2 Pet. 1:3 - translating the datives
2 Peter 1:3 ends with three datives:
ἰδίᾳ δόξῃ καὶ ἀρετῇWe know how to translate each word, but it is not clear what kind of dative these are. If they have the semantic role of instrument, is appropriate to introduce them with the English preposition "by". If these datives refer to destination or purpose, then it is appropriate to use the preposition "to." If they are datives of advantage, then we can use the preposition "for."
his own glory and goodness
Exegetes and Bible translators are divided over the semantic role of the datives that end 2 Peter 1:3.
English versions which translate these datives as instruments include:
that hath called us by virtue and glory (Wycliffe)Versions which translate the datives as destination or purpose include:
that called us by his own glory and virtue (ERV, ASV, WEB)
who called us by his own glory and goodness (NASB, NIV, TNIV, NRSV, REB)
who called us by his own glory and excellence (NET)
who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence (NLT)
called us by his glory and goodness (NCV)
who called us by his own glory and integrity (GW)
that hath called vs vnto glorie and vertue (Bishop's)I have not found any English Bible versions which translate as datives of advantage, but the NET Bible footnote refers to this option:
him that hath called us to glory and virtue (KJV)
who called us to his own glory and excellence (RSV, ESV, ISV)
who called us to share in his own glory and goodness (GNT/TEV)
he had invited us to share in his wonderful goodness (CEV)
The datives ἰδίᾳ δόξῃ καὶ ἀρετῇ (idia doxj kai aretj) could be taken either instrumentally (“by [means of] his own glory and excellence”) or advantage (“for [the benefit of] his own glory and excellence”). Both the connection with divine power and the textual variant found in several early and important witnesses (δία δόξης καὶ ἀρετῆς in p72 B 0209vid) argues for an instrumental meaning. The instrumental notion is also affirmed by the meaning of ἀρετῇ (“excellence”) in contexts that speak of God’s attributes (BDAG 130 s.v. ἀρετῇ 2 in fact defines it as “manifestation of divine power” in this verse).Often, when the biblical text is ambiguous (or, more accurately, unclear to us, although it may have had clear authorial intention), many advocate that its translation also be ambiguous. In this case (no pun intended!), however, that is not possible. There is no English wording that can ambiguously cover both the "by" and "to" meanings. Instead, each English Bible version, including the most literal ones, are worded with one exegetical option or another. None are left ambiguous.
The ESV translators chose to retain "to", chosen by the RSV translators, the same choice made by the translators of the Bishop's Bible, KJV, TEV, and CEV. Other English versions have "by" reflecting the interpretation that the dative is instrumental. Choices often *must* be made in translation. But when the alternatives are each valid, and/or when there is a textual alternative, as there is for the end of 2 Peter 1:3, it is good to footnote the option(s) not used in the text. That is what the NASB, NRSV, TEV, and ESV translators did, to their credit.