Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The JR translation of 1 Cor 6:12-20

OK so here is a translation I have done as part of my work on my thesis. This passage doesn't actually use 'the body of Christ' explicitly as a metaphor for the church (and neither does the nest one I will do). However I will be arguing that that metaphor is implicit in these verses. Compare it to your usual translation and let me know what you think. Translation is part science and part art, and doing this has made me realise just how hard the translation process is, it seems like every decision you make highlights one feature of the original text but obscures another, so you have to decide which features you think need to be prominent and which are permissible to obscure. Obviously the danger here for me is that I am highlighting the parts which support my thesis. Happily, I'm sure my supervisor will shoot me down in due course if that is the case! The parts in quotes are thought to be the Corinthian church's justifications for the actions that Paul is taking issue with.

1 Cor 6:12-20
“There are no rules for me,” but not everything is to your benefit. “There are no rules for me,” but I will not be ruled by anything. “Food is for the stomach and the stomach for food, and both will be destroyed by God.” But the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. For God has raised the Lord and through his power he will raise us. Don’t you know that your bodies are Christ’s body-parts? Then should I remove one of Christ’s body-parts and make it the body-part of a whore? No way! Don’t you know that when you join with a whore you are one body with her? For it is said: “The two will be one flesh.” But when you join with the Lord you are one spirit with him. Flee sexual immorality! All sin a man might do is outside the body except the sexually immoral man who sins against his own body. Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (in you!) which you have from God, and you are not yours. For the price has been paid for you, so you must praise God in your body.


  1. excellent sir! (As you know, I recently preached on this passage)

    I like the 'ruled by' ('mastered'), and SOoooo agree with including "and both will be destroyed by God" as a Corinthian slogan (makes so much more sense - given that Paul is arguing FROM the future resurrection hope - as opposed to rubbish-binning the body).

    I also like the choice of 'body-parts' (as opposed to 'members'), and 'praise' (from 'doxa', right?) as opposed to 'honour/glorify'...

    nice work :)

  2. However, meant to say that there might possibly be good reason for using 'all things are lawful' in v.12, etc. instead of 'there are no rules'; (I think it was Fee who noted that the Corinthians might be twisting some of Paul's own teaching on being 'free' from Jewish law...)??? maybe?

  3. last thing - I wondered if the closing preposition might possibly be 'with', instead of 'in'? (therefore, praise God with your body)

  4. Thanks for your comments old bean :-)

    like I said, you can't bring out everything in the text. So often there is simply no direct English translation. I wanted to bring out the word play of Paul's punch line - "I will not be ruled" and so was forced to do a looser translation of the Corinthian slogan. If you want some scholarly support for it try Thiselton's commentary. One of my beliefs about translation is that you should always take care to bring out the repetition of words using the same roots as this is an important key to emphasis and that it is worth making some sacrifices with the strictness of the translation on a word by word basis to reveal the thrust of Paul's argument.

    And the Greek at the end is most definatley 'in' so that was a fairly strict translation there. What you think Paul meant by that might well be a different matter. Thiselton translates as 'in your bodily life' which I think is a bridge too far.

  5. interesting - cool :)

    On bringing out repetition of words, etc. from original, I like to say (from 1 Cor 1:19) "I will destroy the sophistication of the sophisticated" :)

    ...and Col 1:29 ("...I labour, agonising according to the energy which He engergises in me with power") :)