking to finish a few of the articles.   You’ll find yourself viewing familiar New Testament passages in ways you haven’t before.   And if you’re into the whole translation* subject, you’ll find this series a good consideration of two of the newer ones, the ESV and the TNIV.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

*Oh no!  Bible translation!   Time to turn the comments off on this post.   Sorry, guys.   There’s a few people who are stuck on a particular trans who tend to ruin it for everyone else.   I won’t say which one, but it rhymes with “sing dames.”

Older Posts »

Blog at WordPress.com.