While reading Romans 5 today I was struck with something that I had never seen before in verse 3. At the end of verse 2, Paul says, “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Then in verse 3 he says, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings.” We rejoice more in our sufferings than in the hope of the glory of God? Hmm. Why had I missed that all the previous times I read through Romans? I was curious. I immediately went to the Greek, which reads, “καυχώμεθα ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ. οὐ μόνον δέ, ἀλλὰ καὶ καυχώμεθα ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσιν.” The phrase οὐ μόνον δέ, ἀλλὰ καὶ would be literally translated, “And not only [this], but we also . . . .” So Paul is not saying that we rejoice in sufferings more than we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory. He’s simply saying we also rejoice in sufferings.
The ESV’s translation could simply mean something like this, “We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. But there’s more [or what’s more], we also rejoice in sufferings.” In other words, I think they are just using an idiomatic expression to communicate that there is something else, something additional, that we rejoice in. But I do think there is considerable potential to confuse, rather than clarify, by using this expression. Both expressions I used to clarify their meaning, would, in my opinion, be better than more than that (unless, perhaps, they really are trying to communicate that we should rejoice in our sufferings more than in the hope of God’s glory; but I don’t think the Greek supports such an idea, nor do I think that that’s what they intended).
Still curious I checked the other major English translations. None but one translated it the way the ESV does. You guessed it: the RSV. (Interestingly, the NRSV corrects this.) All the others have a more literal translation here: not only that or not only so. I love the ESV, but here’s an example of where I don’t like their translation choice. The literal translation would work just fine and, in my opinion, would be quite a bit better, for the simple reason that there’s only one way to interpret it—the right way! (Cf. verse 11 where they do the exact same thing. This time, the translation more than that occurs in the ESV, the RSV, and the NRSV.)
Am I missing something here? I’d appreciate any feedback if you see something obvious that I’ve simply overlooked.