On Friday, I was interviewed by John Burger at Aleteia about the new ESV Catholic Edition Bible. (It’s one of those interviews where they transcribe what you say, so I apologize for any grammatical errors other weird inaccuracies). However, I think it gets the message across. Here’s an excerpt:
The English Standard Version-Catholic Edition pursues a word-for-word translation philosophy. It calls itself an essentially literal translation. The goal is to be as transparent as possible to the original text, while still producing good, solid elegant English in the translation. It’s not the same as reading an interlinear [which has the original language and English side by side], but it’s not pursuing a more loose translation style, often referred to as thought-for-thought style translation or dynamic equivalent. It’s really trying to stick to a word-for-word approach.
I’m excited to announce that my talk on the Dark Passages of Scripture was just put out by the Augustine Institute as the CD-of-the-month. Of course, you can download it as an mp3 as well. Not the cheeriest picture, I realize–but I guess it gets the point across!
This talk is based on my book,Light on the Dark Passages of Scripture(OSV). I deal with some of the tough stuff in Sacred Scripture. Passages in the Old Testament can be frightening or strange, certainly difficult to read. I tried to shed some light in the dark corners of the Bible to reveal how to understand the balance of God’s justice and his mercy. I deal with questions about the Canaanite conquest, innocent suffering, hell, and ultimately the Cross. I hope you find it helpful and enjoyable. If you take a listen, I’d love to hear from you if you want to leave a comment on this post.
It is so encouraging to see this project come together and to see how nicely these volumes came out. I’m just happy to have been a part of it. I think Catholic Bible Students will be very pleased with these.
Here’s a photo of a bunch of the new Bibles piled up on my desk:
Today, in a surprise move, Pope Francis issued a new Apostolic Letter about St. Jerome (c. 345-420), whose feast day is today, September 30th. Today marks the 1600th anniversary of his death. The letter is entitled Scripturae sacrae affectus, “Devotion to Sacred Scripture.” Here is a brief summary of the letter:
Jerome had a “living and tender love” for Scripture as a “scholar, translator and exegete.” He was committed to ardent, even impetuous, defense of Christian doctrine, but was also a great ascetic, hermit and “sensitive spiritual guide.”
While originally a great student and lover of classical Latin literature—“an insatiable reader of the Latin classics”—he thought of Scripture as “uncouth and ungrammatical.” However, he eventually experienced a profound conversion and devoted the rest of his life to the study of Scripture for “the greater service of God and the ecclesial community.”
His spiritual journey followed a winding course from rhetoric study in Rome to the life of a monk in Gaul, to the deserts of Syria as a hermit and then back to Rome as a priest, and finally to Bethlehem as a lifelong pilgrim.
In the desert, he encountered God and engaged in “contemplation, interior trials and spiritual combat.”
He was characterized by a “stubborn will to learn” and became an “exegete, teacher and spiritual guide,” motivated to defend the faith and Scripture.
Pope Francis puts it beautifully: “Jerome saw his studies not as a pleasant pastime and an end unto itself, but rather as a spiritual exercise and a means of drawing closer to God.”
He provides some wonderful quotes from Jerome:
“I have the habit of asking questions.”
“The Bible was written by the People of God for the People of God.”
Jerome thinks of himself as “an ancient mariner, the survivor of several shipwrecks, attempting to teach a young sailor.”
“Read the Scriptures constantly; never let the sacred volume fall from your hand.”
Jerome’s life was characterized by two major dimensions:
“An absolute and austere consecration to God”
“A commitment to diligent study”
He is a model for monks and for scholars, inspired by the prophets of old from whom he “drew the inner fire that became a vehement and explosive word, necessary for expressing the burning zeal of one who serve the cause of God.”
Jerome’s zeal for Scripture was matched by his obedience to the Church and his commitment to communion with Peter’s successor, the Pope.
He was renown for his competence in biblical languages, careful analysis of the manuscripts, and his knowledge of the history of interpretation.
Pope Francis insists that every theology faculty should teach the interpretation of Scripture and that every Catholic family should read Scripture prayerfully, inspired by the Pope’s new “Sunday of the Word of God.”
He lauds Jerome’s Latin Vulgate translation of Sacred Scripture as a bridge-building gift to the Latin Church, which should encourage modern translators of Scripture.
The Pope says “For him, study was not limited to the years of his youthful training, but a continual commitment, a daily priority.”
The Letter is a beautiful summation of Jerome’s life and work, a call to love what he loved—namely Sacred Scripture. It is a clarion call to prayerful and diligent reading and study of the Bible for all Christians. What a great tribute to the great Doctor of the Church! Happy Feast Day, St. Jerome!
A:The Translation Oversight Committee of the ESV has been very attentive to scholars’ and leaders’ concerns and suggestions, issuing a few lists of changes over the years since the first publication of the ESV in 2001. As long as Crossway continues to gather this committee, there is always the possibility for minor tweaks to the text. I would imagine the primary area where Catholic input would improve the translation is in the deuterocanonical books. I think it is important that the ESV text be regarded as stable, so I do not think we’ll see a major revision, but minor corrections and improvements. I think Catholics and Protestants will be pleasantly surprised by the common ground they share when they study this translation together.
Second, I appeared on Catholic Answers radio show a couple weeks ago:
Third, I’ve also appeared on the Formed Now! show at the Augustine Institute a few times recently (sorry! paywall):
It looks like I’ve been busier than I thought I was. I have a lot of other things cooking right now, but nothing ready to serve up just yet. I hope to have some more things to share with you in the not-too-distant future. Until then, happy Bible reading!
This is my third and last installment of Summer Scripture lectures I was originally slated to deliver at the Institute for Pastoral Leadership at University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, IL. They have been holding a Summer Scripture Conference for decades and I’m sad that we weren’t able to come together this summer because of the pandemic. But thanks to IPL and my home institution, the Augustine Institute, for teaming up to support this short series.
This lecture dives into the Book of Psalms to show how the canonical shape of this premiere collection of sacred song from ancient Israel has a messianic orientation. David, to whom the bulk of the Psalter is attributed, forms the heart and soul of the collection and the five-book structure comes to us in a highly “Davidic” mode. To pray the psalms is to pray like David. Since Jesus presents himself as the “New David,” then to pray the psalms is to pray like Christ. I hope you enjoy this presentation!
Thanks, again, to the IPL and to the Augustine Institute for making this series possible!
The video below is the second installment of my lectures that were supposed to be delivered at the 2020 Summer Scripture conference event at the Institute for Pastoral Leadership in Mundelein, IL. I am sad that we had to cancel the conference due to the pandemic, but happy that I am still able to share my paper with you.
This lecture is on how the Wisdom of Solomon serves as a model for how Christians read the Old Testament. Its origin in the milieu of Hellenistic Judaism, its philosophical approach and its interpretation of biblical events set the stage for the New Testament’s own perspective on the Old Testament. I hope you enjoy it!
Thanks again to the co-sponsors of this video lecture series: the Institute of Pastoral Leadership and the Augustine Institute!
Thanks to the Institute for Pastoral Leadership at University of St. Mary of the Lake and to the Augustine Institute for co-sponsoring this lecture I delivered via video recording only in lieu of the canceled Summer Scripture 2020 event!
In this video lecture, I examine the similarity and connection between Sirach 44–50 and Hebrews 11. Both of these passages present the heroes of the Bible as examples for us to follow. This lecture was recorded a few weeks ago in June 2020. I hope you enjoy it:
Giszczak: A lot of Bible translations pursue a philosophy of “dynamic equivalence” or “thought for thought” style translation, which produces perhaps a very readable text, but not a very exact one. And the ESV takes the opposite approach of what they refer to as an essentially literal translation. The ESV is really trying to be as transparent as possible to original languages, and provide a word for word style translation rather than thought for thought style translation. And so it allows people who are studying Scripture, they get that much closer to the meaning in the original language, because they can trust what they’re reading is really what it says. So with the ESV, when you’re studying it or when it’s being preached from, you’ll hear a lot fewer of those phrases that we’re still accustomed to hearing in homilies, “well, what it really says here is.” So often the homilist or the preacher has to correct the translation in order for the people to understand it. But with the ESV, you have to spend less time retranslating in the context of study, and you can spend more time just understanding what’s there on the sacred page.
The Summer Scripture Conference 2020 at University of St. Mary of the Lake in the Chicago area has been cancelled due to the pandemic. I had mentioned that I was scheduled to speak at it a while back on my blog. But that won’t be happening. This is the year of cancelling everything! However, the organizers have asked me to film my planned lectures to share with their registrants. Once we do that, I’ll post the videos here too to share them with you.