The cover for this issue was supposed to feature a shelf nearly full of Bibles. There was, however, to be a blank space, like the gap-toothed grin of a schoolboy, to suggest that there is still room for another translation.

You'll have to picture that for yourself, because less than two weeks before this issue went to press, terrorists created a gap in the New York skyline and a huge empty space in our hearts.

Inside this issue, however, you will still find several key articles about the Bible and Bible translation. One of them, Ray Van Leeuwen's "We Really Do Need Another Translation" (see p. 28), argues that most of our modern versions are based on a translation theory that results in Bibles that are easy to read, but which lack transparency to the original text. The result? Translation with too much interpretation. The remedy? Van Leeuwen says we need to recover as our dominant translation one of the more difficult, but also more transparent, English versions.

CT's long-term theological adviser, J.I. Packer, shares this concern, and has been heavily involved in the past few years with a new version to be released within days of this magazine's going to press. With his characteristic British reserve, Dr. Packer says, "I don't often say I'm proud of the things I've had a hand in. I'm proud of this."

The object of Dr. Packer's pride is the English Standard Version (ESV), a correcting, updating, and improving of the Revised Standard Version of half a century ago. He was invited to serve on the ESV's Translation Oversight Committee as someone who would "hold a watching brief to ensure that there would be no theological gaffes."

That role suited him, but when the committee began its work, he showed a knack for Greek as well. Few people know that before he got his formal training in philosophy, he spent his first five terms at Oxford studying Greek and Latin. As it turned out, he was one of only two scholars on the final review committee with a specialty in both classical and New Testament Greek. (The other was Bruce Winter, warden of Tyndale House in Cambridge.) Dr. Packer ended up as General Editor.

The goal of the committee was "to produce the Bible in a translation as near word for word as flowing English would allow." That goal requires judgment calls, and as

I read some of the advance pages of the ESV, I encountered a number of phrases that sounded to me more Hebrew than English. As someone who studied biblical languages in college, I delighted in the transparency of the text. But I wondered how many readers there were who wanted to experience the Bible this way.

Dr. Packer told me I wasn't the ESV's ideal reader. "Joe the bus driver," he said, is the ideal reader. "A person who appreciates the simple, unliterary, down-to-earth English you find in daily newsprint. Joe works best with English that is essentially Anglo-Saxon—such as you find in William Tyndale, John Bunyan, and C.S. Lewis." The RSV was already in that kind of English, so the translators' task was to correct and upgrade without stylistic change.

If you look at who cherishes the King James Version (which is Anglo-Saxon at heart), I suspect you will find proportionally more bus drivers (socioeconomically speaking) than professors. They think the Bible is worth the work of careful reading, and they lack the educated elite's penchant for fastidious vocabulary. The ESV, with its straightforward, businesslike English, should find a wide readership, from the seminary-trained to Joe Lunchbox.

In our next issue: Young Christians rethink our culture's acquiescence in birth control, and relief organizations struggle with the ethics of fundraising.

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