In an effort to get my Koine Greek up to par again, with the hopes that I can move into Attic and Ionic soon, I’ll be posting my personal translations on here for all to see and comment on. Since my goal in learning Attic is so that I can translate poetry, I’ll begin with one of the most poetic Koine passages: Paul’s recitation of a hymnic formula in Philippians 2:6-11. Since I’m doing one verse a day, I’ll be editing this every day.
(6Gr) ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ
(6En) who, possessing1 the nature2 of God, did not consider it robbery3 to be equal4 with God,
1I chose this wording, eschewing the ἐν that naturally occurs, in order to bring out the meaning of ὑπάρχων. This word (Strong 5255) connects to (Strong 5223) ὕπαρξις, which is the term for a possession or property.
2Hotly debated word throughout the ages, I translated it as “nature” in order to avoid the theological slipperiness of “form.” Though both meanings are possible, Paul’s use of “equal with God” makes it clear that “form does not get across the whole story.
3The use of “robbery” here makes tons more sense when contrasted with Paul’s use of “possession” earlier.
4The word here is is-os, meaning “equal,” which you might remember from the math term isosceles, meaning “equal legs.”
Here’s a poem that’s been sitting in the back catalogue for a while and gone through multiple revisions so far [This is draft #5]. It’s been submitted to a few places and keeps getting sent back, so it might take a lot more work to get it out. See what you think!
My Father has sent me
to find bread in the wilderness,
or, if there is no bread,
to discover loaves in the earth.
The tide of the dust
lifts and bathes me
to my waist. As I wade
the ever-pleating sand
rubs my soles and chips away
flakes of unyielding flesh.
I have seen cities form
and crumble with the coming
of the clouds at morning,
their parapets milky-white
in the scaffolding of the sun.
Music has not flowed from
the stones for days; echoing
through the thick breeze, voices
wander in search of ears
to claim them. Their language
is one I speak,
but not my native tongue.
My eyes do not see
clearly the shadows
that rise as rocks mask the sun.
“he has joined the tribe
of the desert,” they will say,
and i will not live
to correct them.
my gut has risen to force
its way through my chest;
hunger and starvation
converse in the silence.
Finding a speck in my eye,
i have stopped to gaze at its size.
What seems a boulder
is now a grain;
light carves a pass through it
as through still waters.
The scabs on my soles
have fallen away,
leaving new flesh
under their veil.
Clouds drift and tumble across
the horizon, jutting their parapets
higher across the plain.
I float on each new tide,
a chunk of driftwood that
seeps with all knowledge
of where it is directed.
My Father will not come
to me but I will go
to Him. All was buried
in sand, and I was fed.
[Having trouble? Read Matthew 4:1-2.]
Thanks for reading!
My friends, the end has come. The beast has risen, and its name is Conservapedia.
Now, for those of you who may be faithful adherents to this website, I do not profess to have seen all the content of their wiki, but I have seen with my own two eyes their “Conservative Bible Translation,” which mocks the Greek the New Testament was written in. Let me go through a few points with you:
1. The first two words of their main page are “Liberal Bias.” I think all of us can see where this is heading.
2. They outline three main “sources of error” in translations of the Bible:
• lack of precision in the original language, such as terms underdeveloped to convey new concepts introduced by Christ
• lack of precision in modern language
• translation bias in converting the original language to the modern one.
This part is especially laughable. Basically, these folks are claiming that since both languages are precise, neither can be relied on for a definitive meaning, and thus only Conservatives can bring out the “true Conservative meaning” behind the text. To solve this problem, these “translators” are working from the most definite language they can find: King James English. The accusation of a translation bias is also ridiculous, since this calls into question the merits and skill of the International Bible Society and the Wycliff Bible Translators, two of the most respected translation societies.
3. They offer ten guidelines for their work. Here are a few of the best:
• Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias.
They give no specific examples of this “liberal bias” here, but one can assume they are referring to the multiple hippies referenced in Scripture.
• Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, “gender inclusive” language, and other feminist distortions; preserve many references to the unborn child (the NIV deletes these).
Apparently, the idea of including humans other than men in the term αδελφος is a blasphemy unto God that has been inserted by feminists wishing to subvert the chauvinistic Christ.
• Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms to capture better the original intent; Defective translations use the word “comrade” three times as often as “volunteer”; similarly, updating words that have a change in meaning, such as “word”, “peace”, and “miracle”.
Still out to stop the Red Scare, I see. I wonder how the word “miracle” needs to be updated, and how “peace” might have been misinterpreted for 2,000 years.
This last one is my personal favorite:
• Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning.
Jesus apparently was content to let the market fix itself. Why else would he have come to earth, if not simply to give us a pattern for how our governments should structure their economies? I guess they missed the parable of the talents and Jesus’s “redistribution of wealth.” That part must have been a redaction by the liberals of the 1st century.
As a translator and scholar of these texts in their original form, this makes me laugh, but also makes me question the motives of those who profess to be “Christian.” Politicizing Christ in this way is akin to placing an eagle on the cross in the place of Jesus. The creators of this “translation” have made the error of the Jewish zealots; they understood Jesus as coming to revolutionize their government and free them from political oppression. In reality, the message of Christ is about freedom from spiritual oppression, and any political undertones that can be found in Scripture are all subordinate to His spiritual message and salvific work.
Check out their translation of the Epistle to Philemon for a good laugh.