Luke 2:1-7

1. At that time the Emperor Augustus ordered a census of the Roman Empire. 2. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3. All the people went to register in the cities where their ancestors had lived. 4. So Joseph went from Nazareth, a city in Galilee, to a Judean city called Bethlehem. Joseph, a descendant of King David, went to Bethlehem because David had been born there. 5. Joseph went there to register with Mary. She had been promised to him in marriage and was pregnant. 6. While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have her child. 7. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there wasn’t any room for them in the inn. (God’s Word translation; I’m re-visiting GW after getting some review copies from Baker Books recently; I’ll post more about GW in the future; for now, notice how nicely the English flows in this Christmas narrative)

4 thoughts on “Luke 2:1-7

  1. Joel H. says:

    Notice how nicely the English flows [in the GW translation]:

    3. All the people went to register in the cities where their ancestors had lived.

    It flows nicely, but it doesn’t seem to be what the Greek says.

    To start, what’s this about “ancestors” for [eis] tin eautou polin in verse 3?

    I think part of the story is that Joseph interprets “his own city” ([eis] tin eautou polin) as being Bethlehem even though he actually lived in Nazareth. I don’t think the text says that everyone did that.

    And I’m not even sure that Joseph chose Bethlehem because King David lived there (GW, v. 3) or was born there (GW, v. 4). Maybe ([eis] polin David) it was just one of David’s cities.

    These strike me as the sorts of problems that arise when translators focus too closely on crafting a final text they like, and not closely enough on making sure their translation stays faithful to the original.


  2. Theophrastus says:


    But first, one is reminded of an at least 2,010-year-old story about the Jew who dies and goes to heaven. He manages to get a few spare moments with God, who asks the man about his life (of course, the Almighty is supposed to be omniscient, but he can’t remember all the details all the time).

    “You see, Gottenyu,” the Jew says. “It was like this: I had this son, and one day the shmendrik decided to convert to Christianity.”

    “How very odd,” the Creator answers. “The same thing happened to me.”

    “So what did you do?” asks the Jew.

    “Why, it was simple,” God answers. “I wrote a new testament.”

  3. exegete77 says:

    The immediate predecessor of GW, known as GWN (1989), has this for vss. 3-4

    3 Everyone went to register, each to his own town.
    4 Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s town in Judea, which is called Bethlehem, because he was one of the descendants of David…

    I was very disappointed when the translation committee made so many changes in that 1989 edition. This is but one example.

    Rich Shields

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