Monday, August 26, 2013

Driscoll Likes Big Words 4

The ESV is a fine formal equivalence translation with the occasional low-Calvinist dynamic translation. Mark Driscoll, however, wants to crown it king of the universe and discourage you from using the NIV or the NLT.  I think you should use multiple versions if you don't know Greek and Hebrew, and that it's perfectly fine to use dynamic equivalence translations.

My previous posts include:
1. The letter kills, the Spirit gives life.
2. All translation involves interpretation.
3. Stay out of semantics; keep your day job.

His fourth argument is
4. The ESV uses theological nomenclature.

Basically, the ESV uses big theological words you should know like "justification" and "propitiation." Driscoll objects to translating the word "justify" with the NLT's "declare us righteous" or the Message's "put us in right standing."

Really?  Does Driscoll really think that we will always be able to find one word in English that corresponds to each word in Greek?  Shall I critique the ESV for using the word "guarantee" to translate the Greek word arrabon in 2 Cor. 1:22 and Eph. 1:14?  The KJV's "earnest" would be better, and fits Driscoll's fetish for archaic words.

But frankly, the NIV does a great job of unpacking the agreed meaning of this Greek word: "a deposit, guaranteeing..."  Unless you want to use the word "earnest" (which the ESV apparently didn't want to use), it's going to take more than one word to get the meaning as much into English as possible. It's really hard to believe Driscoll could really think you're usually going to be able to translate one word for one word. Is he really that linguistically incompetent?

And does he really think that the translation, "propitiation," is any less interpretive than "put us in right standing"? Frankly, there's more agreement among scholars on "put us in right standing" as the meaning of "to justify" than there is on "propitiation" as a translation of the Greek word hilasterion.  I personally think the NLT's "sacrifice for sin" and the NIV's "sacrifice of atonement" are much less interpretive translations than the ESV's "propitiation."

I like "theological nomenclature" too.  I'm delighted to see people learn it.  But like God "I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words" in theological nomenclature.

P.S. His use of proof-texts is just atrocious. What is 1 Corinthians 4:6 about, not to go beyond what is written? It sure doesn't have anything to do with translation philosophy. And does he really think Proverbs 30:5-6 is about translating word for word? A word from the Lord is something bigger than a single word.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Driscoll keeps talking about being a Christian Man (note the capital M), but he misses what seems to most encouraged in Christian character, humility. I just don't see him showing that in his public life.