Philippians 2:6-11, as poetry

In God’s own form existed he,
And shared with God equality,
Deemed nothing needed grasping.
Instead, poured out in emptiness,
A servant’s form did he possess,
A mortal man becoming.
In human form he chose to be,
And lived in all humility,
Death on a cross obeying.
Now lifted up by God to heaven,
A name above all others given,
This matchless name possessing.
And so, when Jesus’ name is called,
The knees of everyone should fall
Where’er they are residing.
Then every tongue in one accord,
Will say that Jesus Christ is Lord,
While God the Father praising.

Philippians 2:6-11, ISV

For comparison:

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. King James Version

I like the idea of the passage being rendered as poetry, if indeed that is how the Greek is. Though I dislike the liberties taken with the text in doing so. “Where’er they are residing” replaces, “of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth,” for example. I actively disbelieve in the idea that God’s Word should be translated idiomatically for the simple reason that inspiration extends to the very words used by the prophets, apostles, and others in penning the Scriptures. I believe effort should be taken in any translation to accurately reflect those words in English in as literal a manner as possible, lest interpretation creep in, masquerading as translation.

Any poets out there think they can render the poem from Philippians in a more faithful manner? :-)

One thought on “Philippians 2:6-11, as poetry

  1. Lawrence Bednar says:

    Philippians 2:6-11, ISV

    English-type poetry exhibited here in the ISV is quite rare and fragmentary in the Greek, which refutes any validity of this extensive ISV poetry. Further, differences here from the literal Greek produce notable mistranslation, a situation far removed from the exact equivalence concept of the 1611 & 1769 KJV editions that I noted earlier on this website. Indeed, the ISV here is as much an example of inaccurate paraphrase as it is of illegitimate Greek poetry, illustrating the lack of reverence by modern scholars for the literal biblical language.

    The critical-text Greek in this passage is quite similar to that of the Received Text, and readers unacquainted with Greek can compare the ISV with the KJV in order to understand all the problems in the ISV rendering of its own Greek textual basis. Some of the mistranslation caused by imposing a poetic form is noted below. New Testament Greek simply cannot be subjected to a foreign poetic style.

    6. In God’s own form existed he,

    and shared with God equality,
    – This omits the sense that equality was not robbery of God

    deemed nothing needed grasping.
    – No – this is an added non-literal idea

    7. Instead, poured out in emptiness,
    – No – He was not poured out, but emptied Himself

    a servant’s form did he possess,
    – Better – “did He take,” which removes the rhyme

    a mortal man becoming.
    Absolutely not – should say, in the likeness of mortal man

    In human form he chose to be,
    – True but this replaces the preceding clause above
    8. and lived in all humility,
    No – Could refer to imposed humility – He humbled Himself

    death on a cross obeying.
    No -He didn’t obey death – Was obedient unto His own death

    9. Now lifted up by God to heaven,
    No – Misses the Greek – God gave Him a supreme status

    a name above all others given,
    -True, but this replaces the preceding clause

    this matchless name possessing.
    – An unjustified repeat of the sense of the Greek above

    10. And so, when Jesus’ name is called,

    the knees of everyone should fall,
    – Poor – The sense is that at the name of Jesus we worship

    wherever they’re residing.
    – Non-literal in the extreme – omits several Greek words

    11. Then every tongue in one accord,
    – “in one accord” not justified by the Greek

    will say that Jesus the Messiah is Lord,
    – “Messiah” not in the Greek

    while God the Father praising.
    Better – “glorifying” rather than “praising”

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