Earlier this week, I shared my freshly-revised, quality-controlled translation of Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians. And now, after more study, cross-checking, and personal consideration, I’m ready to share my translation of Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians.
This is now the third book in Asp’s Suggested Paraphrase of the Bible — or “The ASP” or short. As noted previously, going with a name like “The ASP” is tongue-in-cheek because I don’t want to take myself too seriously. But I did put a lot of time, study, and heart into this translation project.
I followed the exact same process for 2 Thessalonians that I followed for 1 Thessalonians: starting with the original text in Greek… using study resources to fill in the gaps in my knowledge… and establishing a literal translation that didn’t read very smoothly. After that, I would create my own idiomatic translation (or paraphrase) of the text, often while referencing other translations. I leaned especially on the English Standard Version, the New Living Translation, and the New International Version. To further polish my first-draft translation, I compared my translation with several other translations including the King James Version, the Holman Christian Standard Bible, The Voice, The Message, and the (Dutch) Nieuwe Bijbel Vertaling. And after one final reading, out-loud, to check for readability and cadence, I created the time-stamped PDF that I’m now sharing with others.
My ASP is far from perfect. In fact, I reserve the right to edit, update, and amend my version of 2 Thessalonians as my knowledge of Greek, my relationship with God, and my general life of faith might dictate in the years to come. But for whatever it’s worth, you are welcome to download this version of 2 Thessalonians (or “To the Thessalonians B,” as it’s literally named in the Greek), for your own study and enjoyment:
With each of these translations that I’ve posted here on my website, I’ve included a few little notes on what I learned in the process of translation. I won’t post as many of the linguistic observations this time (since 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians are so closely related in content and structure, and since my translation process and timeline was so similar). But for whatever it’s worth, here are some things I noticed about — and some favorite excerpts from — my translation of 2 Thessalonians:
- In both 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians, I’ve been really intrigued by variations on the Greek word θλῖψιν (“Thlipsin”). It’s a word that comes up pretty frequently in Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians — though I haven’t really noticed it in other parts of the New Testament that I’ve studied. The word has been translated as “affliction” or “trouble” or “difficulty,” and I think those are all fair translations. For my translation of this word, however, I deliberated between “stress” and “pressure.” I liked the way that both of these words relate to the literal meaning of the Greek word, and I like the way that stresses and pressures can have negative and positive implications for our lives. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7 is a good example of where I tried to maintain consistency in my translation to show the shades of meaning that a single word can have in different contexts.
- 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7 (ASP) – “God is just, for sure, and he will ensure payback for all those who pressed in on you guys with pressures of their own. He will also relieve your pressures — and ours — when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven with his mighty angels.”
- Another intriguing translation puzzle for me was the Apocalyptic figure referenced in the beginning of Chapter Two. Other translations have called him the “man of lawlessness” or “man of great sin,” and again I’m not going to call either of those translation choices into question. But I thought about it for awhile and ultimately decided to call him “The Great Anarchist.” It takes some liberties, making it a sort of proper name or title. But I think it actually gets pretty close to the feel of the figure, as described in the Greek. Only after the fact did I learn that Eugene Peterson made a similar choice for his translation in The Message (some will like that; others will not).
- 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 (ASP) – But we’re begging you guys, our dear family of faith, when it comes to being reunited with our Lord Jesus Christ — don’t be so quick to be agitated or alarmed at the suggestion that the Day of the Lord has arrived, whether such a suggestion comes through a spirit, or through something somebody says, or through a letter like we would send you. Don’t let yourselves be deceived by any sort of trickery. That day won’t come until after there’s been a rebellion and the Great Anarchist — the Son of Destruction — has stepped forward. This antagonist will exalt himself over all gods and all objects of worship in order to prompt his own coronation in the temple, crowning himself as God.
- You may have even noticed at the beginning of the excerpt above that I also tried to be creative in the way that I dealt with Paul’s frequent sense of the imperative throughout 2 Thessalonians. “We appeal to you to” or “We command you to” felt too formal, not familial enough for the context of the rest of the letter. So I tried out a few different things like “We’re begging you guys to” or “We need you guys to.” I think it’s a close (though not exact) equivalent to the original Greek, but I definitely used some subjectivity there.
Anyway, I’d love to hear any reflections you might have, if you give the ASP a read. Whether you’re a Greek expert or not, I really believe it will be helpful to get other perspectives. With the caveat that I reserve the right to edit, update, and amend my version of 1 Thessalonians, as my knowledge of Greek, my relationship with God, and my general life of faith might dictate in the years to come — I’m excited to put this out there.
May God bless the reading of His Word!