For Piper is way, way, way, way off

I am a novice at bible translation, but even I know that a ‘literal translation’ is not exactly literal. I wonder if the ESV uses all the ‘O’s’ in the text? Or the ‘the’s’ as in ‘the God, the Christ’ when it is rarely translated in our English bibles.

Let me clear this  up – I have little to no problem with John Piper or the ESV (not my preferred translation), just the method of discourse that he is using (as late as 16 August 2009) in promoting the ESV.

And from this post:

If “essentially literal” means anything it means keeping as much as possible the structure and wording of the original. Which leads me to ask the question why not an interlinear. Contrast a verse pair I choose to have as few complexities as possible:

And came out the Pharisees and they began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven, trying him. And having sighed deeply in the spirit of him he says, why does seek this generation a sign? Truly I say to you, in no way will be given to this generation a sign. (Mark 8:11-12 Brown and Comfort).

11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” (Mark 8:11-12 ESV)

And, from here:

  • Hebrew/Greek: 612,483
  • NIV: 726,133
  • TNIV: 728,393
  • NLT: 741,276
  • ESV: 757,439
  • NASB: 782,815

Oh my, I wonder what Piper will do with that?


Joel L. Watts
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

18 thoughts on “For Piper is way, way, way, way off

  1. Earlier this week,  I posted about how translations deal with nearly parallel text.  I just added the ESV to my comparison.  Unfortunately, as with other translations, the ESV has identical English where the Greek is different.  (The impetus for the comparison was John Hobbins’ excellent analysis of the importance of minor differences in the texts.  I wondered if any translations made it possible to follow along without knowing Greek.  So far I haven’t found any.)

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I love it when someone else realizes/admits/ states that sometimes the translations are not 100% literal.  (and that there are translation errors & differences between different versions)!

  3. Thanks, John. For some reason, I have never really liked the ESV – nothing wrong with the translation, nothing sinister or evil – just that it has a committee feel. But, on the same side, I do use the NASB for literalness. For my daily talks with my children, etc… I use the NLT

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