Lectionary Year A
April 18, 1999
1 Peter 1:17-23

Step I: Rough Translation


The New Revised Standard Version uses inclusive language where it can, especially for groups of people, never for the deity, though. The NRSV is clear and accurate in most renderings. The only exceptions appear to be in verse 20 where NRSV translates, "He was destined". That term seems so final and irreversibly complete. "Chosen before hand" refers to the choice, which, theologically speaking is more significant than the destination or end of the destiny referred to.
The Revised Standard, in the apodosis of verse 17, translates, "conduct yourself with fear." That is a clearer translation than the NRSV's "live in reverent fear." It is also more conducive to the sense of the original Greek word "proegnOsmenou." In verse 20, the RSV reads "was made manifest at the end of the times. . ." NRSV's "was revealed" seems closer to the Greek word in the Textus Receptus, while the RSV's "end of the times" more carefully addresses the gravity of the process described in that context. In verse 21, the RSV calls it "confidence in God", rather than the NRSV's "trust in God." The latter seems more appropriate when referring to God. "Trust in God" tells a tale fuller of meaning than mere confidence in God. In the last verse of this text, both NRSV and RSV translate, "You have been born anew." That phraseology sounds almost trite, it is so popularly quoted by highly commercial evangelists.


Papyrus 72 adds "then" in verse 17. Textually it is weak to add it, yet, it could possibly appear in the original(s), for here it's a more difficult version. In English it is unnecessary to include it. The meaning is clear without it.
Even though many witnesses recommend it, it appears that changing the order of the last two words in verse 18 seems unnecessarily more like English than Greek. I add the article after the first word in verse 19, "alla", as do several witnesses, though minor ones at that.
In verse 20, changing "eschatou" to "eschatwn" makes too little difference to comply with the witnesses who support it.
Making "pistous" in verse 21 into a third person makes no sense, even if Papyrus 72 and several others suggest it. An article before "elpida", near the end of verse 21 confuses the meaning of the sentence and unbalances parallelism that seems significant to retain as written without considering any variant.
Verse 22 does not need an additional prepositional phrase before the word, "filadelfian." One suffices. Papyrus 72 and other reliable witnesses support staying with the text as received. Brotherly love from the heart seems adequate without adding "from a pure." Heartfelt love is intended. That concept gets adequately conveyed by the word "kardias," standing alone without modification.
The word "sporas" might seem redundant to those suggesting omitting it, but I choose to translate it as well as the word "fthartes" because over doing it reveals the force of the contrast intended between mortal parentage and the true source of new birth, the imperishable living and abiding Word of God. Changing the order of the words "zontos theou" could alter the meaning, but we have too little evidence to know how it was originally intended. I suppose I would settle with the NRSV and mention both possibilities at least in a footnote. Several emendations call for an additional extension of the concept "into eternity" at the end of verse 23. Unnecessary. This repetition is extending it too verbosely even for the verbose author of I Peter.


17 So, if the father you call upon (who) with impartiality judges according to each one's undertakings, in reverence, then, to the extent of the pilgrimage of yours conduct (impv.), 18 you have known that not by perishable things, like silver or gold, have you been redeemed from the worthlessness of your manner of life handed down by your ancestors, 19 but by the precious blood of a lamb without blemish and spotless Christ, 20 who was chosen beforehand on the one hand before the beginning of the world was revealed but to a lesser extent through you, 21 through him you have come to trust in God to raise from death whom you give glory so that faith of you and hope is to be in God. 22 So that the innermost being of yours in the obedience of the truth into brotherly love genuine from pure intention of one another you show (impv) constantly. 23 You have been given new birth not from parentage mortal but imperishable the word living of God and abiding.

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