Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Philippians 2:5-11

Although this particular "pericope" (cutting around) misses 2:1-4 and then 12-13, it is so powerful that it can stand alone! The translators have a tricky time with this passage and ending up translating the verbs as nouns and vice versa.

2:5 The key verb/idea here is "phrone-oom" which means have a mind/regard/think. This verb is found twice in 2:2. Interestingly the translators all make this verb into a noun: "Have the same mind" or some varient of this. Not sure if this has too much impact, but maybe you can help me see this.

This verse is rather strange to translate.
- The stand translation is to make "grasp" a verb. The underlying Greek word here is "harpagmon," which means booty, plunder, something to be siezed (even violently, through robbing, etc). So the more natural translation is probably, "Jesus did not consider plunder to be commesurate with God."
- Jesus is said to be in the "morphe" of a God. Morph means form. The idea of form is important -- Greek gods, as any museum will show you, had beautiful forms, not those of slaves! Click here for more

2:7 Ken-oo is the key verb here (emptied). The power of this verb cannot be lost! Jesus emptied -- became nothing! (Grammar Note: Paul uses a participle in an easy way to translate here-- He emptied himself, taking (ptcp) the form of a slave. Participles, especially in narrative, often flow much more naturally than we assume!)

2:7 Three separate words are used here to talk about the likeness of Jesus to God and humanity; morphe; schema (like schematics); and homoiooma. The most significant, I would argue is morph, not because of its Greek connotations, but because of the fact that Paul will use this word later in the letter, to talk about how we will inherit the shape of Christ (symmorphos, 3:21).

2:8 The word obedient is found here. In Greek, the word is related to listen (akou-oo). Obey is "hypo-akou-oo" or "under listening" To put oneself under what one hears!

2:11 The phrase here "Jesus Christ is Lord" is literally "kurios Ihsous Christos." To confess and profess loyalty to the Emperor was "kurios kaisaros." interesting juxtaposition of the "now" and "yet to come."

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