Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Disappointment with One Verse in the ESV

I've been a pretty strong proponent of the ESV, but I just found out about a really disappointing decision the committee made on Daniel 9:25. The NASB translation:
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
And the ESV:
Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.
The problem is not necessarily in the words, but in the punctuation. The ESV (following the RSV and NRSV) separates the initial 7 weeks from the subsequent 62. The result is that Cyrus becomes the natural historical fulfillment, and the arrow pointing directly to Jesus as the Messiah is eliminated. In addition to the NASB, KJV, NKJV, NIV, and (I am told) HCSV get it right.

The articles linked here and here explain several reasons why this may have taken place. Perhaps the most plausible to me is that the Masoretes weren't big fans of identifying Jesus as the Messiah, so they manipulated the accents to eliminate the connection in this verse. (Of course, vowels and punctuation were not present in the original Hebrew texts, but were added much later.) Interestingly, the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT that dates to 2 or 3 centuries B.C.) supports the NASB reading.

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