ESV Psalm 26:1-3: a scholarly review

John Hobbins has just posted the most detailed analysis of a passage from the ESV that I have read yet. John’s review is fair and, in general, positive toward the ESV’s renderings. As a biblical scholar should, John deals exclusively with the translated text itself, not with matters of ideology or endorsements which are typical of so many statements about the ESV. John even addresses a translation wording which could be updated to more idiomatic English in his post conclusion:

The diction “I walk in your faithfulness” is intelligible, but it is not idiomatic English. In contrast, (T)NIV stands out as a completely idiomatic rendering: I “have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.” My preference goes in the direction of “ I walk in reliance on your faithfulness,” identical to (T)NIV in terms of the prepositional phrase, unlike (T)NIV in that the metaphor of walking is preserved, and with respect to tense ((T)NIV apparently overlooked the weqatal).

ESV marks an advance over RSV in this locus. On the other hand, ESV would gain from further revision toward the diction of the Hebrew.

Click here to read John’s post for yourself.

3 thoughts on “ESV Psalm 26:1-3: a scholarly review

  1. Theophrastus says:

    My comments here:

    In Psalm 26:1, David asks God to judge שפטני him.

    In Psalm 143:2, David asks God not to enter into judgment במשפט with him.

    The tension between these two requests has been the source of interesting exegesis, (e.g., see Rashi and Midrash Tehillim; see also Augustine on Psalms). Those who argue for translations which use different root words in Latin (judicare, vindicare) have missed the tension entirely.

  2. John Hobbins says:

    I concur with Theophrastus, although I wouldn’t speak of tension across Pss 26 and 143 so much as very different spiritualities.

    The New Jerusalem Bible, though it does not preserve concordance across Pss 26 and 143, and has other issues, does better than any other widely available English translation in capturing the very different tonalities of 26:1-3 and 143:1-2.

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