May 03, 2005

The ESV Can't Always Get it Right

I really like the ESV translation; I even have their “verse of the day” on my sidebar. However, I think they badly translated the verse-of-the-day today. I think they tried to clarify it a little, but sadly, it just made the verse make less sense, in reality.

Isaiah 55:10-11


For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.


For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

This verse points out that just as the rain and snow come from heaven, and don’t come back until their purpose is fulfilled (i.e. helping the plants grow) --- that the ‘word’ of God works in the same fashion (be it via the Bible or the Word Himself, Jesus.)

However, notice that the ESV leaves out the “without” --- this is very important in my mind. Leaving it out makes it seem like there is no water cycle. It makes it seem as if the person writing it is an uneducated, unscientific observer (for which I think the Bible is unfairly criticized.) This wording makes it seem like he observes that the rain comes down but doesn’t cycle back to heaven.

However, that’s not whats happening at all --- interestingly this guy properly describes the water cycle that wouldn’t be pointed out by “science” until more modern times. Yet this guy Isaiah got it right thousands of years ago.


At May 05, 2005 12:35 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Interesting observation, Justin. I think you are right. Thank you, also, for posting your comment on this verse on my Better Bibles Blog. Please feel free to come back there again and post some more.

At May 07, 2005 12:56 PM, Blogger Phil (Col 1:27-28) said...

I am no scholar, but what the ESV says is what my interlinear says. The "without" is supplied by the translators. But as I said, I am not a scholar, just a guy.

Blessings in Christ Jesus!

At May 07, 2005 9:06 PM, Blogger Justin Jenkins said...

Yes, but often words are "added" that aren't in Greek or Hebrew since they are implied in those tongues ... even if they aren't expressly there. I think this should be one of those cases.

At May 11, 2005 9:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me say this: no translation, including the ESV is infalliable. Every English Bible translation ever made have problems that need to be fixed. Fortunately, the translators will be meeting in late May to listen to improve the ESV.

At May 11, 2005 10:03 PM, Blogger Justin Jenkins said...


I thought the Latin Vulgate was infalliable! Ha, okay I jest.

Your point is well taken however.


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