In which I lose my ever loving mind over a quibble

So I’m reading my Bible, as one does in the morning, attempting to drown out other things in my life that are distracting and annoying me, while using Bible research tools that are far too powerful for mortal men to carry out casual devotional reading, and I come across 1 Peter 1 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible:

1 Peter 1:1–2 (HCSB): Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ:

To the temporary residents dispersed in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen…

I get distracted by “temporary residents.” Now, that should be something like “exiles” or “sojourners,” holders of temporary work visas, and here Holman has two words. So I’m curious about the Greek. I’m using Logos, so I can just click and tap, and sure enough, the original word is παρεπίδημος, alongside-home-er, an expat, an exile.

Just to verify, I flip over the ESV to see what another translation might say, and I see this:

1 Peter 1:1 (ESV): Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

Wait, elect exiles? Where did that other word come from? It sounds right. Did Holman drop a whole word? Are there textual variants? Let’s see another version. New American Standard has a reputation for being woodenly hyper-literal in its word-for-word approach.

1 Peter 1:1 (NAS): Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen

Oh, there it is: chosen/elect, right there at the end. But why does ESV put it at the beginning? Let’s see some Greek:

1 Peter 1:1 (SBLGNT): Πέτρος ἀπόστολος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐκλεκτοῖς παρεπιδήμοις διασπορᾶς Πόντου, Γαλατίας, Καππαδοκίας, Ἀσίας, καὶ Βιθυνίας,

Roughly translating… “Peter, apostle of Jesus Christ, [to] select expats, disbursed [of] Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.

Of course, I have serious style, so I automatically prefer my word-for-word translation. But more significantly, select and exiles go together because their endings match. That -ois ending means dative plural, and dative is the ending for indirect objects, as in “he threw the ball to Johnny,” or “this letter is to elect exiles.” Why you wanna split that phrase up, oh thou optimal equivalent Holman, thou literal New American?

It is because you are too dull for words, oh native English Reader, with no advanced training in Greek. We feared you would lose the plot by the time you got to verse two.

1 Peter 1:2 (HCSB): according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:2 (NAS): according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

Yah, I get it, O Bible translators. You are so wise. But “select sojourners” is an adjective phrase, and you’ve gone and changed “chosen” to a passive participle as the head of a new participle phrase. Why is that necessary? “According to” is κατὰ, a preposition. Were you so afraid we couldn’t jump back a few words and figure out what was being accordoned? Who else could it be but the audience of the letter?

So I’ve been reading HCSB for a while now because in general, it’s super-readable. But every once in a while, I am reminded that there are some definite advantages to the good old fashioned ESV.

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