Translating the genitive construction
The genitive construction occurs three times in the phrase the kingdom of the son of the love of him (Colossians 1:13). Since each genitive construction can convey 20 possible meanings, there could be as many as 8,000 (20x20x20) possible interpretations of such a phrase. However, the meaning of the nouns and their context reduce that number significantly.
In the Colossians text, none of the following translations rephrases the first genitive construction, the kingdom of the son. The translators apparently felt that the meaning is clear in that form. But most of the translations (even the King James Version) rephrase the second and third genitive constructions (the son of the love of him) to convey the meaning his dear Son, or the Son he loves.
the kingdom of his dear/beloved Son – KJV, NASV, RSV, TEV, CEV, NEB, GNC, NLT, Phillips, Source
the kingdom of the Son he loves – NIV, Jerusalem Bible, God’s Word, MessageThe New King James Version rephrases only the third genitive construction (the love of him) to convey the meaning His love:
the kingdom of the Son of His loveAs one can see, the more literal a translation is, the less clear and natural it tends to be. This is particularly evident in the literal translation of the Greek: the kingdom of the son of the love of him.
Categories: Bible translation, genitive, clarity, natural English