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Luke 2:14 Young's Literal Translation 'Glory in the highest to God, and upon earth peace, among men -- good will.'

Young's Literal Translation indicates unqualified peace of earth.

New International Version "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

New International Version indicates peace to a certain group of people.

Which is correct?

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As the OP has observed, there are two types of translation of Luke 2:14, the last phrase. Either:

  • A: "among men with whom He is pleased". (eg, NIV, NLT, NASB, BSB, etc)

or

  • B: "good will toward men". (eg, KJV, NKJV, YLT, etc)

The difference between these two is a single letter in the original Greek text of the final word:

  • A: εὐδοκίας (= genitive of "good will")
  • B: εὐδοκία (= nominative of "good will")

The earliest and oldest MSS uniformly have option "A" above, as do most of the early church fathers. Option "B" appears in the Byzantine tradition and some of the earlier MSS have been altered by a later hand to remove the final sigma. For a complete list of which MSS have which reading, their dates, etc, see UBS4, UBS5, etc.

Bruce M Metzger in his "Textual Commentary on the GNT" says this:

The difference ... is not merely a matter of exegesis of the meaning of the Greek, but is first of all one of textual criticism. Does the Angelic Hymn close with εὐδοκία or εὐδοκίας?

The genative case [A above], which is the more difficult reading, is supported by the oldest representatives of the Alexandrian and Western groups of witnesses. The rise of the nominative reading [B above] can be explained either as an amelioration of the sense or as a palaeographical oversight (at the end of a line εὐδοκίας would differ from εὐδοκία by the presence of the smallest possible lunar sigma ...)

The meaning seems to be, not that divine peace can be bestowed only where human good will is already present, but that at the birth of the Saviour God's peace rests on those whom he has chosen in accord with his good pleasure. [FN: It should be noted that the Sahidic version employs the possessive pronoun, "And peace upon earth among men of his desire[pleasure]".] Prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls it was sometimes argued that "men of [God's] good pleasure" is an unusual, if not impossible, expression in Hebrew. Now, however, that equivalent expressions have turned up in Hebrew in several Qumran Hymns ("the sons of his [God's] good pleasure,"1 QH iv.32 f.; xi.9; and "the elect of his [God's] good pleasure," viii.6), it can be regarded as a genuinely Semitic construction in a section of Luke (chaps. 1 and 2) characterized by Semitizing constructions.

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