Re: Anthropology & Colossians 3:12-15

From: Richard Lindeman (
Date: Wed Mar 04 1998 - 15:13:00 EST

>I think that the translation should be adapted to the reader's needs. The=
>translator might ask, of whom will the reading audience be composed of =
>primarily? For myself, I enjoy a mixture of literalness and dynamism. Oth=
>ers prefer readability. All of these factors must be taken into considera=

Yes, I agree that a great deal depends upon the intended audience.

>Here again, I propose a mixture. This is well illustrated by Col. 3:12ff.=
>For example: the Greek word SPLAGCNA if translated literally, could caus=
>e problems to the English reader. Since we don't often use the word "bowe=
>ls" in quite the way Paul is using it, there could be a misunderstanding.=

I don't object too much to the KJV rendering here of "bowels". This might
be confusing to a child,
but I would guess that most educated readers would prefer a more literal
translation here as it
gives them an opportunity to figure out the anthropology of biblical times
on their own. I dislike
the NIV translation of "compassion" here.

If I were to base a biblical anthropology entirely on Colossians then I
might conclude
that for Paul the bowels is primarily the seat of emotions and perhaps also
the source of our most noble
responses (mercy, kindness, humbleness, meekness, longsuffering,
forgiveness, and love) and that the
heart is primarily the seat of rationality.

>Conversely, KARDIAIS could be literally translated with minimal difficult=
>y. Oftentimes, English speakers talk about being "heartbroken," and moder=>
>n psychology even teaches us that the "emotional" and "logical" side of =>
>our brains are tied together by a ring of structures around the brain ste=
>m which ultimately have an effect on our bodies. Thus, when one is sadden=
>ed emotionally, the (literal) heart can also be affected. Yet, the heart =
>that pumps blood is not synonymous with the heart in which hE EIRHNE TOU =
>CRISTOU BRABEUETW. From a twentieth century paradigm, I am familiar with =
>this fact; I would suspect that most readers would be also.

>Edgar Foster
>Classical Languages Major

I'm not sure that I agree with you entirely here. In english we talk about
"Peace of mind" and "Peace of heart" and
mean two very different things. There is a peace that can be attached to our
emotions and another peace
which can be attached to the intelect. So I am a bit perplexed at how best
to translate Colossians 3:15. If I translate
let the peace of God "rule in your hearts", then will I not fool most
readers into an incorrect understand of this as being
a "peace of heart" when really in our own anthropology it might be better to
render this as a "peace of mind"? But then again,
perhaps I am just over analyzing the situation here or have a wrong
understanding of the Biblical anthropology.

Rich Lindeman

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