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Translation of Hebrews 1:1-4

I’m sorry that I haven’t posted a translation in a couple of weeks. It’s my own fault and I can tell that this one was a little tougher to do. I should’ve stuck with it better. Oh, well. There’s still plenty more NT and AF to translate (and LXX once I get one someday).

Per Dr. Black’s suggestion I took on Hebrews 1:1-4. It’s a neat little passage and perhaps the trickiest I’ve worked with so far. I’m planning on doing a diagrammatical analysis of the passage as well, but that will turn up tomorrow. There’s chores that need done here today.

As always, I’m going for a fairly literal translation, so keep that in mind as you read my work. Well, I hope you enjoy this.

Greek

My Translation

NET

1 Πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως πάλαι ὁ θεὸς λαλήσας τοῖς πατράσιν ἐν τοῖς προφήταις Long ago God spoke in many and various ways to the ancestors by the prophets. After God spoke long ago in various portions and in various ways to our ancestors through the prophets,
2 ἐπ᾽ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων ἐλάλησεν ἡμῖν ἐν υἱῷ, ὃν ἔθηκεν κληρονόμον πάντων, δι᾽ οὗ καὶ ἐποίησεν τοὺς αἰῶνας· Upon these last days He spoke to us by a Son, whom He made heir of all, through whom He also made the world. in these last days he has spoken to us in a son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he created the world.
3 ὃς ὢν ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης καὶ χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ, φέρων τε τὰ πάντα τῷ ῥήματι τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ, καθαρισμὸν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ποιησάμενος ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τῆς μεγαλωσύνης ἐν ὑψηλοῖς, This One being the radiance of His splendor and representation of His essence, bears all by His powerful word, having made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, The Son is the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence, and he sustains all things by his powerful word, and so when he had accomplished cleansing for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
4 τοσούτῳ κρείττων γενόμενος τῶν ἀγγέλων ὅσῳ διαφορώτερον παρ᾽ αὐτοὺς κεκληρονόμηκεν ὄνομα. having become so much better than the angels as He has obtained a more excellent name than theirs. Thus he became so far better than the angels as he has inherited a name superior to theirs.

I had to make a theological decision in v. 4. I’ll let you figure out what that was though. I thought the little rhyme at the beginning (Πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως πάλαι) was cool. Any thoughts on whether that was intentional? Of course, I am open to any criticism (good or bad) on my translation. It will only help me to be better in the future.

MSE

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18 Responses

  1. Not bad. But I would stick with epi + genitive at 1:2 as reference, “In reference tot he last days,” the traditional rendering. My take.

    • Good to know. I’ll have to check out a few more translations and see what they do with it. Anybody else want to weigh in on that one?

  2. Looking back through my notes, I tagged the ἐπ᾽ ἐσχάτου as a temporal genitive (Bruce, NICNT, 46, n.14). As far as v 4, I didn’t see it as reflexive; rather, being a deponent, I saw it as active: “having become superior to the angels” (genitive of comparison).

  3. The only different I see at the beginning of v.4 with your translation and the NET is style, not a difference in how the aorist participle is understood.

  4. In fragmentary fashion God spoke to our forefathers by the prophets…” — an attempt to communicate the alliteration with the Greek letter “pi” that you correctly observed (using the English f/ph sound.)

    Corny, I know….

  5. I love your anarthrous/qualitative “Son”! (Rather than “His Son” or “the Son.”)

    Like the prophets, Jesus spoke the Word of God. Unlike the prophets, Jesus was the Word of God.

    • Yes! I compared the text of v. 2 to what most of the translations said and I just couldn’t help but to break from them. “His” wasn’t there!

  6. That Dave Black certainly made things interesting. Sweet! 😀

  7. Matt:

    I wonder why the auctor uses a Semitism (“word of his power”) in the midst of such incredibly elevated Greek prose.

    “Majesty on high” might well qualify as another Semitism — perhaps an attempt to avoid using the Divine Name in this rather stereotypical expression? He could have just said “right hand of God.”

    Perhaps this master of Greek diction is trying to avoid over-characterization? Be like C. S. Lewis using “ain’t” to make a point — i.e., “I’m just an everyday guy like the rest of you.

    Oh the depths….!!

  8. Matt,

    Good stuff here. I did a post some time back on these verses. If you have time, check it out and let me know what you think.

    http://theologicalmusings.wordpress.com/2009/05/16/hebrews-1-1-4-a-brief-analysis/

    Cliff

    • Cliff, thanks for checking it out. I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. I’ve got some family in town and we’ve been busy all day. I will try my hardest to find time tomorrow to read your post. Thanks for letting me know about it.

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