Sunday, July 05, 2009

Reflections on ESV onlyism

I am just going to jot down some of my thinking on ESV onlyism. First off, because this translation so closely resembles the RSV, it appeals to those who do not like change. And I am one of them. I understand this fully. I am not surprised to see many people use this Bible.

However, I am surprised that the translation committee made some of the decisions that they made, and said some of the things they said. In any case, here are a few stray thoughts to wrap up what I have been thinking as I wrote the previous posts.

1) Some ESV supporters have taken a strong stand against women's ordination and they prefer to use a particular variation of 1 Tim. 2:12, as in the ESV, as evidence against it. They also prefer to believe that although women were prophets and judges in the Hebrew Bible, Christian women are created for submission, and cannot be real deacons, prophets, or apostles.

2) Some ESV supporters believe that women are designed by God to be in the image of God only within male headship relationships. These people support male leadership, male representation and the priority of male over female. As Ware says,
    Does this masculine language not intentionally link God's position and authority as God with the concept of masculinity over femininity?
They do not mince words about the priority or supremacy of the male.

3) ESV supporters also believe that all human relationships are that of authority and submission. The role of authority is assigned by gender and other innate characteristics of an individual and are not shared with the one who submits. This sets up all relationships as a place where one person has rule over another. Authority is not first assigned by ablity, morality, availability, proximation to the problem, but by gender. Authority belongs permanently to one person, and submission belongs permanently to the other person.

I am aware that many people who use the ESV have no association to these beliefs and many who hold to these beliefs use other Bibles. However, many of those who were involved in the ESV have widely published on the topics above.


ElShaddai Edwards said...

Without denying the legitimacy of the issues you raise, I also wonder how much of the "ESV onlyism" is due to the issues discussed in this post, namely that the ESV "is the very best translation if you are consulting a Bible while reading or otherwise learning Reformed theology." The ESV proponents that I've come across mostly tend to be Reformed advocates, in terms of the issues that they're pushing.

Rod said...

I totally agree with your sentiments. This is part of the reason why I refuse to use the ESV. I know the Calvinist, subordinationist biases of the translators.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

El Shaddai,

That is an excellent quote from Kenny. Yes, that describes it very well.


Thanks for linking to my series.

John said...

Excellent post. There is much to like about portions of the ESV, but the tendency to import the translators theology into the text is inexcusable.

I've started reading the NET translation from Though the NET team are mostly DTS profs and have a clear theological bent, the translation itself almost entirely avoids theological imposition. When it does slip, there is typically a lengthy footnote which gives readers the tools to disagree with the translators if they so choose.