Dear Catholic Exchange,
Would you be kind enough to elucidate the correct translation of Luke 2: 14 and why the KJV is wrong? That is, if it is.
Dear Mr. Perez-Santalla,
Peace in Christ!
The KJV translates the passage, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” In doing so, the KJV translates the Greek word for “good will” in the nominative case; that is, the KJV understands “good will” (Greek word: “eudokias”) to be the subject of its clause. The translation of the KJV was finished in the early 1600s.
A Catholic translation of the same era is the Douay Rheims Version (DRV), which is based on the Church’s Latin Vulgate. The DRV relied on manuscripts that presented “good will” in the genitive case (“eudokia”). The genitive case can be described as creating an “of relationship” between two words, or as a case that describes a characteristic of a person, thing, etc. Thus, the DRV translation: “Glory to God in the highest: and on earth peace to men of good will.”
Ancient biblical codices, discovered after the KJV’s translation, support the genitive case translation put forth by the DRV, as they render the Greek word in Luke 2:14 as “eudokias,” not “eudokia.” Consequently, both Catholic and Protestant modern biblical translations support the genitive case translation. The Catholic translations include the New American Bible, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests”; and the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”
Protestant translations include the more scholarly New American Standard Bible, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased”; and the more paraphrased and popular New International Version, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
Given the scholarly consensus that the genitive case translation is the correct one regarding Luke 2:14, the question becomes who are the “men of good will,” or with whom God is “pleased,” or on whom “his favor rests”? Luke does not clarify in this passage, but we can make a conclusion based on the entire context of the Gospel of Luke in particular and Catholic doctrine in general. God offers the gift of salvation to all (1 Tim. 2:4, 2 Pet. 3:9), yet He is pleased with those who respond to His grace and become sons and daughters of God through Baptism and persevere thereafter, again relying on His grace to do so. The cognate verb of eudokia is used in Luke and the other synoptic gospels’ presentation of Jesus’ baptism. Similarly, God is “well-pleased” with His obedient divine Son (also translated that His “favor rests” on Jesus).
Please feel free to call us at 1-800-MY FAITH (693-2484) or email us with any further questions on this or any other subject. If you have found this service to be helpful, please consider a donation to CUF to help sustain this service. You can call the toll-free line, visit us at www.cuf.org, or send your contribution to the address below. Thank you for your support as we endeavor to “support, defend, and advance the efforts of the teaching Church.”
United in the Faith,
Thomas J. Nash
Senior Information Specialist
Catholics United for the Faith
827 North Fourth Street
Steubenville, OH 43952
Editor's Note: To submit a faith question to Catholic Exchange, email
href=”mailto:email@example.com”>firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that all email submitted to Catholic Exchange becomes the property of Catholic Exchange and may be published in this space. Published letters may be edited for length and clarity. Names and cities of letter writers may also be published. Email addresses of viewers will not normally be published.
IMPORTANT NOTICE TO OUR READERS
Catholic Exchange is free—but it is not free to produce. Advertising revenue covers only a fraction of the cost to generate reliably Catholic commentary and news, inspiring videos, a selection of the best Catholic blogs, and daily meditations and prayers.
To give us the strength and stability we need, Catholic Exchange is turning to you—our loyal reader—and asking you to become a monthly contributor.
Whether you can give $5 or $25, $50 or $100 each month, please leave something behind so we can continue—and strengthen—this important apostolate.
We are deeply grateful for one-time gifts, but we encourage you to choose “Monthly” on the drop-down menu. Your support will ensure that Catholic Exchange will be here during this most critical moment for the Church and America.