Monday, January 01, 2018

Philippians 4:6-7 (NWT)

It is vain to criticize the NWT rendering of Phil 4:6-7: "and the peace of God that excels all thought." The 2013 revision states: "and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding . . ."

While Ralph Earle thinks the "correct translation" of hUPEREXW in 4:7 is "surpasses" (NASB) or "transcends" (NIV), he also writes that the word (according to G. Abbott-Smith's Lexicon) means: "rise above, surpass, excell" (page 848). So, as a literal translation, the NWT seemingly cannot be faulted in this area.

Some critics may also wish to castigate the wording, "thought" for Phil. 4:7. The Greek word used is NOUN. BDAG shows that the lexical form NOUS may refer to a "result of thinking, mind, thought, opinion, decree." But it lists Phil. 4:7 under 1b. (understanding, mind) and makes this comment: "Of the peace of God hH hUPEREXOUSA PANTA N[OUN]. which surpasses all power of thought Phil 4:7."

While the NWT uses "thought" in the translation, it does not seem that we can rightly denigrate NWT here. From past publications of the WTS, the word "thought" for Phil. 4:7 is best understood (in my opinion) as "human understanding." In other words, Jehovah's Witnesses have traditionally stated that the peace of God surpasses all human understanding--especially the comprehension of those who do not have such peace.

Moises Silva provides this example from Chrysostom, who feels that Phil. 4:7 refers to "that which our mind is not able to understand":


The word "thought" can refer to our faculty of thinking or power of reasoning in English. Thus I fail to see the problem some NWT critics have brought up respecting the 1984 rendering of Phil. 4:7.

No comments: