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What’s In A Translation

  

We all know that how a particular version is translated can make a huge impact on what a person believes to be the truth of Scripture.  This is very important when it comes to understanding who God is and who Jesus is.  Below is a sample of some English translations of Philippians 2:6.  One can see that if all someone did was read certain of these translations alone, it would be almost impossible for them to come to a correct understanding of who Jesus is.  I’ve put a “*” next to the ones that I thought should be on probation, “**” next to the ones that should be on double probation; “***” next the ones that should be on triple secret probation.  How would you rate them?

New American Standard Bible

who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,

English Standard Version

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

***New Living Translation

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.

Holman Christian Standard Bible

who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage.

**The Message

He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all.

**New International Version

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

**Worldwide English

He was in every way like God. Yet he did not think that being equal to God was something he must hold on to.

**Amplified Bible

Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained,

Young’s Literal Translation

who, being in the form of God, thought [it] not robbery to be equal to God,

***Contemporary English Version

Christ was truly God.  But he did not try to remain equal with God.

*Today’s English Version

He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to become equal with God.

***Wuest Expanded Translation

[This is the mind] which is also in Christ Jesus, who has always been and at present continues to subsist in that mode of being in which He gives outward expression of His essential nature, that of absolute deity, which expression comes from and is truly representative of His inner being [that of absolute deity], and who did not after weighing the facts, consider it a treasure to be clutched and retain at all hazards, this being on an equality with deity [in the expression of divine essence]

*Moffatt

Though he was divine by nature, he did not set store upon equallity with God,

King James Version

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

Darby Translation

who, subsisting in the form of God, did not esteem it an object of rapine to be on an equality with God;

*Today’s New International Version

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

**Twentieth Century

Though the divine nature was his from the beginning, yet he did not look upon equality with God as above all things to be clung to,

**Weymouth

Although from the beginning He had the nature of God He did not reckon His equality with God a treasure to be tightly grasped.

*Williams

Though He was existing in the nature of God, He did not think His being on an equality with God a thing to be selfishly grasped,

Murdock

who, as he was in the likeness of God, deemed it no trespass to be the coequal of God;

**Montgomery

who, though from the beginning he had the nature of God, did not reckon equality with God something to be forcibly retained,

Bible in Basic English

To whom, though himself in the form of God, it did not seem that to take for oneself was to be like God;

*God’s Word (I’ve always thought that the name of this translation was a bit presumptuous)

Although he was in the form of God and equal with God, he did not take advantage of this equality.

***New English Translation

who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped,

(I give the NET 3 *’s because of the footnote that goes with this verse: “The Greek term translated form indicates a correspondence with reality. Thus the meaning of this phrase is that Christ was truly God.”)


2 Responses to “What’s In A Translation”

  1. on 15 Feb 2009 at 1:20 pmWolfgang

    Hello,

    We all know that how a particular version is translated can make a huge impact on what a person believes to be the truth of Scripture.

    This is the case when people are not aware of the fact that the translation from which they are reading (true of any translation) is NOT to be regarded as equally inspired nor accurate as the originally written Scripture.

    A translation reflects the understanding of the translator(s) and should be read carefully with attention to the overall scope and contexts … This does provide some means of determining where perhaps a translation of a particular passage may need a closer look.

    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

  2. on 16 Feb 2009 at 4:07 pmSean

    Wow, great post. I think the TNIV should get the same dismal rating as the NIV. This one verse is notoriously difficult to translate because of the word “form” morphe and because there are two options for harpagmon: (1) grasping for something you don’t have or (2) retaining what you already have (i.e. using it to your advantage).

  

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