Here’s the question.
I find it worrying that the Passion Translation left out “Christ” in Phil 1:1-2. Out of interest does this translation ever mention the name Christ?
–New Zealand girl
In answer to her question, yes. I checked and the Passion Translation does use the title/name “Christ” in other places. It appears Simmons has chosen to replace the word
“Christ” in the first verse of Philippians with “the Anointed One.” The emphasis here would be on the anointing of Christ. This bend in interpretation might be forgivable in itself were there not a confusion that comes from the equivocation of the term and concept of “anointed/anointing” in the NAR worldview.
But there are deeper translation issues in these brief verses that should cause us to be concerned with the Passion Translation. First, before I list those issues, take a look at Philippians 1:1-2, as it is rendered in one of the major and legitimate Bible translations, the English Standard Version.
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now take a look at Simmons’ very different rendering of these same verses.
My name is Paul and I’m joined by my spiritual son, Timothy, both of us passionate servants of Jesus, the Anointed One. We write this letter to all His devoted followers in your city, including your pastors, and to all the servant-leaders of the church.
We decree over your lives the blessings of divine grace and supernatural peace that flow from God our wonderful Father, and our Anointed Messiah, the Lord Jesus.
Credit goes to my husband, Adam–who earned an M.Div. from Talbot School of Theology, where he studied Greek–for pointing out the following troubling issues with Simmons’ translation of these verses.
- The first line “my name is Paul and I’m joined by” is not in the Greek text. This is a colloquial paraphrase at best of the simple word “Paul” in Greek.
- Nowhere in Philippians 1:1-2 does Paul refer to Timothy as his “spiritual son.” Despite Simmons’ footnote referencing 1 Timothy 1:2, by what interpretive scheme can he loosey goosey import random passages from other books of Scripture as though they were part of the current verse?
- Where does he get the word “passionate” from as an adjective describing the word “servants?” Again, he’s importing a word that’s not in the text.
- How does Simmons defend his translation choice of “devoted followers” for the Greek word “hagios” which is typically rendered “saints” or “holy ones”?
- “Overseers” or “elders” seems to be a more direct translation of “episkopos” in this verse–so why does he choose the word “pastors”? There is a specific Greek word for shepherd/pastor, “poimein,” and it is, again, simply not in the text.
- Where does Simmons get the concept of “decree” in verse two? This is a clear instance of the importing of today’s NAR‘s theology of apostolic decrees.
- “Anointed Messiah”? It seems Simmons sometimes translates the word for Christ as “Anointed” and other times as “Messiah.” But here he puts both words, though only one word for Christ is in the Greek text. Is an anointed Messiah better than an unanointed Messiah? On what grounds did Simmons put in both terms, though there’s only one term in the text?
If you take a step back and look at what Simmons has done in these brief two verses, he has:
- added words that are not present, and
- pulled from another book of Scripture to overplay the “fatherhood/authority” of the apostle in view, and
- downplayed the “holiness or separateness” that the people in view are supposed to show, and
- downplayed the role of “overseers” (which might sound like they have actual authority in the local church!) by referring to them not as “overseers” but as “pastors,” and
- imported the NAR theology of apostolic decree, again to heighten the role of the “apostle” in a phrase that would have otherwise seemed like simply a benign and kind way to start to a letter.
The bottom line: the Simmons’ translation is twisting these verses to foist an unwarranted and overbearing view of the authoritative role of apostles.