The Passion Translation (hereafter as
Why Phil 1:7-8?
Phil 1:7-8 is a deep testament to the love that the Apostle Paul has towards the Philippian church, as such this is a good place to start to test the claim that
Translational and Exegetical Critique
The Greek of the text (as found in the NA28) that is under consideration is;
Καθώς ἐστιν δίκαιον ἐμοὶ τοῦτο φρονεῖν ὑπὲρ πάντων ὑμῶν διὰ τὸ ἔχειν με ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμᾶς, ἔν τε τοῖς δεσμοῖς μου καὶ ἐν τῇ ἀπολογίᾳ καὶ βεβαιώσει τοῦ εὐαγγελίου συγκοινωνούς μου τῆς χάριτος πάντας ὑμᾶς ὄντας. μάρτυς γάρ μου ὁ θεὸς ὡς ἐπιποθῶ πάντας ὑμᾶς ἐν σπλάγχνοις Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ.Phil 1:7-8 NA28
The Passion Translation offers us this translation,
It’s no wonder I pray with suchPhilippians 1:7-8 tPT
confidence,since you have a permanent place in my heart! You have remained partners with me in the wonderful grace of God even though I’m here in chains for standing up for the truth of the gospel. Only God knows how much I dearly love you with the tender affection of Jesus, the Anointed One.
Given that this is a translational and exegetical critique I will be engaging with the Greek text directly, my own gloss/paraphrase will lie underneath each section, however you might also find it useful to follow along in your own preferred English Translation, some comparisons with the translational/
Καθώς ἐστιν δίκαιον ἐμοὶ τοῦτο φρονεῖν ὑπὲρ πάντων ὑμῶν
It is right that I would think of you all in this way.
tPT loses out on the “rightness” or “justness” of Paul’s thinking here, it is clear that the phrase “It’s no wonder” is supposed to translate Καθώς ἐστιν δίκαιον, however such a translation loses some of the weight that Paul puts behind his wording. The question of whether Paul’s thinking φρονεῖν points back to his prayer (v4) or the Philippians’ salvation (v6) is made for us by Simmons, this is not a part of the Greek text, the NLT does not make a judgement on this point, the MSG chooses both, while the tPT has chosen to go with only referencing back to v4 and seemingly to drop the idea of “thinking” out of the text entirely. Indeed Simmons’ translation of 2:2 also removes reference to “being of one mind” from 2:2, to the point where I cannot figure out how the translation of that verse links up with the underlying Greek, but such an investigation would be for another paper. We must therefore ask the question, “Does Simmons, have an antipathy towards including a term such as ‘thinking’ within his translation” again a topic possibly for another essay.
διὰ τὸ ἔχειν με ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμᾶς
Because I bear you in my heart
This is the clause that drives why I want to discuss tPT’s rendering of these verses, Simmons’ “since you have a permanent place in my heart!” simply does not do justice to either the
συγκοινωνούς μου τῆς χάριτος πάντας ὑμᾶς ὄντας
you all have fellowship with me in grace,
ἔν τε τοῖς δεσμοῖς μου καὶ ἐν τῇ ἀπολογίᾳ καὶ βεβαιώσει τοῦ εὐαγγελίου
in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the good news.
Simmons adds the concept “even though” this loses the impact. If the Philippians are divorced from fellowship in Paul’s bonds then they are divorced from sharing in the grace that they and Paul share in. Again there is an importation of the concept of Apostolic suffering being over above and against Christian abundance. This simply cannot be borne out of the text, so why is it here? Is suffering antithetical to the passion of God? Is suffering antithetical to Simmons’ understanding of the Christian life?
μάρτυς γάρ μου ὁ θεὸς
For God is my witness
Simmons’ decision here to make it “Only God knows” is puzzling, Paul here is merely invoking God as his witness, not saying that this is some secret knowledge, certainly if the Roman Christians that Paul mentions in 4:22 are anything to go by then why would God be the only one to whom Paul could appeal? This translational choice only serves to make tPT unique and cool, maybe even “Passionate” whatever that means.
ὡς ἐπιποθῶ πάντας ὑμᾶς
how much I long for you all
Again Simmons’ rendering serves to diminish Paul’s own love for the Philippians, for seemingly no reason. BDAG the primary scholarly Greek dictionary defines the word in question as: “to have a strong desire for something, with implication of need.” and gives the glosses long for, and desire. Yet Simmons merely renders it as “dearly love” if this is a result of translating from the Syriac/Aramaic rather than the Greek then this disproves the claim that Hebrew/Aramaic are languages that speak to the heart, while Greek speaks to the head. These are all human languages that the God of love has used to speak his truth and love to us his people.
ἐν σπλάγχνοις Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ.
with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Simmons’ choices here are understandable, my only complaint is that he seems to be inconsistent in his translation of Χριστος in essentially every place where it appears, the only other translation I know of that is like this is NT Wright’s The New Testament for Everyone, but even this translation is more consistent and he gives justification for why he does this, Simmons does not.
Contrary to the claims put forth by the preface of