Thursday, September 27, 2007

Psalm 127 & the ESV vs the RSV

Every year I read through the OT once and the NT twice. This year I'm reading through the English Standard Version. My basic understanding of it is that it is a conservative update of the Revised Standard Version. Since translational issues are a hobby of mine, I thought I'd take a shot at comparing the ESV with the RSV in Blaugmenting for the remainder of the year. While I don't have much of the Old Testament left to cover, I have all of the New Testament except for a few chapters of Luke that I've completed for the second time this year over the last week. Wikipedia claims the ESV varies 5-10%. We'll find out using computed statistics. No promises. It's a lot of work to do this.

Anyway, comparing those two translations in Psalm 127, the ESV varies 6.6% (notice the decimal) from the RSV. Verses 1 & 2 are identical. I'll highlight differences in the last three verses. It's interesting to notice what those differences are.

3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Ps 127:3-5). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

3 Lo, sons are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the sons of one’s youth.
5 Happy is the man who has
his quiver full of them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
The Revised Standard Version. 1971 (Ps 127:3). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Obviously, the more interesting changes are the masculine words replaced with gender neutral terms, especially since proponents of the ESV are some of the more vocal opponents of the TNIV.

Perhaps you may think to yourself, is 6.6% a typical amount of variation between translations?, i.e. how similar is the ESV in comparison to other translations?

The ESV differs in Psalm 127 from the NKJV 21.3 %, from the NASB 24.8 %, and from the NIV 33.6%.

The TNIV is said to differ from the NIV by 7% on the average. In Psalm 127 it differs by 8.3%.

Does this bore you? It probably does. I'm fascinated by this kind of stuff.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The KJV says "Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward" and nobody would ever call it gender-inclusive. In fact in translational discussions the KJV is always set out as the bad guy. "Oh, the RSV and ASV are so much more scholarly." Apparently not, since the RSV says "Lo, sons..." and the KJV "Lo, children..." In this instance the ESV is merely returning to the KJV's wording, in other words. Would to God that it would return to KJV wording in Acts 8:37 (that is, return the verse it erased) and in Matthew 1:25 (that is, put firstborn back in).