Colossians 1:11 κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ

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Colossians 1:11 κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ

Postby Andrew Chapman » October 14th, 2013, 8:13 am

11 ἐν πάσῃ δυνάμει δυναμούμενοι κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ εἰς πᾶσαν ὑπομονὴν καὶ μακροθυμίαν μετὰ χαρᾶς,

The preacher at a day conference at St Aldates Oxford a couple of weeks ago said that the usual translation 'according to His glorious power' is wrong and that it should be 'according to the power of His glory'.

All the nineteenth century commentators that I have looked at (Eadie, Ellicott, Meyer, ICCNT, Alford) agree with him. Dunn (NIGTC 1996) says that 'according to the might of his glory' = 'his glorious might' 'by a Semitism'. Most of the recent translations (eg ESV, HCSB, NET) seem to have gone back to 'His glorious power (or might) ' (as the AV, Luther etc).

It seems to me that there is a real difference between the thought that God's glory has power, on the one hand, and the less revelatory description of God's power as glorious.

Can anyone explain why this is not being translated more literally nowadays?

Thanks,

Andrew
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Re: Colossians 1:11 κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ

Postby Jonathan Robie » October 14th, 2013, 6:41 pm

Here is Meyer's commentary, for instance.

Anyone want to weigh in?

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Re: Colossians 1:11 κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ

Postby Andrew Chapman » October 15th, 2013, 10:43 am

Douglas Moo (Colossians and Philemon, 2008):

The translators are almost unanimous in using the adjective 'glorious' to qualify this divine might, echoing the opinion of most commentators [Bruce, Dunn] that δόξης should be construed as a qualitative genitive. But one might wonder if this interpretation gives appropriate value to the very significant word 'glory'. .. The English 'glorious' is too easily cast loose from this God-focused meaning.. It might then be preferable to take the genitive as possessive..


Bruce (Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, 1984) just has a footnote:

For this adjectival use of the genitive τῆς δόξης (a Hebraism) cf. Col. 1:27; Rom. 8:21; 2 Cor. 4:4, 6; Eph. 1:18; 3:16


Of these references, only Ephesians 3:16 has τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ, which is less easy to understand as a qualitative genitive, as Meyer and others pointed out:

ἵνα δῷ ὑμῖν κατὰ τὸ πλοῦτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ δυνάμει κραταιωθῆναι διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν ἔσω ἄνθρωπον,

and indeed in this case most modern translations (inc. NET, ESV, HCSB, also NASB etc) take this as a possessive genitive: 'according to the riches of his glory' or similar.

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Re: Colossians 1:11 κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ

Postby Ken M. Penner » October 15th, 2013, 9:26 pm

In Jewish Greek, a noun followed by τῆς δόξης followed by a possessive pronoun/adjective appears only in the "LXX" and Pseudepigrapha, not in Philo or Josephus.

Ps Sol 2:5 "The beauty of his glory has not prospered them" or "glorious beauty"
Ps Sol 11:7 "the garments of your glory" or "glorious garments"
Bar 5:2 "place the crown of the glory of the eternal one on your head" or "the glorious crown of the eternal one"
Bar 5:9 "in the light of his glory" of "in his glorious light"
Dan 3:52 "Blessed is the name of your glory" or "your glorious name"
Dan 4:10 built Babylon "for the honour of my glory" or "my glorious honour"
1En 9:4 "The throne of your glory stands" or "your glorious throne"
3 Macc 2:14 "dedicated to the name of your glory" or "your glorious name"
Pr Man 5 "the magnificence of your glory cannot be endured" or "your glorious magnificence"
Hellenstic Synagogal Prayers "the earth of your glory" or "your glorious earth"
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Re: Colossians 1:11 κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ

Postby Andrew Chapman » October 16th, 2013, 9:13 am

Thanks, Ken. Most, if not all, of these examples seem to me to beg the question, since I think it is not too hard to think of God's glory possessing honour, light, beauty etc. Even a name, perhaps, understood as reputation or fame. Thus Brenton translates Daniel 4:30 (not 4:10):

καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὕτη ἐστὶ βαβυλὼν ἡ μεγάλη ἣν ἐγὼ ᾠκοδόμησα καὶ οἶκος βασιλείας μου ἐν ἰσχύι κράτους μου κληθήσεται εἰς τιμὴν τῆς δόξης μου as:

the king answered and said, Is not this great Babylon, which I have built for a royal residence, by the might of my power, for the honour of my glory?

I found this also, from the ICC (Wilson 2005) regarding κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ:

..Moule (Idiom Book, 175) observes that 'it is a mistake to claim a Semitic Genitive where a good Greek Genitive makes better sense', and this may be a case in point: a simple literal translation makes perfectly good sense.'


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Re: Colossians 1:11 κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ

Postby David Lim » October 21st, 2013, 8:53 am

Andrew Chapman wrote:I found this also, from the ICC (Wilson 2005) regarding κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ:

..Moule (Idiom Book, 175) observes that 'it is a mistake to claim a Semitic Genitive where a good Greek Genitive makes better sense', and this may be a case in point: a simple literal translation makes perfectly good sense.'

One might suppose that "the might of his glory" really doesn't make too much sense in English, if for example one needs to explain it to a child. If we simply take the Greek genitive it does seem to imply "the might that is to his glory" which could then be interpreted as "his glorious might", which might explain the modern translations' choice. The choice of using the Greek genitive that way, however, may be a Hebrew kind of phrasing, I don't know. But the genitive certainly is flexible enough to accommodate that. For another example from Ken, "the earth of your glory" simply refers to "the earth that is for your glory", and in that case should not be rendered as "your glorious earth"...
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Re: Colossians 1:11 κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ

Postby Andrew Chapman » October 22nd, 2013, 8:20 am

One might suppose that "the might of his glory" really doesn't make too much sense in English, if for example one needs to explain it to a child


I agree that it's not a concept that fits naturally into our understanding, but perhaps we need to stretch our understanding to accomodate the divine revelation? I think of the fact that when God's glory appeared in the temple, the priests could not stand. In other words, it was stronger than they were, if one wanted to explain it to a child.

I just read Daniel Wallace on attributive genitives. I think I understand that if it were only τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης, then it would not be problematic to regard this as an attributive genitive - the attribute of glory is attributed to the head noun. As in the English 'rod of iron', say (I think Wallace classifies this as genitive of material but the idea is the same, I think).

However, when there is a chain (a concatenation) of genitives, then each noun in the genitive modifies the noun that precedes it, and one starts at the right as it were, and works back. So in the case of τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ, the personal pronoun should modify the glory - [url]His[/url] glory - first. But now 'His glory' does not work so easily as an attributive genitive, I think, which is why Meyer says 'not "His glorious power".. against which αὐτοῦ should have been a sufficient warning'.

This seems to be why F.F. Bruce and others suggest a Semitic influence. Zerwick says that the use of the attributive genitive is 'extended' in Biblical Greek because of Semitic influence, but goes on to say that:

This Semitic manner of speaking becomes even more alien to Greek idiom, if the possessive pronoun or a demonstrative which applies to the whole compound, and so to the qualified substantive, is put with the genitive that qualifies it


and gives several examples, including Matthew 19:28 'θρόνου δόξης αὐτοῦ', which he says = 'his glorious throne'. In a note he says that:

As a general rule, the Semitic languages add suffixes to the last member alone of compound expressions, even though they refer to the entire compound.


So I can see, in principle, how, owing to Semitic influence, the personal pronoun could come at the end of a chain of genitives in Biblical Greek, contrary to normal Greek grammar, . But I find it easier to understand how a good case can be made for Semitic influence on syntax in Matthew than in Paul, who I would have thought was sufficiently immersed in Greek culture and language to write in normal Greek.

Wallace's approach appears to be simply to abandon normal grammar for the case of δόξης:

Normally in gen. chains (a.k.a. concatenative genitives) each successive gen. modifies the one that precedes it, but there are many exceptions, especially with δόξης.


and I think this may be reflected in the NET Bible, for which he was New Testament editor, with τῆς δόξης being translated more frequently as 'glorious' in these concatenations of genitives, than in most other translations.

For example, in 2 Corinthians 4:6, for:

φωτισμὸν τῆς γνώσεως τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ

the NET Bible has 'the light of the glorious knowledge of God' whereas most translations have 'the light of the knowledge of the glory of God' [NASB], or somesuch.

In Romans 8:21, for:

ἀπὸ τῆς δουλείας τῆς φθορᾶς εἰς τὴν ἐλευθερίαν τῆς δόξης τῶν τέκνων τοῦ θεοῦ

many translations from the KJV onwards had 'the glorious liberty (or freedom) of the children of God',

causing Sanday and Headlam to comment:

δουλείας corresponds to ὑποτάγη , the state of subjection or thraldom to dissolution and decay. The opposite to this is the full and free development of all the powers which attends the state of δόξα. 'Glorious liberty' is a poor translation and does not express the idea : δόξα, ' the glorified state,' is the leading fact, not a subordinate fact, and έλευθερία is its characteristic, ' the liberty of the glory of the children of God.'


making the point that since τῆς φθορᾶς can not be attributive, it is unlikely that τῆς δόξης will be, if one is to get the force of the comparison: from the slavery of decay to the freedom of the glorified state.

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Re: Colossians 1:11 κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ

Postby cwconrad » October 22nd, 2013, 11:09 am

Andrew Chapman wrote:
One might suppose that "the might of his glory" really doesn't make too much sense in English, if for example one needs to explain it to a child


I agree that it's not a concept that fits naturally into our understanding, but perhaps we need to stretch our understanding to accomodate the divine revelation? I think of the fact that when God's glory appeared in the temple, the priests could not stand. In other words, it was stronger than they were, if one wanted to explain it to a child.


I'm leery of the notion that we can "stretch our understanding" like this. I am content to acknowledge that our current understanding of the text is incomplete without claiming more than that (1 Cor 13:12) ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην). At any rate, I think that we should restrict our explanations of how the Greek works to what we do now know (or can reasonably conjecture) and can offer each other an explanation about how Greek works.
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Re: Colossians 1:11 κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ

Postby David Lim » October 23rd, 2013, 4:59 am

Andrew Chapman wrote:I agree that it's not a concept that fits naturally into our understanding, but perhaps we need to stretch our understanding to accomodate the divine revelation?[...]

Besides what Carl said, we must also bear in mind that this forum is for all kinds of people with all kinds of faiths. So such a statement is a little over-assuming, and we should stick to what the text says clearly. Although I myself favour a very literal rendering of ancient texts over interpretive ones, which some here wouldn't even consider as valid translations, I was trying to explain how perhaps those interpretive translations understood the phrase in question, independent of whether I prefer their rendering. :)
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Re: Colossians 1:11 κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ

Postby Andrew Chapman » October 23rd, 2013, 10:27 am

Andrew Chapman wrote:I agree that it's not a concept that fits naturally into our understanding, but perhaps we need to stretch our understanding to accomodate the divine revelation?


I am sorry if this verged on the impertinent. I should probably have spoken for myself: I found 'the might of His glory' hard to understand at first, but having thought and prayed and meditated upon it, I believe I have now appreciated that in fact God's glory is strong and mighty. Although I am not at all qualified myself to come to a conclusion on the matter, I can observe that scholars have differed on how best to understand the text, and try to understand their reasoning. In particular, F. F. Bruce claimed that κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ is 'a Hebraism', and I would like to check that if I have understood correctly what he means by that, and to enquire as to the validity of his claim. Is it to do with the way nouns are joined in Hebrew in the construct relationship, apparently according to Zerwick, with the pronominal suffix attached to the last member? Is it plausible that Paul would have been influenced by Hebrew syntax when he wrote in Greek?

David Lim wrote: If we simply take the Greek genitive it does seem to imply "the might that is to his glory" ... "the earth of your glory" simply refers to "the earth that is for your glory"


I am not sure I understand this. I would have thought that 'to his glory' and 'for your glory' might be rendered by, say, εἰς, as in, for example:

εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης αὐτοῦ (Ephesians 1:12)

for us to be.. to the praise..

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