Servant or Slave: A Glimpse Inside the Bible Translation Process

Where do our modern translations come from? Who are the translators and how do they decide what the end result will be? And when, after all, is the process finally completed? Or is it ever completed?

Well, thanks to the journalism of the BBC and the openness of the ESV translation committee, you can get a glimpse of what the process entails. In the video linked below, the ESV (English Standard Version) translation committee (including such world class scholars as Gordon Wenham) debates the translation of various terms for “slave” in the Old and New Testament. Take a look:

As one whose primary translation of choice is the ESV, this clip is incredibly encouraging to me for at least two reasons:  1) I’m glad to see that the translation committee is still hard at work, ten years after the initial run of the ESV, hammering out the details.  It is my sincere hope that the ESV committee will continue to meet and reconsider the fine points of the translation, especially much of the outmoded language and word order that the translation still has as a carry-over from the KJV and RSV.  In our technological age, I think that a good translation should be frequently updated and fine-tuned.  2)  I agree with the translation committee’s decision to change “slave” in I Cor 7 to “bond-servant”–for many of the reasons listed by Wayne Grudem in the clip.  I look forward to seeing this change in future editions of the ESV.

Well, now you’ve gotten a peek “behind the curtain!”  What do you think?

Note–a special thanks goes to a fellow Bible Design Blog follower Gary Brown for sharing this link.  I’ve greatly enjoyed it, and I hope that others do, as well!


About hjimkeener

Education: B.A.: Moody Bible Institute GCTS: Knox Theological Seminary M.Div.: Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Ph.D.: Baylor University Ministry Experience: I have served as a Youth Minister, Associate Pastor of English Ministry, and a pulpit supply preacher. Teaching Experience: In addition to teaching in various volunteer and professional ministry settings, I have taught as a University Professor (Teaching Fellow; Baylor University) and as a Seminary Professor (El Seminario de la Iglesia Presbiteriana de Bolivia). I have also given lectures and sermons in Spanish.
Gallery | This entry was posted in Reading the Old Testament Today, Translating the Bible and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Servant or Slave: A Glimpse Inside the Bible Translation Process

  1. Pingback: Making a Good Translation Better: The 2011 ESV Update and Beyond | For His Lovingkindness is Everlasting.

  2. Pingback: Fine-Tuning a Modern Classic: The New Black (Imitation Leather) ESV Pitt Minion | For His Lovingkindness is Everlasting.

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