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Remember we are dust

October 15, 2016 — Leave a comment

Each of us is called to live and work sacrificially and to the glory of God, and that sacrifice must be sustainable

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Rod Dreher drew my attention to Ryszard Legutko’s new book The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free SocietiesI got the book yesterday and I’m making my way through it this weekend.

The thesis of the book is that both communism and liberal-democracy are totalizing systems that consciously attempt to engineer society toward a pre-determined end understood in terms of “progress,” and “modernization.” Both conceive of history as the steady march of progress and therefore both are enemies of memory–attempting to displace tradition as a societal force.

Legutko was a dissident in communist Poland–writing and publishing works critical of the Soviets and their Polish proxies. Trained as a philosopher he is a Professor at a university in Krakow and a Member of the European Parliament.


Should the Bible change?

September 29, 2016

The publishers of the popular English Standard Version (ESV), Crossway, have been in the news recently for proposing that their upcoming revisions become a “stable version” of the translation. In other words, they proposed to no longer make any changes after this next edition.


According to Crossway:

The text of the ESV Bible will remain unchanged in all future editions printed and published by Crossway—in much the same way that the King James Version (KJV) has remained unchanged ever since the final KJV text was established almost 250 years ago (in 1769)

You may (or may not) know that most English translations of the Bible are regularly revised and updated to account for changes in the English language. The New International Version (NIV) Bible that you pick up and read at Barnes and Noble today is different from the first edition of the translation published in 1978.

The changes, for the most part, are relatively small and focus on ways of communicating the Biblical author’s most probably intent that are most effective for the English language as it is used today or on recent developments in Biblical studies.

Why might a publisher want to establish a permanent version of their translation?

One reason is a sense of permanence and longevity. According to Christianity Today:

 “We desired for there to be a stable and standard text that would serve the reading, memorizing, preaching, and liturgical needs of Christians worldwide from one generation to another.”

It’s also difficult and costly for a publisher to maintain and synchronize continual updates to a Bible version.

“From a publishing standpoint, there are some practical concerns that might drive such a decision, freezing a translation simplifies the process of keeping new editions in sync with one another, and also increases confidence in the translation itself.”

Mark Norton, Bible Development Director,  Tyndale House Publishers

There are also copyright issues. For example, the rights to the King James Version (KJV) are held by British Crown and extend only to the United Kingdom. As a result the official version of the KJV has remained unchanged for hundreds of years, however outside of the United Kingdom there have been alterations and modifications.

The ESV is the third most popular translation among evangelicals in the United States–following the KJV, and the NIV. It is especially popular among millennials, which is in some ways surprising because it a more literal, word for word translation, and avoids is not gender inclusive in the same way as other version such as the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), longtime standard Bible of the mainline churches.

Yesterday Crossway announced that they had reversed their decision and will periodically revise the ESV. They did so in an admirable way, presumably after hearing objections from a variety of biblical scholars on the need to be open to revision.

My Take

Personally, there are twin dangers here. On the one hand, the failure to revise a translation will lead to the KJV phenomenon–a wildly popular, but unread Bible. On the other hand, continual change implicitly reduces confidence in the translation itself and also in the Bible. Thinking in legal terms, changes should be made only when the preponderance of the evidence supports making the change. Its for this reason that I do not support the ESV’s re-translation of Genesis 3:16, which I will write about next week.

What do you think?

Concerning Old Wives Tales

September 23, 2016

“…[D]o not despise the lore that has come down from distant years; for oft it may chance that old wives keep in memory word of things that once were needful for the wise to know.”

-Celeborn, “Farewell to Lórien”