I almost made a pretty big mistake the other day, because of a poor translation choice. Imagine you read the following somewhere, perhaps on a billboard, or a coffee mug:
Brahman is all in all
What would you think? Would there be much question as to what it meant?
The problem I faced was that I read in the Bible that God is all in all. I almost made the mistake of thinking the Bible taught pantheism. But no, I knew that could not be the case, and this phrase must have been used to mean something else.
This phrase occurs a couple of times in the NT. I read it in 1 Corinthians 15:28 in the ESV, though most English translations use the phrase. It’s pretty clear why they do, for it’s a simple literal translation of the Greek (παντα εν πασιν).
Is this good enough? I don’t think so. When a Bible translation like this could be mistaken for teaching pantheism it is a poor translation. It seems especially poor considering the context, where everything is put in subjection to God.
I’m not sure what the best translation would be. I’m not sure if this was a Greek idiom, or just a phrase Paul made up. But there are people who do know those things, and they have probably been involved in the creation of these translations. Lets just hope any future translations will find these flaws before they are published.
Here’s the NLT:
[God] will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere.
Now that is a much better translation. It doesn’t suggest heresy and it actually fits with the preceeding verses. I won’t say the NLT is necessarily correct, but at least they tried. The NCV isn’t too bad either.
For those interested in meaningless stats, Jesus does beat Brahman in the battle of Google search results, but not by much. Surprisingly Allah smashes them both, but I think that means something different again.