Mark Giszczak, S.S.L., Ph.D. is associate professor of Sacred Scripture at the Augustine Institute. He is involved in much of the work the Augustine Institute is doing to promote the newly released ESV-CE (Augustine Bible). I had an opportunity to ask him a few questions about the ESVCE. I am thankful that he took the time to answer these questions.
1) Is it possible for a list of the differences between the ESV and ESV-CE to be published, similar to the list of changes for the original RSV-CE?
- We at the Augustine Institute are working with our partner, Crossway, to publish an official list of changes. Everyone was conscious of not making this Catholic Edition into a totally different translation. Besides the addition of the deuterocanonical books, the changes are few and judicious. It is worth noting that the ESV-CE Bible differs slightly from the ESV-CE Lectionary in which a few further changes were introduced to conform to a liturgical setting.
2) More specifically in regards to the changes, one of the issues we have discussed on the blog was what some have perceived as a low ecclesiology in the ESV NT. Some have pointed to 1 Timothy 3:15 in combination with how “episkopos” is translated as proof that the ESV has a lower view of the church, compared to the RSV, NRSV, or NABRE. How would you respond to this? Do you have any insight as to why those places were not changed by the Catholic editors of the Catholic Edition (approved in India) along with an obvious verses like Luke 1:28?
- My sense is that the scholars involved in the project wanted to change as little as possible in order that the ESV might be a truly ecumenical translation. In 1 Timothy 3:15, where ESV translates stulos as “a pillar” and RSV has “the pillar” in reference to the Church, the grammatical question is rather complicated. The Greek does not have the article (“the”), and of course, neither does the Vulgate since the Latin language does not have an article. Some scholars have argued that “pillar” refers to Timothy’s conduct as bishop, rather than to the Church proper and the ESV translation allows for this possibility. So, either the Church or the bishop is to be regarded as a pillar. Either way it sounds like a high view of the Church to me.
- As for episkopos in the New Testament, the ESV pursues a literal translation philosophy and this word can literally be broken into its parts: epi- means “over” and skopos means “seer.” So the ESV-CE Bible translates it as “overseer,” but notably the ESV-CE Lectionary translates it as “bishop.” The word, episkopos, appears in the Septuagint, for example at Wisdom 1:6 and 1 Macc 1:51, and it clearly does not mean “bishop” in the conventional sense there. The English word, “bishop,” derives from the Greek word episkopos, and of course, this word indicates the office of bishop from the foundation of the Church.
- The ESV-CE Bible translates the angel’s salutation to Mary as “Greetings, O highly favored one” in Luke 1:28. “Full of grace” in English translations is influenced by the Latin gratia plena. But since the ESV is being translated directly from the Greek, one might not expect to feel the Latin influence. Yet, the ESV-CE Lectionary translates it as “Hail, full of grace.” So perhaps, we are seeing a compromise here. Bible translations are the product of many scholars, interests and ecclesial bodies coming together. We should expect to see some negotiation on these important decisions.
- And while you have pointed out some weak points from a Catholic standpoint, the ESV-CE honors Our Lady at Isaiah 7:14 where the prophet predicts “the virgin shall conceive” while the RSV and NABRE have “the young woman.”
3) When the NLT-CE was produced, the recommended changes were incorporated into the 2016 NLT text. The new Catholic and Protestant editions are the same (except for the deuterocanonicals). Do you think a similar process could happen for the ESV? If not, how much impact do you think the differences would have if Catholics and Protestants are using the ESV together in a Bible study?
- The Translation Oversight Committee of the ESV has been very attentive to scholars’ and leaders’ concerns and suggestions, issuing a few lists of changes over the years since the first publication of the ESV in 2001. As long as Crossway continues to gather this committee, there is always the possibility for minor tweaks to the text. I would imagine the primary area where Catholic input would improve the translation is in the deuterocanonical books. I think it is important that the ESV text be regarded as stable, so I do not think we’ll see a major revision, but minor corrections and improvements. I think Catholics and Protestants will be pleasantly surprised by the common ground they share when they study this translation together.
4) Many of the drawbacks of the original New American Bible have been improved over the years with the 1986 New Testament revision and the 2011 Old Testament revision. What does the ESV-CE offer to the US Catholic audience that the NABRE lacks?
- The ESV Catholic edition is a different type of translation than the NABRE. The ESV-CE attempts to offer an “essentially literal” rendering, trying to be as transparent as possible to the original text, without sacrificing solid, literary English in the process. The ESV also translates texts in such a way as to underscore a Christological reading of the Old Testament (Pss 2, 45, 110 in connection with the superiority of Christ in Hebrews 1; “Jesus” in Jude 1:5). The ESV inherits the KJV-ASV-RSV tradition, so it does not sidestep phrases or terms that sound “biblical” in an attempt to achieve novelty. The ESV Translation Oversight Committee was a relatively small yet balanced team with a rigorous translation philosophy. The fact that the team was small and unified meant that they were able to produce an exact and consistent translation that reads well from Genesis to Revelation. This word-for-word translation gives American Catholics the chance to dive deeper into the word of God and encounter it like never before.
5) What do you foresee in regards to future editions of the ESVCE? A number of people are really excited that the Augustine Institute may be able to provide some premium, reference, or even a new study edition of the ESVCE.
- I have to say that I too am excited about all of the projects in the works behind the scenes for the ESV Catholic Edition. This fall, the Augustine Institute will be releasing paperback, hardback and leather editions that I think your audience will enjoy. As things progress, we plan to put out a variety of editions to satisfy all types of Bible readers. And yes, premium Bibles, study editions, reference Bibles and other types of ESV-CE products will be forthcoming in time. Our hope is to provide Catholics with high quality, beautiful Bibles that inspire by design, offering the reader a great experience with a great translation. Crossway has done such a great job producing a wide array of elegant and useful Bible products. We have big shoes to fill!