Translation Project: Col 1:1-8
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.
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