Paul, a slave of Jesus Messiah, called to be an apostle, set apart for the Joyful News of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures; 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was installed as Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness, by his resurrection from the dead; Jesus Messiah our Lord. 5 Through him I have received kindness and been appointed as an emissary to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles,6 including yourselves who are called through Jesus Messiah, for the sake of his name.
7 To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be holy people
Kindness to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Messiah.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Messiah for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world. 9 For God, whom I serve with my spirit by announcing the Joyful News of his Son, is my witness that without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers, 10 asking that by God’s will I may somehow at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you, as I have among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish 15 —hence my eagerness to proclaim the Joyful News to you also who are in Rome.
16 For I am not ashamed of the Joyful News; it is the power of God’s rescue to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the saving justice of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The just person will live by faith.”
Today I begin a new blogging journey, in this case through Paul’s letter to Romans, which is maybe the most interpreted piece of writing in the world, with the possible exception of the noble Qur’an. I think that this letter was written by Paul from Ephesos, around the same time as the Letter to Philemon, before he departed on his last visit to Jerusalem with the proceeds of his collection for the Jerusalem poor. I also think that chapter 16 of this letter is misplaced from an otherwise unknown short letter to Ephesians.
My first concern is translation. The original Greek has its moments of splendour, but more commonly piles up explanatory clauses which are reasonably clear in an inflected language but need clarified in English. It is also difficult to avoid overemphasis on what have become keenly debated terms in Paul’s theology. The translation given above is the NRSV version as corrected by me. It reads like the output of a constipated computer, punctuated by farts of theological certainty.
Obviously this is a betrayal of Paul. J.B Philips many years back recognised this betrayal and provided his Letters to Young Churches, which still reads well, but is hampered by a kind of middle class cosyness. Most modern translations are concerned to protect a protestant interpretation of Paul.
So my conclusion is that I will have to provide my own version for better or worse, and will embark on this difficult task tomorrow.