Philippians 1 (BET)

After a longer than intended hiatus, I am resuming my blog, and giving it a new look and address while I’m at it. I have chosen to kick things off again with a little exercise in translation. I spend much time in consultation with Bible translators, but I rarely take on the role of translator myself. I thought it would be a stimulating challenge to attempt some English Bible translation of my own, so I opened up a blank Paratext project and got to work.

Before I began, I had to settle a few questions in my mind about what kind of translation I am aiming for. I will probably need to hone these guideines further as I go, but these are some general statements to guide me as I dive in:

  • My source text is NA-27, but I am making use of many other translations and exegetical helps to aid my understanding of the text.
  • This translation will be functional rather than formal.
  • I aim to use my own English idiolect, communicating in plain, natural English. I will not shy away from using contractions here and there if it is natural and fits with the genre of the text. (I won’t!)
  • Where other plain English translations often abandon many traditional key biblical terms in favor of terms or phrases that those outside the church would understand better, I have chosen to retain many of those words. For example, I will use ‘gospel’ instead of ‘good news.’
  • I am not going to bother with section headings, and in this blog, portions will be presented without chapter or verse numbers.
  • Since I aim to reflect my own idiolect, my audience is myself. I am really doing this more for the process than the product, but if your idiolect is similar to mine, then perhaps you will find it useful and enjoyable.

Of course, it is absolutely imperative that every English Bible translation have a name and corresponding abbreviation. I considered calling mine “Today’s New Revised Authorized Amplified International Christian American English Standard Reader’s Bible Translation Version” (TNRAAICAESRBTV), but in the end I settled on “Ben’s English Translation” (BET).

I have begun with the first chapter of Philippians. It is one of my favorite epistles, and it is also a fairly easy entry point. I will post additional chapters and books as I have time and motivation to complete them. So, here is Philippians 1 (BET). As always, constructive criticism is welcome.

From: Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus

To: All of Christ Jesus’ holy people in Philippi (including the elders and deacons)

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Whenever I think of you, I thank my God, and whenever I pray for you, I do it with joy. From day one you’ve partnered with me in spreading the gospel of Jesus, and I have no doubt that the one who began a good work in you will see it through until Christ Jesus returns.

It’s no surprise I feel this way about you. You have a special place in my heart, because you joined me in receiving God’s grace as I defended and spread the gospel, even when I was in prison. God knows how much I want to see you again. I love you with the heart of Christ Jesus.

This is my prayer: that your love will keep flourishing as you grow in knowledge and discernment. Then you’ll understand what is best, and you’ll be pure and blameless until Christ returns. The righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ will bear much fruit in your lives, and this will bring glory and praise to God.

Brothers and sisters, please know that what has happened to me has actually caused the gospel to spread. Everyone here, even the whole palace guard, knows very well that I am in chains for Christ. And because I am here, many believers have a new confidence in the Lord, and they are now proclaiming the message more boldly.

True, some are preaching Christ out of jealousy and rivalry, but others do it with good intentions, out of love for me. They know the Lord has put me here to defend the gospel. Those who preach Christ for selfish reasons aren’t sincere. They just want to cause trouble for me in jail. But who cares? False or sincere motives aside, Christ is being preached, and that makes me rejoice.

And I’ll keep rejoicing, because I know that through your prayers and help from the Spirit of Jesus Christ, I’ll eventually be set free. I am confident and hopeful that I’ll never do anything to be ashamed of. Instead I’ll be bold, and my whole life will keep magnifying Christ as it has been, whether I live or die. To me, living is all about Christ, and dying would be even better. If I live, I’ll stay productive in my work. But I really couldn’t tell you what I would choose. I’m torn between the two. I want so much to go and be with Christ. That would be far better for me. But it’s better for you that I stay alive. I’m sure of that, so I know that I’ll stay with you and help you grow with joy in what you believe. Then when I return to you, you will have great pride in Christ Jesus because of me.

Just make sure you live in a way that reflects the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or not, I’ll hear that you’re standing firm together, fighting as one for the gospel you believe, and not letting your opponents intimidate you at all. Then it will be clear to them that they will be destroyed, but you will be saved. And God will do all of this. He has been gracious not only in giving you faith in Christ, but also in making you suffer for him. Your struggle mirrors my own. You saw it yourself, and even now you’re still hearing about it.