Summer 2017

Translating the Text

Q&A with Darian Lockett, translation oversight committee member for the Christian Standard Bible

A brief interview with Darian Lockett (associate professor of biblical and theological studies), who served on the translation oversight committee for the Christian Standard Bible, Holman, 2017.

What sets the Christian Standard Bible apart from other Bible translations?

We have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to reliable English translations of the Bible. While that is a fact for which to be grateful, it in no way justification to conclude that the task of translation of the Bible into English is complete. Striking the balance between accuracy and readability especially with an eye to current English usage motivated the original from-scratch translation project that produced the HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible) and has now led to the full-scale revision culminating in the CSB — the project for which I served on the translation oversight committee. Characteristics of the CSB include: dependence on the latest Hebrew and Greek scholarly editions of the Old and New Testaments, translation taking into account advances in biblical scholarship, and concern for readability (especially public reading).

As one of 10 translation oversight committee members for the CSB, what has your role involved?

It was an honor to work with the translation oversight committee, especially with our chair, Tom Schreiner. Our TOC group was divided into Old and New Testament working groups with each individual assigned particular books for which we were responsible to suggest translation changes. These suggested changes then would be vetted by the subcommittee (New or Old) for final approval. I specifically worked on the Gospel of Mark, and James through Revelation.

For any Greek geeks out there, can you offer any specific verses where you helped to advocate for a certain word choice?

As one might imagine, some of our discussions considering specific translation changes were very animated. I can still remember an intense afternoon subcommittee discussion over changes in Galatians with Tom Schreiner and Andrew Das (both of whom had just published major commentaries on Galatians) going back and forth. Needless to say, I learned a lot that afternoon. 

Deciding upon a final translation of James 4:5 was particularly difficult. For anyone who has looked into the Greek phrase in the second half of the verse knows some of the difficulties. In the end we translated the phrase: πρὸς φθόνον ἐπιποθεῖ τὸ πνεῦμα ὃ κατῴκισεν ἐν ἡμῖν, "The spirit he made to dwell in us envies intensely?" One of the challenges with this translation is that “envies intensely” takes the verb epipotheo as synonymous with the adverbial pros phthonon, and the adverbial phrase functions simply as an intensifier (quite literally, actually). The problem, one committee member raised, is that there is no lexical basis to render epipotheo as "to envy." However, another member noted the question in my mind, though, is whether "long for with envy" (lit.) as a syntagma is rendered well in English as "envies intensely." That actually seems possible to me since words take their meaning in association with other words. To my mind that is a nice paraphrase of what the two words together mean in English. Thus the balance between insisting on the semantic range of meaning for individual words and the nuance of meaning when those words are used in a particular context with other words.

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