Yesterday we posted an article on The Lutheran Study Bible and the videos that CPH put out to promote it. Some of the comments on that post questioned the replacement of the NIV with the ESV translation.
The NIV question is a common one. Simply put, the NIV was put in the balance and was found wanting by:
- The translation committee of The Commission on Worship, some heavy hitters there including Baue and Chris Mitchell.
- The Commission on Worship itself, under Paul Grime and Jon Vieker’s leadership.
- The CTCR
- The two seminaries both have adopted the ESV as their translation of choice.
- Synod in convention (2004 Resolution 2-03A) approved the LSB with ESV translation, and rejected an amendment to allow voting on the translation used.
In other words, the ESV was chosen very deliberately and carefully. The NIV has just enough of a “dynamic equivalence” flavor to it to give any good, solid Lutheran a good case of the translation heebie-jeebies. Dynamic equivalence is a level of translation that is lower than a word-for-word translation. Of course there is no such thing as a perfect word-for-word translation when you are moving from one language to another but the translators of the King James and the ESV, for example, sought to be as close to a word-for-word translation as possible. The translators of the NIV were more satisfied with a dynamic equivalence – in other words, they sought to capture the meaning as close as possible but were a little more free in their translation for the sake of reaching the culture for which we are translating. Communication was a higher concern than accuracy.
There are many other reasons the ESV is superior. It was translated to a higher education level and thus it uses a greater vocabulary which allows for a more accurate translation. There are also numerous little touches that help support a sacramental and liturgical approach to church which are more accurately translated from the Greek in the ESV than in the NIV.
The Lutheran Service Book (the hymnal that came out in 2006) uses ESV for all its bible refernces. Some of the studies are still available on the COW web site under the lectionary section on the worship project. We encourage you to check these out for a fuller defense of the ESV.