This post is directly tied to Pastor and Thomas’ conversation in episode 18 about the proper translation of the Greek word “skubalon” used by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:8 (discussed in the broader context of the Christian approach to “cuss” words). Among Christians, Daniel B. Wallace is considered one if the premier Greek and New Testament scholars of our time; he wrote an article on this subject some years back, and it seemed right to link to it here.
For those who simply want to get the gist without reading Wallace’s entire article, I give you his conclusion:
In Phil 3:8, the best translation of skuvbala seems clearly to be from the [dung/excrement] definitions. The term conveys both revulsion and worthlessness in this context. In hellenistic Greek it seems to stand somewhere between “crap” and “s**t.” However, due to English sensibilities, and considering the readership (Christians), a softer term such as “dung” is most appropriate. The NET Bible, along with a few other translations, grasp the connotations here, while most modern translations only see the term as implying worthlessness. But Paul’s view of his former life is odious to him, as ours should be to us. The best translation, therefore, is one that picks up both worthlessness and revulsion, and probably a certain shock value.