Translation Project: Col 1:1-8

30May09

Some friends and I are translating through Colossians this summer to keep up on our Greek. The point of the project is not only to understand Greek better, but to better understand the word of God.

I’ll be posting my translation and brief thoughts week to week, and others will do the same in the comments.

If you haven’t learned Greek, we still want to hear your insights on the passage, so please don’t view this as a closed discussion.

Here’s my translation for week one, Colossians 1:1-8:

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 to the saints in Colossae and the faithful brothers in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Father.

3 We always give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ when praying about you, 4 having heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have among for all the saints 5 because of the hope you have stored away in heaven, which you heard before in the word of truth, that is, the gospel, 6 which is present in you. And just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the entire world, it is doing the same in you, since the day you heard it and knew the grace of God in truth, 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on your behalf 8 and who has indeed made your love in the Spirit clear to us.

For me, the most difficult thing about translating a passage like this is deciding where to end sentences. In Greek, verses 3-8 are one sentence. Unfortunately, it renders as quite the run-on in English. I’ve taken a stab at it above, and my question to you, non-Greek reader, is: are the connections between phrases clear?

Obviously, I broke with the versification at verse six, taking the first phrase, “which is present in you,” with the prior phrase rather than the following. I translated παρόντος (parontos) as “present” rather than “come” as a result. Greek readers, do you agree? Or could it mean both? I also look forward to seeing how you all translated the double καθὼς καί (kathos kai) in verse six; I haven’t figured out how to show the repetition.

It’s interesting that the word “love” in verses four and eight brackets all of what is said in between. The Colossians’ love is the primary reason that Paul (and others, “we”) gives thanks. They have this love because they have hope in the things to come.

I wonder to what extent we can truly love without any hope in heaven. Christians are sometimes accused of living as if the present world didn’t matter. Sometimes we do live that way, but that goes against what’s said here. Our hope in heaven should fuel our love in the here and now.

Without any hope in the things to come, what motivation is there for pure, selfless love? I’m sure the philosophers have their answers, and if there are any rebuttals out there, I’d love to hear them.

I eagerly await your translation, critique, and/or comments below.

Advertisements


8 Responses to “Translation Project: Col 1:1-8”

  1. 1 Enoch

    1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through (the) will of God, and brother Timothy (write) 2 to the saints in Colossae and the faithful brothers in Christ. Grace to you and peace from God our Father. 3 We thank God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ whenever praying for you, 4 having heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints 5 because of the hope which laid up for you in heaven, which you heard about previously in the word of the truth of the gospel, 6 which comes to you. Just as in all the world it is bearing fruit and growing, (it is) also among you, from the day you heard it and knew the grace of God in truth, 7 just as you learned from Epaphras our beloved fellow-slave, who is a faithful servant of Christ for you 8 and who shows your love in the Spirit to us.

    To Adam
    1. Why do you translate “eis” (v.4) among?
    2. I like your translation of παρόντος as “present”
    3. I agree that love is significant and the more significant thing is that it is “YOUR” love by word order in v.8.
    4. I do not think Greek says “the word of truth, that is, the gospel”, it just says “the word of the truth of the gospel”

    To all,
    1. Is “pantote peri humon” (v. 3) connected to main verb or participle?
    2. In “it is bearing fruit and growing”, what is “it”? hope? or the gospel? or what?

    PS: My English is not perfect, so please correct me whenever you find any error in my comment so that I can learn both English and Greek.

    • 2 Adam

      Hey Enoch,

      I’ll respond to the “To Adam” first.
      1. Uh… not sure. You’re right, for is better since είς denotes the recipient. I’ll update that.
      2. Thanks
      3. Agreed. That’s also implied by the fact that the letter is to the Colossians. Does that word order have any significance for the modern reader?
      4. I’m taking it as a genitive of apposition, seeing it as simply renaming “the word of truth.” I inserted “that is” to bring that interpretive decision out. I think my way is at least possible, but I haven’t thought through all of the ramifications. How does it affect interpretation?

      As for the to all section:
      1. I guess I sorta took it with both in my translation. Both the giving thanks and the praying are done always on behalf of them. Of course, that’s not to say the Colossians were the only ones Paul ever prayed about.
      2. I would say “it” is the gospel since that’s nearer in proximity than hope.

      On the PS, HUGE props (which is an idiom for “much respect”) for taking a Greek class in English. I can’t imagine taking a foreign language class in another foreign language. I find no error in your comment, though in this context I might have said “comments” instead. But that’s being pretty nit-picky. 😉

      A question for all:
      Anybody done a word study on δούλος? I notice Enoch translated it both slave and servant. What exactly was a δούλος in that day?

    • 3 FlorenceKuek

      Translation:
      1. Paul apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
      2. to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae, grace to you and peace from God our Father.
      3. We thank God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you.
      4. For we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have towards all the saints,
      5. because of the hope which is laid up or you in heaven, of which you have heard before in the word of truth, the gospel,
      6. which is present among you. Even as in the whole world it is constantly bearing fruit and growing, so also (it is) among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth;
      7. just as you have learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf,
      8. who also made known to us your love in the Spirit.

      Discussion:
      1. Is “pantote peri humon” (v. 3) connected to main verb or participle?
      * Either way. I chose to translate it as “praying always”due to the proximity of the adverb to the verb. Also, the Greek renders better as“praying always for you.”
      2. In “it is bearing fruit and growing”, what is “it”? hope? or the gospel? or what?
      * The subject is probably the gospel. Again, the principle of proximity applies.
      3. “the word of truth of the gospel” = genitive in apposition. The word of truth = the gospel.
      4. The “hope”in heaven that is promised in the gospel was the basis of faith & love of the Colossians.

  2. 4 FlorenceKuek

    Oh, I didn’t notice Adam has answered Enoch when I published my comment. Anyway, to add one more observation here:
    “estin karpophoroumenon”= a periphrastic construction (Robertson’s Word Study), highlighting the aspectual force . The gospel bears fruit of itself in a continuing manner. It implies the inward energy of the gospel, as compared to the outward expansion of the gospel that is marked by “auxanomenon.”

    • 5 Adam

      That difference between karpophoroumenon and auxanomenon is very interesting. Would you interpret the former to say that the gospel itself is somehow increasing in its own energy, or does it refer to the inward energy of the gospel-bearers, the church?

  3. 6 FlorenceKuek

    oh, i should hv said…”Adam had answered” and not “Adam has answered.” ;o)
    hmm. wht did the middle particle “karpophoroumenon” imply?
    its own inward energy could just be that of the gospel-bearers, i guess.

  4. 7 John Nyota

    Translation:

    1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our father.

    3 We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when praying for you, 4 for we have heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven of which you heard before in the word of truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you. Indeed in the whole world bearing fruit and increasing, just as it also does among you since the day you heard and understood the grace of God in truth. 7 As you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf. 8 Indeed he has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

    comments:

    1. Breaking up vv 3- 8 into sentences: yap, that was quite a challenge. in second phrase of v.6, I thought it was a new idea – he is elaborating about the gospel instead of the colossians. Then v7 he is switching to Epaphras,so I made it a sentence on its own.

    2. On verse 3, I think “pantote” can go either with the main verb or participle. I chose to pair it with the main verb and “proseuchamenoi” as a participle of time ie “when”. and then in v. 4 “akousantes” as a participle of reason ie “for.”

    3. it is the gospel that is bearing fruit and increasing: the fruit among believers – the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the Word in the life of the believer. increasing, i believe refers to the new converts being added to the church as christians faithfully share he gospel with the world and live it out among them.

  5. 8 Enoch

    To Adam,
    I translate sundulos as a fellow-slave and diakonos servant. I think you confused, right? Anyway, I prefer to translate dulos a slave b/c at that time, dulos must be a slave more than a servant.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: