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Remodeling the Philippians Translation

Posted by Gary

I managed to move things to MS Word finally, so I don't have to do my editing here. I've improved things a bit, and I've at least gotten a rough draft through chapter 4. I'm nearly finished with the first revision up to chapter three, also. Currently, I'm going through to check for

1. Awkwardness in wording. I want things to sound as normal as possible.
2. Concordance. I want for the same Greek word to (usually) be translated as the same English word. Sometimes I have no choice but to use two different translations based on context. That's OK, though. That's what footnotes are for.
3. Checking for phrases accidentally omitted. I've found three so far. How embarrassing!
4. Checking my wording vs. several other translations. The TNIV and NRSV have been extremely helpful for wording choices. God's Word, a paraphrase of higher quality than The Message, is helpful sometimes, too.
5. Lyrical quality. I had all along intended this to be a major feature of my translation.

By God's wondrous providence and the supply of the spirit of Jesus Christ, I am gaining both progress and joy in this endeavor.

Other news:
1. I've put down my work on Genesis 1-11. It's been at a stand-still for 2 months now. Second draft is almost complete. I do intend to finish that sometime this or next year, though.
2. I've applied for a job at three local Walmarts. Prayers, please!
3. Putting memorization on hold for a while. I still intend to finish Joel and perhaps also Matthew 1-4 this year.
4. I've started learning carpentry! So far I've carved two spoons, and I'm very proud. I do this to spite the article which says that men's trade jobs are vulnerable. And also to prove that I can work with my hands. And, yes, to show that I don't hate carpentry! :)

I have a tendency to start projects, bite off more than I can chew, and never finish them. Bah. These are attainable goals. Even if I have to push deadlines back a bit, the truth is I am young. I have time. With God, nothing is impossible!

Philippians 3:12-4:1 What Lies Ahead

Posted by Gary Labels: ,

Not that I've already gotten a handle on everything or that I've fully matured. I seek that I may take hold, since Christ took hold of me. Brothers, I don't consider myself to have taken hold of but one thing: forgetting what lies behind and reaching for what lies ahead. Fixated on the goal, I run toward the prize of God's heavenly calling in Christ Jesus. For those of us who are "mature," let us think this. And if you think something to the contrary, God will reveal that to you. Nevertheless: let us live by what we've attained.

Imitate me, brothers, and observe those who conduct themselves in accordance with the example we've set for you. For many conduct themselves in a way that -- I've told you several times about them, and now I say this in tears -- makes them enemies of the cross of Christ. Their final destination is destruction, their god is the belly, their glory is in their shame; they think of early things. Yet our citizenship is in Heaven, from whence we await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform our meager bodies in conformity with his glorious body, in accordance with the power by which he is able even to subject everything to himself. So then, my beloved and longed-for brothers, stand firm in the Lord in this way.

___ Translation Notes
1. "Gotten a handle... take hold." These verbs, along with the idea of maturity, refer to mastery. Paul is saying that he hasn't mastered everything there is in Christ, but he knows that Christ is his master. The one thing he has gotten a handle on is that he needs to let go of the past and reach for what's soon to come.
2. "Mature." I think this fits teleios better than "perfect" here. People don't often delude themselves into thinking they're absolutely perfect, but we sure have a habit of thinking we have the hang of things when we don't.
3. "the belly." This is better English than "their belly" or "their stomach." It's actually more literal, too. Since the belly is a body part, and therefore an inalienable possession, a possessive pronoun is not always necessary. I think it looks better without it.
4. "meager." Elsewhere in the letter, similar words are translated as "humble." I may change this word to "humble" for the sake of concordance, but meager is more idiomatic and still conveys the idea of lowliness, so I may keep it this way.
5. The inclusion of 4:1. This transition could start the beginning of the next section, or be tagged on here at the end of chapter 3. I follow the UBS text here in putting it with chapter 3.

Verses 12-16 give us the example of how to view our own identity: the past is left behind. Our identity, the center of our thoughts, is concentrated on "what lies ahead." The simplicity and commonality of this precludes any attempt at self-glorification or foolish pride. Throughout this letter, pride has been subverted. Instead of boasting (in ourselves), we boast in Christ and what he has accomplished for us. If we all take this mindset, then we will have unity in purpose and identity.

Now that Paul set an example in 12-16, in verse 17 Paul calls us to imitate that example. Suddenly, Paul switches his thoughts to some unnamed others who have fallen from the Way and have become enemies of the Cross. Indeed, he mourns for those lost and paints a depression picture of their condition and their fate. He clings close to the Philippians, warning them against the same fate because of how much he longs for them (1:8, 4:1).

Right now, I'm only making the bare bones of commentary and translation notes. The main point, for now, is to practice my translation skills. And also, I want feedback. If you have any comments about the way I've translated things, or about anything else I've said, let me know. As much as I love to read what I type, I'm doing this so I can interact with others.

Philippians 3:1-11 Loss and Gain

Posted by Gary Labels: ,

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. It is no trouble for me to write this to you; it is a safeguard for you.

Behold the dogs! Behold the evil-doers! Behold the mutilation!

For we are the circumcision, we who serve God by the Spirit and boast in Christ Jesus and who do not put confidence in flesh -- although I have confidence also in flesh. If anyone else has grounds for confidence in flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of Israel's lineage, of Benjamin's tribe -- A Hebrew among Hebrews, I was! -- by law, a Pharisee; by zeal, a persecutor of the church; by righteousness in the Law I was blameless.

But all this which was to my gain, I deemed it loss. Moreover, rather, I deem everything to be loss because of that which is worth more: the knowledge of Jesus Christ, my Lord, because of whom I lost everything and deem everything to be offal, so that I may gain Christ, so that I may be found in him. Not with my own righteousness from the Law, but the one which comes from Jesus Christ, the righteousness which comes from God in faith. Oh, to know him and the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, to be conformed to his death, that I may somehow attain to the resurrection from the dead!

___Translation Notes
1. "mutilation." This word looks a lot like the word for circumcision, and there is a word play here. It wouldn't surprise me if Gentiles often referring to circumcision ("cutting around") as mutilation ("cutting off") as an antisemitic slur.
2. "in flesh." I'm experimenting with "in flesh" as opposed to "in the flesh" here. It seems Paul is using these nouns as as qualitative instead of definite, so it seems appropriate to translate this way.
3. "by law... by zeal... by righteousness." I tried to capture the triple-repetition of found in Greek, which uses the same preposition. It's a little strange-sounding, I admit.
4. "offal." To be blunt, the word means sh*t. It's not just "dung." It's crap. Offal is what the body gives off. It is your impurities. It's worse than "rubbish." "Rubbish" is a left over aluminum can that you can leave in the trash can indoors until it's time to take out the trash. Offal is something you get rid of immediately.

___ Commentary
It almost feels as if 3:1 is a closing. Indeed, the last section felt like a closing. That's normally where you expect to find an explanation of the courier. The switch from 3:1 to 3:2 is quite striking. Some people believe that Philippians is two letters spliced together. While I can sympathize with that theory, there is a method to this madness. This section is intensely passionate, much like 1:15-30. Most other parts of the letter feel either soft and warm, or else the default voice a preacher has. 3:1-11, however, is a sudden burst of energy that slowly levels off by the beginning of chapter 4.

Continuing our chronicle of thematic development, Pride makes a serious appearance here. Indeed, our very identity is that we boast in Christ Jesus and not in flesh. He is our great treasure and our hope. We seek conformity with his example, his sufferings, and his resurrection. Note also the fiscal language of gain and loss. Christ is our gain, and our loss is everything else.

"The End of Men"

Posted by Gary Labels: ,

In the The Atlantic there is another article concerning the disadvantageous status of boys in education today. And it's not just at the level of grade school education: for every 2 boys earning a B.A. this year, it is expected there will be three girls earning the same. There's more there, too.

If there's one marital status demographic that has significantly fallen behind, it is the single male (regardless of educational level). To put it another way:

Honestly, I have to agree that the erosion of marriage (and prevalence of eros) is due to women now setting the terms. Why should a single woman marry? It's a downgrade to personal power unless he's at least as educated. You don't need him for financial stability. You don't need him for legal representation. You don't need him for physical protection. No; men now only represent the luxury of sexual gratification. Since it comes down to sex, the religious choose to abstain (or try) and the secular choose non-committal relationships.

Whereas for single men without a degree, we have no financial stability. Marriage is profitable for us regardless of a woman's educational status (which will likely be higher, except in the case of males with PhDs). There has been an erosion in family values replaced with an emphasis on individual liberation. Yet, we humans are not made for individual self-sufficiency. We are made for a relationship of interdependence. And if women have power over men economically, but men have no equivalent power over women, then there is no true interdependence. And thus marriage and the nuclear family, as the backbone unit of which society is formed, is now eroding.

But if the gender social dynamic indeed no longer contains interdependence and women are given extreme benefits for being single while males are not, then it would make sense why certain young Christian women would aim for celibacy (and non-Christian ones just avoid marriage). Christian young women seem to feel hesitant about the commitment of marriage, which they interpret as (possibly) a call to celibacy, when it is in fact a matter of our American cherished virtue of personal freedom from interdependence.

I do lay this quite strongly (though perhaps not solely) at the feet of radical feminism's emphasis on individual freedom from constraints set by the social level of existence. Note that I am not giving a broad brush of condemnation to egalitarianism, since those two -isms are overlapping but not synonymous.

New Layout

Posted by Gary

Yeah! I'm using an amazing scroll template. Any thoughts? Ever since my original beautiful template became unavailable, I've been in limbo over this.

Boys, Girls, Education, and How Feminists Fight Yesterday's Battles

Posted by Gary Labels: ,

There seems to be evidence that our educational approach in the West is structured in a way that is more advantageous to girls than to boys. An excellent study may be found here through the Independent Women's Forum.

At present, females are more likely to graduate from both high school and college. Males, on average, seem to make more money. The reason for this is that trade-crafts (I can make up words whenever I want!) such as construction are still male-dominated. They require less education and more brawn. It is little surprise that the gender distribution there is pretty far from the mean.

While this may give men an economic advantage in a booming economy, it sure doesn't help when all those jobs are hurting because of a bad economy. While being a professor or teacher may not earn the same amount as certain male-dominated jobs requiring less education, the fact that information-based jobs require education gives women insulation against being laid off.

My father worked for many years as an engineer who drafted sprinkler system blueprints for buildings. He got laid off pretty darned often, and we had to move. This had very unpleasant effects on my family.

Hat tip to John Hobbins. John provides an article from the NY Times on the issue, also. It's anecdotal based on the experience of three schools for gifted and talented children. Still, it helps to see how things look on the ground.

John strongly puts the blame on feminism for this. I feel bad for him sometimes. Not unlike myself, he is radically moderate in a world where people are either far right or far left. Though he acknowledges that feminism has done some good (as do I, though I don't grant it as freely as he does), he is also quick to point out its failures. He does so because like in any other extreme group, there are some feminists who fail to engage in self-critique.

Wag of the finger to Suzanne McCarthy. Men and women are simply geared differently. Biologically, this is rather obvious. Due to difference in muscle density, men are more suited to certain trade-crafts on average. Yet, this should not exclude women from trying to learn the craft -- I highly doubt there is any job that no woman in the world is capable of. The thing that comes closest, however, is being an announcer for a T.V. show (such as "LIVE from New York, it's Saturday Night!"). You just expect a baritone voice there.

Alright, but in all seriousness. We need to admit that differences exist between men and women that create what could be called tendencies. Males (or so I hear) have a greater tendency to be mathematically-oriented whereas females (or so I hear) tend to be language-oriented. Of course, exceptions exist. I know a female with a math degree, and I'll bet she can do math better than I can. She is quite good with languages, also. And you know what? She's not alone for taking the math-and-science path, or so the NY Times says. In fact, it may be completely incorrect to say that there is a tendency for women to be good at this and men at that. Perhaps, rather than literature itself, it is simply the way literacy is taught that females are more adept at.

As for a specific response to Sue: she feels that women are still disadvantaged because men make more money. In this situation, I would have to say that wisdom is worth far more than gold. I would far rather be an educated educator than a rich carpenter. Oh, and not just because education is a safer profession, but because it changes the world by changing people. And for one's own personal benefit, education is superior to money. After all, feminism didn't develop by women earning significant amounts of money; feminism gained momentum through influential writing, which is itself a product of good education. In other words, no education = no feminism. Yet between having an educated job with less pay and a less educated job with more pay, who really has the disadvantage?

In conclusion: look at the IWF's report and see how far behind boys are in education. This is too serious to ignore.