My Translation of Luke 2:1-20

Last year before Christmas I translated the nativity story from Luke 2:1-20 from Greek into English because I thought I was up to it. My family and I read it together on Christmas Eve, which was kind of neat, but I never showed it to anyone else. I decided to publish it here in time for this Christmas, so here it is. This is not exactly what I did last year; as I was reading through it I noticed a few places where I wasn’t as correct or as fluid as I would have liked, so I revised it here and there. It’s much better now than it was, IMO.

You will notice that Luke 2:14 does not end with the familar, “… and on earth, peace, good will toward men,” that the KJV renders. To truly understand why, you’ll need to do some reading about textual criticism and different manuscript traditions. The short answer is that the KJV translators used the Textus Receptus, which had the word εὐδοκία (in the nominative, or subject, case) and most other translators used older, more reliable, manuscripts which have the word εὐδοκίας (in the genitive case). That may not make sense, but the addition of one letter makes an enormous difference in how it is translated.

I would also like to point out that in verse 16, the word ἀνεῦραν, the aorist form of the verb ἀνευρίσκω, means “to find by diligent search.” I could not think of a good way to really express this, yet still sound good to the ear. I wrote before about this word and how simply translating it as “found” seems to lose the nuance of the original. To find something could simply mean that one saw it or stumbled upon it. But to “find by diligent search” implies a certain amount of effort. In the end, I came down on the side of sonority, and joined most other translators in simply using “found.”

So, with that said, here it is. As before, I’ll show it twice. First, split into verses with the Greek and then the English. And finally, just the English, in nice paragraph form. If your browser is not showing you the proper Greek letters, you can download a PDF of the whole thing by clicking here.

Κατα Λουκαν 2:1 – 20 — Luke 2: 1 – 20

1Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις ἐξῆλθεν δόγμα παρὰ Καίσαρος Αὐγούστου ἀπογράφεσθαι πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην.
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus for all the world to be registered.
2αὕτη ἀπογραφὴ πρώτη ἐγένετο ἡγεμονεύοντος τῆς Συρίας Κυρηνίου.
This first registration came about while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3καὶ ἐπορεύοντο πάντες ἀπογράφεσθαι, ἕκαστος εἰς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ πόλιν.
And everyone went to be registered, each into his own city.
4Ἀνέβη δὲ καὶ Ἰωσὴφ ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας ἐκ πόλεως Ναζαρὲθ εἰς τὴν Ἰουδαίαν εἰς πόλιν Δαυὶδ ἥτις καλεῖται Βηθλέεμ, διὰ τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν ἐξ οἴκου καὶ πατριᾶς Δαυίδ,
And Joseph also went up from Galilee from the city of Nazareth into Judea into the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,
5ἀπογράψασθαι σὺν Μαριὰμ τῇ ἐμνηστευμένῃ αὐτῷ, οὔσῃ ἐγκύῳ.
to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, and she being with child.
6ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἐκεῖ ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ τεκεῖν αὐτήν,
And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth,
7καὶ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον, καὶ ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτὸν καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν φάτνῃ, διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι.
And she gave birth to her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8Καὶ ποιμένες ἦσαν ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ τῇ αὐτῇ ἀγραυλοῦντες καὶ φυλάσσοντες φυλακὰς τῆς νυκτὸς ἐπὶ τὴν ποίμνην αὐτῶν.
And there were shepherds in the same region, staying out in the field and keeping watch over their flock by night.
9καὶ ἄγγελος κυρίου ἐπέστη αὐτοῖς καὶ δόξα κυρίου περιέλαμψεν αὐτούς, καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν φόβον μέγαν.
And an angel of the Lord came to them suddenly and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terribly afraid.
10καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ ἄγγελος, Μὴ φοβεῖσθε, ἰδοὺ γὰρ εὐαγγελίζομαι ὑμῖν χαρὰν μεγάλην ἥτις ἔσται παντὶ τῷ λαῷ,
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold I bring you good news of great joy which is to be for all the people,
11ὅτι ἐτέχθη ὑμῖν σήμερον σωτὴρ ὅς ἐστιν Χριστὸς κύριος ἐν πόλει Δαυίδ.
For born to you this very day, in the city of David, is a savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12καὶ τοῦτο ὑμῖν τὸ σημεῖον, εὑρήσετε βρέφος ἐσπαργανωμένον καὶ κείμενον ἐν φάτνῃ.
And this is a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”
13καὶ ἐξαίφνης ἐγένετο σὺν τῷ ἀγγέλῳ πλῆθος στρατιᾶς οὐρανίου αἰνούντων τὸν θεὸν καὶ λεγόντων,
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις θεῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among men of his favor.”
15Καὶ ἐγένετο ὡς ἀπῆλθον ἀπ᾽ αὐτῶν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν οἱ ἄγγελοι, οἱ ποιμένες ἐλάλουν πρὸς ἀλλήλους, Διέλθωμεν δὴ ἕως Βηθλέεμ καὶ ἴδωμεν τὸ ῥῆμα τοῦτο τὸ γεγονὸς ὅ ὁ κὐριος ἐγνώρισεν ἡμῖν.
And it happened as the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds were saying to one another, “Now let us proceed unto Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to be, which the Lord has made known to us.”
16καὶ ἦλθαν σπεύσαντες καὶ ἀνεῦραν τήν τε Μαριὰμ καὶ τὸν Ἰωσὴφ καὶ τὀ φρέφος κείμενον ἐν τῇ φατνῃ,
And they went quickly and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby, lying in a manger,
17ἰδόντες δὲ ἐγνώρισαν περὶ τοῦ ῥήματος τοῦ λαληθέντος αὐτοῖς περὶ τοῦ παιδίου τούτου.
and after seeing this they made known to them the saying which was spoken to them concerning this child.
18καὶ πάντες οἱ ἀκούσαντες ἐθαύμασαν περὶ τῶν λαληθέντων ὑπὸ τῶν ποιμένων πρὸς αὐτοὐς·
And all who heard wondered at what was said to them by the shepherds;
19ἡ δὲ Μαριὰμ πάντα συνετήρει τὰ ῥήματα ταῦτα συμβάλλουσα ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτῆς.
But Mary closely kept all these sayings, pondering upon them in her heart.
20καὶ ὑπέστρεψαν οἱ ποιμένες δοξάζοντες καὶ αἰνοῦντες τὸν θεὸν ἐπὶ πᾶσιν οἷς ἤκουσαν καὶ εἶδον χαθὼς ἐλαλήθη πρὸς αὐτούς.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, at is had been told to them.

Luke 2: 1 – 20

1And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus for all the world to be registered. 2This first registration came about while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3And everyone went to be registered, each into his own city. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee from the city of Nazareth into Judea into the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, and she being with child. 6And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth, 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8And there were shepherds in the same region, staying out in the field and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And an angel of the Lord came to them suddenly and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terribly afraid. 10And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold I bring you good news of great joy which is to be for all the people, 11For born to you this very day, in the city of David, is a savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12And this is a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among men of his favor.” 15And it happened as the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds were saying to one another, “Now let us proceed unto Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to be, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16And they went quickly and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby, lying in a manger, 17and after seeing this they made known to them the saying which was spoken to them concerning this child. 18And all who heard wondered at what was said to them by the shepherds; 19But Mary closely kept all these sayings, pondering upon them in her heart. 20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, at is had been told to them.

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6 thoughts on “My Translation of Luke 2:1-20

  1. That was excellent! I really enjoyed reading your translation. I except you to have the rest of the New Testament done before WordCamp Birmingham next year!

    • Thanks, Blake. It wasn’t too different from what you might find in most any bible, but it was done with love, and that’s something, eh? 😉 As far as the rest of the NT goes… yeah, I’ll get right on that.

  2. Nice work, sir. I do prefer your “peace among men of his favor” to the NAB’s “peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, does it? 🙂

  3. And a question for you: does “Glory to God in the highest” mean ‘glory to the highest degree,’ or something like ‘in the highest heaven,’ which I’ve also seen?

    • I read it as a matter of degree, though I have recently read discussions in which the argument is made for “highest heaven.” My lexicon lists degree as its first definition, and based on my current level of accomplishment in Greek, I’m going to go with that. 🙂

  4. Pingback: My Lenten Project: Reading Luke In Greek | Joey Gibson's Blog

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