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Can Modern English Really Be The Litmus Test For A Translation?

Mark L. Strauss wrote a lengthy paper about the ESV not using the standard English language. In nearly every instance, Mr. Strauss pointed out how the TNIV was superior in readability. The problem is that every translation, for whatever reason, seems to be unable to always order words into a way that is accurate, understandable, and have the form found in the common English. I came across an example of this in Hebrews 5:8.

ESV: Althoughhe was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.

TNIV: Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered….

Which is the way you would say the sentence? Which sentence makes more sense? Which one sounds like Yoda from Star Wars?

I point this out to restate that Mr. Strauss’ objections seemed to carry a strong and unnecessary bias against the ESV. Every translation that attempts to use formal equivalence has these kind of word ordering complications, including the TNIV. I am not sure why translators and editors do not catch these kinds of phrases and fix them in their revisions. Who would write the sentence the way the TNIV did in the first place? Why wouldn’t an editor catch this confusing phrasing before going to press? I don’t know. But every translation has these quirks throughout its pages. It is unfair to point out how one translation does this when every translation does this. Maybe one day a translation will have its words perfectly order…but I am not holding my breath.

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