I’m working on my study notes for 1 Corinthians 12, and I see a footnote that makes no sense. In verse 1, under “spiritual gifts” the ESV puts “or spiritual persons.” I did a double-take and decided to try and look that one up. It turns out that the word “gifts” or “persons” isn’t there at all. The word “spiritual” (ό πνευματικος, “ho pneumatikos” (!)) is a substantive. That is, it’s an adjective without any noun to modify. We don’t use those much at all in English, so they sound weird, and as a result, most translations add in a noun to make things read better. The older, more honest translations would indicate the words they added, usually with italics. Newer translations just blissfully add those words without any hint of what’s going on below the surface. I won’t tell you how I feel about this.
So, skimming off the wonderfully helpful Mounce Reverse-interlinear translation and the Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, here’s my shorthand translation of 1 Corinthians 12:1-11:
So: concerning the spiritual [things], brothers, I don’t want you to not know. You know that when you were gentiles, to mute idols as led you were led astray. Therefore I make known to you that none in the Spirit of God says, “I say accursed [is] Jesus” and none is able to say, “Lord Jesus!” except in the Holy Spirit.
So different gifts there are, but the same Spirit; and there are different services, but the same Lord; and there are different activities, but the same God acting all in all. So each [one] is given the display of the Spirit toward symphony. For surely through the Spirit is given a word of wisdom, but to another a word of knowledge from the same Spirit; to a different [one], faith in the same Spirit; to another, gifts of healing in the one Spirit; to another, activities of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, separation of spirits; to a different [one], [various] kinds of tongues; to a different [one], interpretation of tongues
So all these are done by one and the same Spirit, dividing his own to each as he is willing.
Anyway, it’s a hackneyed job. But it feels more accurate to the text than whatever it was I was reading.
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