The Gospel of Mark: A Translation

 

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I spent the winter and spring translating the Gospel of Mark from New Testament Greek to English.  Here are a few sample lines from the first six verses of Chapter 3.

  1. He went up again into the synagogue, where there was a man with a shriveled hand.
  2. They watched him closely in the synagogue, to see whether he would heal him, so that they might denounce him.
  3. He says to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand in the middle.”
  4. He says to them, “Is it legal to do good or to do bad on the Sabbath? To save a soul or to kill it?” They kept silent.
  5. He looked around with anger, having been saddened by their hard hearts. He says to the man, “Stick out the hand,” and he stuck it out. His hand had been restored again.
  6. The Pharisees and Herodians left immediately. They conspired about how they might destroy him.

 

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ROMANS EIGHT–A TRANSLATION FROM THE GREEK TEXT

Half-way there.  Only eight more chapters to go after this one.

Theological Notes

Romans eight might be the most critical chapter in the whole Pauline corpus of the New Testament.  It transitions the sad argument Paul has been making about the guilt of humanity and the need for grace that culminated in Romans 7 with “What a miserable person I am” and moves into the good news–that Jesus loves us, died for us, and the Holy Spirit dwells within us and intercedes between our spirit and God.

We are not slaves.  We are not servants.  We are not debtors.  We are not animals.  We are children of God, joint-heirs with Messiah into all that eternity is.  It is impossible to read Romans 8 without smiling.

Translation Notes

It is very difficult at times to know whether Paul is talking about the spirit as a human aspect or if he is referencing the Holy Spirit. A good example is verse 5.  However, it is very clear to me me that in verses 26 and 27 almost every English translation has it completely wrong.  I believe Paul is addressing two different spirits, God’s Spirit and the individual human’s spirit.  The Spirit of God searches the heart (v. 27), which is the same thing as the spirit of human beings (v. 26) who do not know how to pray for themselves. Our spirit, as it were, then connects us to the Spirit of God at a gut level that helps us move beyond our thoughts into the love and abiding presence of the Lord. Note that this does not give credence to the old heresy that human beings are composed of three mostly independent individual parts—body, soul, and spirit.  That is platonic nonsense.  Instead, it is merely speaking about that emotional center of human beings, when we can’t or don’t even know what to say because the pain is so deep. It is in these places that the Lord comes to us—he searches for us.  He comforts us with his abiding presence and nothing can separate us from that.

Verse 23 has two different ‘ourselves’ and two other reflexive words that could be translated ‘ourselves.’ I shrunk it down to one because it sounded loopy.

Chapter Eight
1. Now then, there is no condemnation to those in Messiah Jesus.
2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Jesus freed you from the law of sin and death.
3. The law was incapable due to the weakness of the flesh, so God sent his own son who looked like fleshly sin and was near sin; he condemned sin in the flesh.
4. So that the demand of the law might be fulfilled among us, not by walking in the flesh but by Spirit.
5. Those who live by the flesh think about fleshly things, but those by the Spirit, spiritual things.
6. The thoughts of the flesh are death, but thoughts of the Spirit are life and peace.
7. For the thoughts of the flesh are hostile to God, it does not subject itself to the law of God, nor is it able to.
8. Those in the flesh are not able to please God either.
9. You are not in the flesh, but in Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But whoever does not have the Spirit of Messiah, this person is not his.
10. If indeed Messiah is in you, even though the body is dead through sin, the Spirit is life through righteousness.
11. If the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one that raised Messiah from the dead, he will give life to you and your mortal body through the indwelling of his Spirit in you.
12. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not now debtors to the flesh that we must live according to the flesh.
13. For if you live according to the flesh you are destined to die, but if you put the deeds of the body to death then you will live in the Spirit.
14. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the children of God.
15. For you did not receive a spirit of servanthood to fear yet again, but you received a spirit of family, in which we can call out to the Father, “Daddy.”
16. The same Spirit testifies within our spirit that we are children of God.
17. But if we are children and heirs, heirs of God, then we are also joint heirs of Messiah. Just as we suffer together with him so too we will be glorified together with him.
18. For I consider the suffering of right now incomparable to the glory which will be revealed in us.
19. For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God.
20. Creation was not willingly subjected to emptiness, but the one who subjected it did so in hope
21. that creation itself will be liberated from bondage to decay into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22. For we know that up until now creation groans together as if in travail.
23. And not only that, but we too, who are the first-fruits of the Spirit, we groan within ourselves awaiting adoption—the redemption of our body
24. in hope that we will be saved—but if it is seen it is not hope, for who can see what he hopes for?
25. But if we do not see what we hope for, we wait with patience.
26. Likewise the Spirit helps us with our weakness, for we do not now what we should pray, but our spirit itself intercedes with wordless groanings.
27. The one searching out the heart knows the thoughts of our spirit because he intercedes for the saints according to God.
28. But we know that for those loving God it all works into good for those being called in accordance with his purpose,
29. because he knew before and predestined those to share in the image of his son, for him to be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
30. Now those he knew before he called, those he called he made righteous, and those he made righteous he glorified.
31. What then can we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32. How will he who spared not his own son but gave him over for us all not bless us all along with him?
33. Who will bring a charge against the chosen of God? God makes things right.
34. Who condemns? Messiah, who died and what’s more rose, is at the right hand of God and he intercedes for us.
35. What will separate you from the love of the Messiah: Distress, anguish, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or a sword?
36. Just as it is written, that “For your sake we are executed all day long, regarded as sheep to slaughter.”
37. But in all these things we gloriously triumph through the one that loves us.
38. For I am convinced that neither death, life, angels, rulers, things present, things future, powers,
39. height, depth, or any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Messiah Jesus our Lord.

Want to read my renderings of the first seven chapters in Romans?

Romans One

Romans Two

Romans Three

Romans Four

Romans Five

Romans Six

Romans Seven

ROMANS SEVEN–FROM THE GREEK TEXT

The text of Romans 7 was not really hard to translate, but I can honestly say putting it into English, in a form that made sense, was difficult, at least for me.  And even at that, the text I have here is not as smooth as one would hope, but I fear any further alterations change the meaning and inserts too much of my own thinking into he mix.

Theological Notes:  This chapter has been a bone of contention pretty much since it was written.  The struggle Paul writes about where he wants to to good, but ends up doing bad, and then feels so guilty about it can be understood in three ways.  First, it could be completely at face value, that he is describing the way he feels as a human being trying to follow the Lord.  Second, it might describe the condition of people in general without Christ, where people know the right thing to do but they don’t, or can’t because they are not empowered to defeat sin.  Third, it might be describing his inner turmoil as a law-observing Jew before he became a Christ-follower.

I’ve come to believe that the first option, the one most people take, can’t be right.  Paul is not writing to commiserate with us about our guilty feelings of inadequacies–instead he is writing this to lead up to 8:1.  We don’t have to live with that kind of struggle because there is no condemnation for us who follow Christ.  There is no place for guilt in a healthy spiritual life.  I tend to lean toward the idea he is describing his life when he was a law-observing Jew.

Translation Notes:    The psychological aspect of sin in this passage is chilling.  The way Paul writes it, sin is anthropomorphic, and it is a serial killer.  It has motive, means, and opportunity to kill us, and the shocking part of it is that this sin lives within us, creating a schizophrenic self that is torn between doing good or doing bad.

Later in the passage, Paul talks about what he ‘does’ and what he ‘practices’ (v. 15, for example). This could be rendered as “do” in both cases, but The Apostle chooses to use two different verbs close together, so I chose to maintain that distinction even though it sounds rather clunky.

In my translation v. 18 is far different than most other popular English versions. In fact, I find that so many other words have been added in the others that the meaning is radically altered.  I think they chose to do this exactly because that particular verse feels so creepy as it describes the indwelling of sin.

Chapter Seven
1. I assume in what I say that you know the law, brothers and sisters, so do you not know that the law rules over a person only as long as he or she lives?
2. A married woman has been bound to her husband while he is living, but if he happens to die she is legally released, by law, from the man.
3. So then, if the husband is living, she will be known as an adulterer if she is with another man, but if her husband dies she is free from the law, and therefore is not an adulterer because she is with someone else.
4. It is exactly the same with you, brothers and sisters. You have died to the law through the body of the Messiah, and you are with “someone else” who rose from the dead, so that you might bear fruit to God.
5. For when we were in the flesh sinful passions were at work in our body parts, through the law, so as to bear fruit to death.
6. Now we are annulled from the law, having died to the thing that subjugated us, so as to serve in the newness of the Spirit and not the old written law.
7. What can we say? The law is sin? Absolutely not. Yet, I knew not sin except by the law, for coveting was not known until the law says, “Do not covet.”
8. But sin got an opportunity through the commandment which produced in me all kinds of coveting, for without the law sin is dead.
9. I once lived without the law, but when the commandment came, sin was reborn.
10. So I died, and the commandment for living was actually found to be death for me.
11. For sin received an opportunity by way of the commandment; it deceived, then killed me.
12. Nevertheless the law and commandments are holy, righteous, and good.
13. So good things became death to me? Of course not. Sin was working hard at producing death, and now it could be revealed by the good things in me, that is how sin became abundant because of the commandment.
14. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I belong to the flesh, having been sold-out under sin.
15. I do not know what is going on, for I do not practice the thing I want to, instead I do the things I hate.
16. If I do not do what I want, then I agree with the law, that it is good.
17. Yet now it is no longer me working, but the sin inhabiting me.
18. Certainly I know that it doesn’t inhabit me, this is only my flesh, for the good things for me to want are near, but my flesh does not want to do good things.
19. For I do not do the good things I want to do, but what I practice are the bad things I don’t want to.
20. But if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me working but the sin inhabiting me.
21. I find that there is a law, that whenever I want to do good things, all the while the bad things are nearby me.
22. My inner person delights in the law of God,
23. but I see another law in my body parts plotting against the law of my mind, holding me captive to the law of sin that is in my body parts.
24. What a miserable person I am; who will rescue me from this body of death?
25. But thanks be to God through our Lord Messiah Jesus. Therefore now I serve the law of God in my mind and not the law of sin in my body.

ROMANS SIX–FROM THE GREEK TEXT

It is hard for me to believe that at one time I thought I would finish my translation of Romans before Independence Day.  Here it is July 6 and I am not even half-way through.  But I am having fun.

Theological Notes:  The baptism imagery is key in Romans 6.  It feels to me like Paul might be quoting some kind of early baptism liturgy regarding the old way of life as opposed to the new to make his point that sin should not be a natural part of life for the Christ-follower.

There is also a rather pointed sexual reference mid-way through the text that carries through to the end.  What most translations render as ‘members’ are, to me, clear references to genitalia.  Paul might have something specific in mind, such as men who are frequenting temple prostitution or sexual rituals in connection with pagan practices.  I say men because there could be some double entendre with the word “present” which can also mean “stand up.”  Instead of getting too graphic, however, I chose to use “body parts” although I don’t mean ears and toes.

For Paul it is all about who you serve.  Bob Dylan and Paul would agree that you “Gotta Serve Somebody.”  Paul believes there are only two choices–you can serve sin or you can serve Messiah.  The payoff for serving sin is death, but the payoff for serving Messiah is eternal life (v. 23).

Translation Notes:

Paul uses the word “walk” (v. 4) in all its metaphorical richness to describe the life we live after our baptism.  Again, I have chosen to use the metaphor walk rather than render it ‘live’ because it seems to me to speak almost as richly as the original metaphor did in the ancient world.

Verses 17 and 18 only make sense if they are interwoven.  These were particularly troublesome to get at.

In verse 20 I added the word “responsibility” to help smooth out the rendering.  Without adding that or some other word, the meaning is muddled.  Paul is trying to say that before we became faithful followers of the Lord, back when we lived as servants of sin, we were free from the requirements of righteousness.  Now, however, that we have received grace, we no longer have that luxury, for we are responsible to be righteous, we are responsible for our actions.

Chapter Six
1. What shall we say? Should we persist in sin so that grace might increase?
2. Never! We died to sin, how can we now live in it?
3. Do you not know that those of us who were baptized into Messiah Jesus were baptized into his death?
4. Therefore we were buried together with him in death through baptism so that just as Messiah was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so too we might walk in newness of life.
5. For if we become united in the likeness of his death, we also will have the likeness of resurrection.
6. This we know—that our old person has been crucified together with him—so that he might abolish the sinful body to no longer serve sin.
7. For anyone who has died is freed from sin.
8. If we died with Christ, we believe we will live with him.
9. Knowing that Christ has been raised from the dead, he no longer dies, nor does death any longer hold dominion over him.
10. For when he died, he died to sin once for all. Now that he lives, he lives to God.
11. You also should think of yourselves as dead to sin but alive to God in Messiah Jesus.
12. Therefore, do not obey your desires, letting sin reign in your mortal body.
13. Neither present parts of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present your body parts to God as instruments of righteousness, present yourselves to God as if you came back to life from the dead.
14. For sin no longer will have dominion over you, for you are not under law, but grace.
15. What now? Should we sin just because we are not under the law but under grace? Never!
16. Do you not know that when you present yourselves as a servant to anyone in obedience, as a servant you must obey, whether it is sin unto death or obedience unto righteousness?
17&18  But the grace of God is that even though you had been obedient servants of sin, now, having been freed from it, you have given over your hearts to the form of teaching that makes you into servants of righteousness.
19. I speak in simple, everyday human ways because of your weakness. You once presented your body parts enslaved to impurity and lawlessness for the sake of more lawlessness, but now you must present your body parts enslaved to righteousness in holiness.
20. For when you were slaves to sin, you were free from the responsibility to righteousness.
21. What fruit did you have back then? Only those which you are now ashamed, those that lead to death.
22. But now that you have been freed from it and are now serving God, you have your holiness and the resulting eternal life as fruit.
23. For death is the daily wages of sin, but eternal life is the gift of God through Messiah Jesus our Lord.