If with the tongues of humans,
I talk, and even of angels –
but love, I have not,
I am become a timbring gong
or a tinkling cymbal.

And if I have prophesy
and fathom all mysteries
and all knowledge
and if I have faith
to remove mountains

But do not have love

    I am nothing.

And if I give away all my belongings
And surrender my body to suffering
for the sake of self glory

But do not have love

    I gain nothing.

Love is generosity of spirit
Love is acts of kindness. Kindness in deed is love.

It does not envy


does not brag
does not puff up
does not act shamefully
does not seek self
does not get irritated
does not find fault

    does not delight at injustice
    but rejoices along with truth

always sustains
always trusts
always hopes
always supports


never fails.

Whether prophesies, they will be left aside
or tongues they will end
or knowledge it will be left aside.

For in part we know
and in part we prophesy
but when that which is complete comes the end comes
that which is in part will be left aside.

When I was a child
I talked like a child
I thought like a child
I argued like a child

    But when I became an adult
    The things of a child I left aside.

Now we see
through the looking glass
in riddles
but then face to face.

Now we know in part
But then we will know
Even as we are known.

As so remain faith, hope and love,
these three things
but the greatest of these



Commentary here.

4 thoughts on “Longanimity

  1. John says:

    I really like what you are trying to do. Plusses include a format that allows visual tracking, a choice of words that is unusual such that one is required to reread and ponder (a typical feature of poetry), and a sensitivity to sound orchestration such that the translation bears being read out loud.

    I also think it’s great that you want to render chiasms – the question is how.

    I don’t think chiastic word order works in English as it does in Hebrew or Greek, because English tolerates word order variation less.

    The two parts of a chiasm are on a hinge, so to speak, allowing the parts to fold together semantically. I could be wrong, but the best way to capture this in a case like the one noted below, albeit imperfectly, is with concordance of word order and formatting that joins the two parts and disjoins them from the context. Thus:

    Love is generosity of spirit
    Love is kindness in deed

    Timbring gong, to my ears, is too recherche’. The more traditional ‘clanging’ would seem to capture the sense better.

    1 Corinthians 13 is a text which merits ever new translations. The KJV is so familiar to those who grew up with it that that familiarity, while comforting, works against the text reaching us all over again.

    Thanks for this translation, Suzanne. The text came alive again through your efforts.

    John Hobbins

  2. Suzanne McCarthy says:


    I have a couple of other edits I want to do as well. I’ll change “when the end comes” – I don’t like that.

    I still like the “timbring gong” – somehow I will find that hard to give up.

    With word order I wanted to start out on the edge and work in, so I will probably change those too.

  3. D. Michael Gregg says:

    I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog lately. I just ran across this post. I love the style!

    I do like “kindness in deed is love” better–it sounded more poetic to my ear, even before I thought of it explicitly as chiastic.

    I wrote my own version of v4-8 a while back. I didn’t approach the Greek rhetoric from a literary angle. I tried to let the meanings of the words (interpretively) flower over, so most of the lines are doubled in my translation, with an affirmative and a negative translation.

    I had not noticed what you specifically point out about “longsuffering.” I will think on that. My paraphrase of the Greek there does turn out to be pretty descriptive of “generosity of spirit” in application. What does “generosity of spirit” look like to you?

    Do you mind if I quote you in the future? I love your translation and style. Do another for us will you?

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