Monday, March 7, 2011

ESV rendering of 2 Timothy 2:15---What in the World???

Can someone at Crossway Publishing (since I know they and all the other movers-n-shakers in the Evangelical world read this blog) explain to me their translation of 2 Timothy 2:15.
"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth."
Really?  "Do your best"?  This is how you translate the Greek word spoudazo?  While it can (it a certain sense) mean that from a technical point of view, did you ever stop to consider how in our present modern context this mis-communicates more than it communicates Paul's intent?  Why not translate it as "spare no effort", "be zealous", or even "hasten"?  OK, maybe the last option sounds a little too William Shakespeare. But did you really think following the NIV {update: they followed the RSV} at this point was the best possible solution? As least the NASB captures the intensity of this word with their rendering "be diligent".

Guys, I love the ESV, but you've forced me to publicly slap your hand whenever I read/preach from this verse. Maybe I can hand out xerox'd copies of the NASB or even the KJV.  The KJV may be a off target with "study", but that's a lot easier to clarify with the congregation than "do your best".

With that said, I really do love you guys and praise God for the work your doing.  I've put myself on record as stating the ESV is the most accurate translation of God's Word in English (I even promote the ESV in the sidebar of this blog).

Keep up the good work (and please, please, please, correct this one instance of 'not-so-good work').


  1. Is not the ESV a sorta-kinda update to the RSV, which uses "Do your best?" We can assign responsibility to the NIV for much, but most likely not this.

    Just the old guy in the third row asking.....

  2. Good point. I hadn't thought to look at the RSV (I have one sitting on my shelf collecting dust).

  3. I think spoudazo sounds like an Italian potato.