Archive for September 6th, 2009

Translating Philippians 2:5-11

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Today I preached on Phil 2:1-16 at North Baltimore Mennonite Church, which is a great community just a few blocks from my seminary, but (therefore and unfortunately) 45 minutes from home. The very hospitable people included one of the daughters of Ben Ollenburger, who teaches Old Testament at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary and who lived near me, and taught me, at Princeton some 25 years ago.

During the course of the sermon I read my own translation of Phil 2:5
-11, which is more or less (apart from the brackets) the one that I have used in several publications:

5-Cultivate this mindset in your community, which is in fact a community in Christ Jesus,
6-who, although being in the form of God,
did not consider his equality with God as something to be exploited for his own advantage,
7-but rather emptied himself [of all but love!],
by taking the form of a slave,
that is, by being born in the likeness of human beings.

And being found in human form,
8-he humbled himself
by becoming obedient
to death—
even death on a Roman cross.
9-Therefore God has highly exalted him
and bestowed on him the title that is above every title,
10-so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend, yes,
in heaven and
on earth and
under the earth,
11-and every tongue acclaim,
“Jesus the Jewish Messiah is the universal Lord,”
to the glory of God the Father.

There’s nothing spectacular about this translation except 2:5. To my knowledge, I’m almost the only one who has proposed it (I can think of one other scholar who has something like it in print), but I’m convinced it’s right and have argued for it on numerous occasions. For those who know Greek, my argument is that “ho kai” functions like Latin “id est” to equate “en hymin” and “en Christo….”

Maybe someone in a new translation will adopt it.