Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

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Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

Coburn
Our pastor made a good point in today's sermon. He mentioned that the architecture of contemporary homes when Jesus was born featured a room for the family animals either next to or below the living quarters. And that the word "inn" appears only one other place in the NT, where it means "upper room." It got me thinking about other details of that text, such as the fact that most of the time when people are wrapped in strips of cloth and laid in a stone box, we call them mummies.

Anyway, I'd like to suggest modifying Luke 2.7 to read:

And she gave birth to a boy, her firstborn, and wrapped him up and laid him in a feed trough, because there was no place for them upstairs.

It is probably more literal to say "there was no place for them in the guest room," Fighting upstream against limited range of meaning and the need for the text to sound good. "Upstairs guest room" kind of covers the full range of meaning, but it breaks with the rhythmic feet of the line.

"Feed trough" or "feed box" is how we American farmers talk. That's it's name. You can't get much more downstairs than that.
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Re: Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

Brian J. Henry
Agreed! I like "guest room" a little more, but either works. It seems unclear to make it upstairs vs downstairs unless you're familiar with the architecture of the time.
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Re: Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

Timchambers
In reply to this post by Coburn
Merry Christmas!

To keep on with updates for the Christmas story in Luke 2, here is another suggestion:

 Luke 2:5 in the OEB reads:
 To be registered with Mary, his engaged wife, who was about to become a mother

More natural language to consider:

To be registered with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him, and was pregnant.
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Re: Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

Timchambers
In the OEB in Luke 2:6-8 it reads:

While they were there her time came, and she gave birth to her first child, a son. And because there was no room for them in the inn, she swathed him around and laid him in a manger. In that same country-side were shepherds out in the open fields, watching their flocks that night,

Consider the following that seems more accurate to the Greek. And I totally like Coburn's suggesiton for verse 7, but am suggesting a slight tweak of "lodging place" for "katalyma."

While they were there the time came for her to give birth, and she gave birth to a son, her firstborn.
And she gave birth to a boy, her firstborn, and wrapped him up and laid him in a feed trough, because there was no place for them in the lodging place. In that same region were shepherds out in the fields, watching their flocks that night,

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Re: Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

Timchambers
In the OEB, Luke 2:10-11 reads:

 “Have no fear,” the angel said. “For I bring you good news of a great joy in store for all the nation. This day there has been born to you, in the town of David, a Savior, who is Christ and Lord. And this will be the sign for you. You will find the infant swathed, and lying in a manger.”

Consider these fixes, attempting to be closer to the greek, or use more common current English terms, and more natural sentence structure:

The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! For look - I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For today there has been born to you, in the city of David, a Savior. He is the Christ, the Lord. And this will be the sign for you. You will find the infant wrapped in cloths, and lying in a feeding through.”
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Re: Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

Timchambers
In the OEB 2:13-15 it reads:

Then suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly Host, praising God, and singing —  “glory to God on high, And on earth peace among those in whom he finds pleasure.”
Now, when the angels had left them and gone back to heaven, the shepherds said to one another: “Let us go at once to Bethlehem, and see this thing that has happened, of which the Lord has told us.”


Consider this, attempting to be closer to the Greek, and more natural English:

Then suddenly there appeared with the angel a great number of the heavenly Host, praising God, and singing —  “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace to all who please Him!”
Now, when the angels had left them into the heavens, the shepherds said to one another: “Let us go at once to Bethlehem, and see this thing that has happened, of which the Lord has told us.”
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Re: Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

Timchambers
In the OEB, Luke 2:16-21 reads:

So they went quickly, and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in a manger; and, when they saw it, they told of all that had been said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds were astonished at their story, while Mary treasured up all that they said, and thought about it often in her thoughts. And the shepherds went back, giving glory and praise to God for all that they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Eight days after the birth of the child, when it was time to circumcise him, he received the name Jesus — the name given him by the angel before his conception.


Consider these tweaks, trying to be accurate to the greek and using modern language:

So they hurried off, and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in a feeding through. And when they saw it, they made known the message they had been told to them about the child. All who heard were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all that they said, mulling over them often in her heart. And the shepherds went back, giving glory and praise to God for all that they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
When eight days had gone by, and it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus — the name given him by the angel before he was conceived.


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Re: Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

Coburn
This post was updated on .
In reply to this post by Timchambers
Most of this material is very good. The language is current without being informal, and mostly follows the expectations of natural English diction. I have a couple suggestions.

Feed trough was my suggestion. It's quite an earthy word; maybe there is a more polite alternative. But I don't think we say feeding trough, even though the meter seems to call for another syllable.

Maybe take a look at this will be the sign for you. How would we say that to a friend? I would probably say this is what to look for, but that defocuses the translation. Does the angel mean a supernatural sign, or is he just giving good directions? I guess adding for you sounds awkward to me. Is there a smoother way to say it? Maybe it doesn't matter.

I had hoped there could be an alternative to "wrapped him in cloths." What is the concrete referent? I've heard that Jewish mamas were superstitious, and wrapped their babies in unisex cloths because you didn't want to buy boy clothes and have a girl, or vice versa. But that could be an urban legend. What is in view here? A [cth:nappy|us:diaper]? A blanket? Both? (Though I don't think strips of cloth is realistic, having changed many babies.) Could a better word be found?

Update: Maybe clean rags is an option.

I take issue with lodging place. I'd like to see the research on this, but my pastor said that the word καταλύματι means upper room. It's adding a cultural connotation to say guest room, and it's really stretching it, maybe beyond the bounds of what can be demonstrated historically, to say lodging place.

I appreciate the desire to "not go beyond what is written" or traditionally understood, but I'd like to point out that lodging place sounds like one of those expressions that we translate etymologically instead of finding the natural equivalent. Happens a lot in my job. What I mean is that nobody says "lodging place."

Basically, though, it's wonderful to see so much of the Christmas story coming through. I'm not a big  fan of some of the trappings of Christmas, but I love to read Luke 2 at this season. Thanks.
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Re: Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

Timchambers
Glad you liked and your suggestions all improved it. I'm totally good with "feed trough" vs "feeding through" and like it much more than "manger" a word other than in Christmas songs is not used.

And I totally agree with you that "lodging place" sounds odd and wooden. I was tying to find something to translate the greek word "katalyma" into but not "inn" which sounds way to modern to my ears, almost like a modern "hotel."

I saw one definition that used the word "guest chamber." But not sure that is any better. Maybe "guest room" is the best we have so far?

BTW here is one blogger looking at this very question:
http://sacrificium-laudis.blogspot.com/2008/12/because-there-was-no-room-for-them-in.html

On the question of "wrapped in cloths" the word in greek is "sparganoo" - http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4683&t=ESV"

The closest additional meaning I've been able to find is that this indicated straps of cloth, like bands. One commenter on the web wrote:

The phrase "wrapped in swaddling clothes" (KJV) or "cloths" (NIV) translates the Greek verb sparganoō, "to wrap in pieces of cloth used for swaddling infants, wrap up in cloths." Wikipedia thought so, too here:

"Probably the most famous record of swaddling is found in the New Testament concerning the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:6–2:7...Swaddling clothes described in the Bible consisted of a cloth tied together by bandage-like strips. After an infant was born, the umbilical cord was cut and tied, and then the baby was washed, rubbed with salt and oil, and wrapped with strips of cloth. These strips kept the newborn child warm and also ensured that the child's limbs would grow straight. Ezekiel 16:4 describes Israel as unswaddled, a metaphor for abandonment."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swaddling

Not clear it would be "rags" as that doesn't indicate the long strips of cloth used.

The Voice New Testament just translated it "wrapped in a blanket." Which as I look at it, is not so bad.
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Re: Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

Coburn
Thanks, guys.

I don't know much about all the details of this, but I did get a hold of the study which claims Jesus was born in a private home. Apparently the practice of "swaddling," however that was accomplished, is a local cultural practice. I didn't see any discussion of how that was done.

I think this study must be the original source for your blog link. He plagiarizes some of the wording.

I enjoy imagining what all that must have been like.

http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2008/11/08/the-manger-and-the-inn.aspx#Article

PS "Manners and Customs of the Bible" describes a method of wrapping babies in a blanket and securing it with strips of cloth. I was surprised. They just lay the baby diagonally on the blanket, fold it up over the feet, and then wrap the sides tightly around the baby. We always did that with our newborns! It reminds them of the close comfort of the womb. It helps them sleep.

http://www.bible-history.com/links.php?cat=39&sub=749&cat_name=Manners+%26+Customs&subcat_name=Swaddling+Clothes

And she gave birth to a boy, her firstborn, and wrapped him snugly in a blanket, and laid him in a feed trough, because there was no place for them in the guest room.
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Re: Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

russellallen
Administrator
This is a good passage to get right :)

With the suggested changes, plus a couple of mine, this is what Luke 2 now looks like. Bits in discussion in {}. 

HSBC has ‘feeding trough’ (not ‘feed trough’). Everyone else has ‘manger’ - the pull of tradition is strong in such a loved passage!
For swaddle, why not just ‘wrapped up’? 

\c 2
\p
\v 1 About that time an edict was issued by the Emperor Augustus that a census should be taken of the whole Empire.
\v 2 (This was the first census taken while Quirinius was Governor of Syria).
\v 3 Everyone went to his own town to be registered;
\v 4 among others Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem, the town of David, in Judea — because he belonged to the family and house of David —
\v 5 to be registered with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him, and was pregnant. 
\v 6 While they were there the time came for her to give birth.
\v 7 She gave birth to a boy, her firstborn, and { wrapped him up ? } and laid him in a feed trough, because there was no place for them in the { lodging place? guest room? }.
\v 8 In that region were shepherds out in the fields, watching their flocks that night,
\v 9 when an angel of the Lord suddenly stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were seized with fear.
\v 10 The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! For look - I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. { or ‘all people’ ? }
\v 11 For today there has been born to you, in the city of David, a [us:savior|cth:saviour], who is Christ and Lord. 
\v 12 And this will be the sign for you. You will find the infant wrapped in cloths, and lying in a feed trough.” 
\p
\v 13 Then suddenly there appeared with the angel a great number of the heavenly host, praising God, and singing —  
\q \v 14 “Glory to God in the highest, 
\q2 and on earth peace to all who please him!” 

I’m not sure about "all who please him”. It might give the flavour of  ‘everyone who manages to make him pleased’ rather than  ‘everyone about whom he feels pleased’.

How about “to all with whom he is pleased”?

But that is a bit clunky I guess.

\nb
\v 15 When the angels had left them { and returned ? } into the heavens, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go at once to Bethlehem, and see this thing that has happened, of which the Lord has told us.” 
\v 16 So they hurried off, and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in a feed trough. 
\v 17 And when they saw them, they made known the message that had been told to them about the child. 
\v 18 All who heard were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 
\v 19 But Mary treasured up all that they said, mulling over them often in her heart. 

mulling is the right meaning, feels a little odd but don’t know why. Maybe over-familiarity with ‘pondered’. Also I don’t idiomaticallly think/mull/ponder in my heart (except if we’re Mary in the Lucan birth narrative ;)

I think maybe we should go either with the traditional wording "and pondered them in her heart” or go with a idiomatic translation of the meaning, maybe: “and often thought of them” or similar (TEV has: ‘and thought deeply of them’ GWORD: ‘and always thought of them’, CEB: 'Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully.’)

\v 20 And the shepherds went back, giving glory and praise to God for all that they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 
\s ~
\p
\v 21 When eight days had gone by, and it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus — the name given him by the angel before he was conceived. 


Russell


On 20 Dec 2014, at 5:52 am, Coburn [via Open English Bible] <[hidden email]> wrote:

Thanks, guys.

I don't know much about all the details of this, but I did get a hold of the study which claims Jesus was born in a private home. Apparently the practice of "swaddling," however that was accomplished, is a local cultural practice. I didn't see any discussion of how that was done.

I think this study must be the original source for your blog link. He plagiarizes some of the wording.

I enjoy imagining what all that must have been like.

http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2008/11/08/the-manger-and-the-inn.aspx#Article


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Re: Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

Timchambers
Very good.... my thoughts where you had questions:

1. "Wrapped up" i think is a really good match for what the original greek seems to read.

2. My vote: "guest room." Seems the best we have come up with thus far.

3. I'd go with "all the people" - only as to my untrained eye, it seems like the greek had the equivalent of a "the" in the phrase. But true greek translators might tell us if that is functionally optional.

3. My vote: yes to  “to all with whom he is pleased” -   the question is what does this phrase mean: "anthrōpos eudokia" - might need more clear definition from greek translators, but it looks like "people who are favored" and your language is the more natural version of that.

4. I'd say "and returned" seems optional, and of no harm. The greek seems to read as in essence that the angels "left into heavens" but I think it is fine either with or without "returned."

5. My vote:  “and often thought of them” rather than pondered. Not sure why, but it feels like a less formal more natural term. And agree, better than "mulled."

Thanks! And I don't know about anyone else, but I found it personally spiritually positive and helped my Christmas to focus on these verses this week.

And hope you all have a great Christmas!
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Re: Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

Coburn
Timchambers wrote
Very good.... my thoughts where you had questions:

1. "Wrapped up" i think is a really good match for what the original greek seems to read.
Nice.

2. My vote: "guest room." Seems the best we have come up with thus far.
Nowadays, we say, "Because the spare bedroom was full." That would probably be appropriate for a more informal translation. I am thrilled with "guest room."


3. I'd go with "all the people" - only as to my untrained eye, it seems like the greek had the equivalent of a "the" in the phrase. But true greek translators might tell us if that is functionally optional.
Most likely this is a statement that is intended to resonate with the OT prophets. It is a calque of le-kol ha-goyim, "to all the nations." It is not right to say "everybody" because the intended sense is "all peoples and nations and tribes and tongues." Maybe "every people"?

3. My vote: yes to  “to all with whom he is pleased” -   the question is what does this phrase mean: "anthrōpos eudokia" - might need more clear definition from greek translators, but it looks like "people who are favored" and your language is the more natural version of that.
This is a difficult phrase, and my own earliest introduction to the ambiguities of Bible translation. Does it mean "To men of goodwill, (Arminian)" or "those upon whom his favor rests (Calvinist)"? Or is there a way to split the difference and be transparent with the ambiguity of the source? Say something like "Peace to those who reciprocate his favor"? Although that is wordy and awkward. Again, I'm looking for an OT precedent, involving ratzon, and I will do a search for it.

I would just say at this point that the OT narrative on the subject of "favor" is a two-way street. Those who live open, honest, and unselfish lives receive the Lord's favor. It is not salvific grace per se, but approval for a life well lived and for a heart that is receptive to the Holy Spirit. It foreshadows NT grace, which is why I am taking the time to review all this. I'm hoping the wording can bring out the sense that this is an angelic protoevangelion, the Gospel in a nutshell, involving both sovereign grace and free response. In two words, right?
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Re: Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

Coburn
Coburn wrote
Again, I'm looking for an OT precedent, involving ratzon, and I will do a search for it.
Ran across Psalm 145:16, which seems to be saying much the same thing:

In Hebrew, Poteach et-yadecha; u-masbiach l-kol-chai ratzon.

I read that as, "You open your hand; and satisfy every living thing with favor."

It's in the same context as the angelic announcement. "Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom," and "The Lord is gracious and merciful."

All I got time for right now.
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Re: Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

Coburn
Wait. This is so simple.

Bearing in mind that this was probably in Aramaic or Hebrew, I'd put it as, Honor be to God in the highest, and to all on earth who desire his approval, peace.

I'm translating anthropoi as "all" because that's the way the Hebrew idiom, le-kol iysh works. Not a big deal either way.

"who wish for his approval" is following Rm 2.7,10 in the context of Ex 33.19. The idea is that God is gracious to those who seek his approval, and is compassionate on those who beg for his mercy. It's reading between the lines, adding a word, to say desire his approval, but I think that's the sense of it.

What I'm trying to get across is that whether we are righteous or sinners, if we wish for his approval, it shows that we are awaking to the fact that "he has sent his son to be the savior of the world."
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Re: Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

russellallen
Administrator
I can’t resist the alliteration. How about:

\q “Glory to God in the highest, 
\q2 and to all who desire his good will on earth, peace.”

I quite like ‘desire’ though not sure if we can get away with it :)

But as usual or these passages the AV resonates with me - and is a lot less literal that people think it is:

\q “Glory to God in the highest, 
\q2 and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Russell

On 23 Dec 2014, at 6:09 am, Coburn [via Open English Bible] <[hidden email]> wrote:

Wait. This is so simple.

Bearing in mind that this was probably in Aramaic or Hebrew, I'd put it as, Honor be to God in the highest, and to all on earth who desire his approval, peace.

I'm translating anthropoi as "all" because that's the way the Hebrew idiom, le-kol iysh works. Not a big deal either way.

"who wish for his approval" is following Rm 2.7,10 in the context of Ex 33.19. The idea is that God is gracious to those who seek his approval, and is compassionate on those who beg for his mercy. It's reading between the lines, adding a word, to say desire hisapproval, but I think that's the sense of it.

What I'm trying to get across is that whether we are righteous or sinners, if we wish for his approval, it shows that we are awaking to the fact that "he has sent his son to be the savior of the world."


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Re: Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

Coburn
This post was updated on .
\q1 Glory to God in the highest,
\q2, and on earth, to all who desire his goodwill, peace.

Good timing. I'll carry that thought as we head to our Christmas Eve
candlelight service.

Update: As I think this over, "his" seems to be the idea that I've added to the text, rather than "desire (goodwill)." To all people of goodwill, peace is the closest I can get.
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Re: Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

Brian J. Henry
Coburn wrote
\q1 Glory to God in the highest,
\q2, and on earth, to all who desire his goodwill, peace.

Good timing. I'll carry that thought as we head to our Christmas Eve
candlelight service.

Update: As I think this over, "his" seems to be the idea that I've added to the text, rather than "desire (goodwill)." To all people of goodwill, peace is the closest I can get.
It flows a little better if "peace" doesn't end the sentence.

\q “Glory to God in the highest,
\q2 and on earth, peace to all people of good will.”
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Re: Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

Coburn
Brian J. Henry wrote
It flows a little better if "peace" doesn't end the sentence.

\q “Glory to God in the highest,
\q2 and on earth, peace to all people of good will.”
This angelic song sparkles like a star in the setting of the verse. It seems a shame to fall back on the historic traditions of its translation, without attempting to bring out some of the meaning that translation blurs. That's why I suggested saying something other than of good will.

My suggestion continues to be to all who wish good will. I think "of good will" is too generic. It allows one to postulate several non-true statements, the most important being that "God will make peace with people who merely desire to live a good life." And a statement this important that is translated too ambiguously does not pack any punch. It tends to be skimmed over instead.

While we're at it, why not make the translation of glory and highest a little more fine-grained?

\q "Let God be acclaimed in the high heavens,
\q2 and on earth, to all who wish good will, peace."

I think putting "peace" last still flows smoothly. It's a mild departure from the Greek word order, though word order does not mean exactly the same thing as in English, and I've tried to wrestle with that.

I guess as long as we're talking about this I just want to say, I would hope that the end result of this conversation is not a null change in the accessibility of the text. I hope it makes a positive contribution.

Thanks
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Re: Luke 2:7 (Merry Christmas!)

Brian J. Henry
Sorry, I thought you were suggesting "To all people of goodwill, peace" in your last post.

Singing "Glory to God in the highest...." every Sunday for quite a while, I guess I'm a little reluctant to let the first bit go. I don't feel like "Let God be acclaimed in the high heavens" really brings out anything more.

Also, not that I'm opposed to "all who wish goodwill," but doesn't it allow the same postulation of "God will make peace with people who merely desire to live a good life"?
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