A few days ago I was checking an English translation of 2 Cor. 2:3. It ended with these words:
that my gladness would be for all of you
I had difficulty understanding that wording and so I flagged it for its translation team. Then I looked at other English versions to find out how they had translated the underlying Greek, which is itself not very clear. I was surprised to find that English versions split along an exegetical divide:
- Paul wanted the Corinthians to have the same joy that he did
- Paul wanted the joy of the Corinthians to make him joyful
Versions following option (1) include:
- that my joy is [the joy] of you all (KJV)
- that my joy would be the joy of you all (RSV, NRSV, ESV, NASB)
- for me to be happy is for all of you to be happy (REB)
- that you would all share my joy (NIV/TNIV)
- that my joy would be yours (NET)
- when I am happy, then all of you are happy too (TEV)
- whatever makes me happy also makes you happy (GW)
- that you would share my joy (NCV)
- that my joy is yours (HCSB)
- if I am happy, it means that all of you will be happy (The Source)
Versions following option (2) include:
- when you should make me feel happy (CEV)
- my joy comes from your being joyful (NLT)
If we simply counted versions, option 1 would win by majority rule. But exegesis can’t be determined just by voting. Some kinds of evidence may be more important than others. Sometimes a minority position eventually becomes a majority position.
We must also take into account internal evidence (such as logical flow) for understanding a passage: What makes most sense in the context? For me, it makes most sense for Paul to be saying that he wanted to be made happy by how the Corinthians responded to his previous instructions to them. But the Greek doesn’t tilt me one way or the other. In such a case, many say that we should leave an English translation “ambiguous” since the Greek is “ambiguous.” But I cannot think of a way to leave the English ambiguous in this case. (I’d like to hear from you if you can.) Sometimes, when translating, there is no way to leave a translation ambiguous when we are unsure what the source text meant. At a minimum, in such cases, I believe we should include a footnote explaining that the Greek could have two different meanings.
Do you think that the linguistic evidence in the Greek text tilts us more strongly toward option 1 or 2? And what leads you to think that if you do? And if you are not sure which option should be chosen in translation of 2 Cor. 2:3, what do you suggest an English translation have in its text and in its footnote?