Tuesday, April 27, 2010

οἱ ἐκ πίστεως = οἱ πιστεύοντες in Galatians 3?

οἱ ἐκ πίστεως = οἱ πιστεύοντες in Galatians 3? those of faith(fulness) = those who believe in Galatians 3?

Given the two previous entries it comes as no surprise that I would eventually post an entry concerning pistis Christou (πίστις Χριστοῦ). This is such an exegetical note, but it comes at the issue a little more obliquely than readers might anticipate. Instead of directly addressing the genitive constructions in Galatians 2:16 (dia pisteos Iesou Christou; διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ and ek pisteos Christou; ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ) and 3:22 (ek pistos Iesou Christou; ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ) and their implications for translating expressions that clearly refer to these debated phrases in 2:16 and 3:22, let's ponder whether hoi ek pisteos = hoi pisteuontes (οἱ ἐκ πίστεως = οἱ πιστεύοντες) in Galatians 3.

In both 3:7 and 3:9 Paul uses the expression hoi ek pisteos (οἱ ἐκ πίστεως) set over against hosoi ex ergon nomou eisin (ὅσοι ἐξ ἔργων νόμου εἰσίν). At issue is whether the apostle intends hoi ek pistos (οἱ ἐκ πίστεως) to be equivalent to hoi pisteuontes (οἱ πιστεύοντες), the the substantival participle which means "the ones who believe" or "the believers." Stated in English, the issue is whether Paul intends "those from faith(fulness)" is to be read as equivalent to "those who believe."

The NIV translates the identical expressions in 3:7 and 3:9 respectively "those who believe" and "those who have faith." Similarly the NRSV translates these expressions respectively "those who believe" and "those who believe." The NRSV and NIV respectively translate 3:10 "all who rely on the works of the law" and "all who rely on observing the law." It is clear that both translations translate all three expressions with verbs. Both the NIV and NRSV translate hoi ek pisteos (οἱ ἐκ πίστεως) as if the expression were equivalent to hoi pisteuontes (οἱ πιστεύοντες), the substantival participle. Both translate hosoi ex ergon nomou eisin (ὅσοι ἐξ ἔργων νόμου εἰσίν) of 3:10 verbally also, as though it were equivalent to hosoi epanapauomenoi nomo (ὅσοι ἐπαναπαυόμενοι νόμῳ) ("as many as rely upon the law"; cf. Romans 2:17). Indeed, the verb eimi [eisin] (εἰμί [εἰσίν]) does occur in the expression in 3:10, but does it warrant the translation regularly given (cf. ESV)?

Are these expressions (οἱ ἐκ πίστεως and ὅσοι ἐξ ἔργων νόμου) equivalent to substantival participles? Or are these expressions idiomatically expressing something different? Should they be translated verbally, as reflected in modern translations, or should they be translated differently? The ESV translates the expression in 3:7 and 3:9 "those of faith" and "those who are of faith" respectively. This is surely right and greatly improves upon the NIV and NRSV. Given the ESV's translation of 2:16, the reader would infer that "those of faith" should be filled out as "those of faith in Christ."

No one doubts that Paul's identical expressions in both Galatians 3:7 and 3:9 may be read as hoi ek pisteos Christou (οἱ ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ) or even hoi ek pisteos Iesou Christou (οἱ ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ). This is so because of Paul's formulation of the expressions in 2:16 from which those of 3:7 and 3:9 derive, namely, dia pisteos Idsou Christou (διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ) and ek pistos Christou (ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ). At issue, however, is whether one should read the expression as "those of faith in Christ" or "those of the faithfulness of Christ."

One could ask the same questions concerning Romans 3. Is the expression ὁ ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ in 3:26 equivalent to ho pisteon [eis Christon Iesoun] (ὁ πιστεύων [εἰς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν])? If so, why does Paul not use the substantival participle instead as he does in Romans 3:22 where he uses two distinguishable expressions: (1) dia pisteos Iesou Christou (διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ); and (2) eis pantas pisteuontas (εἰς πάντας τοὺς πιστεύοντας)? Are these two distinguishable expressions simply interchangeable?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ἔργων νόμου in Galatians 2:16

ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ἔργων νόμου in Galatians 2:16; a man from the works of the law in Galatians 2:16?

Why did I raise the question concerning how we should read logizometha gar dikaiousthai pistei anthropon choris ergon nomou (λογιζόμεθα γὰρ δικαιοῦσθαι πίστει ἄνθρωπον χωρὶς ἔργων νόμου) in Romans 3:28? What prompted me to consider seeing Paul's word connections differently from the way translations and exegetes tend? What incited me to suppose that we should read choris (χωρίς) as connected to anthropon (ἄνθρωπον) as a modifier, retaining the word order anthropon choris ergon nomou (ἄνθρωπον χωρὶς ἔργων νόμου), rather than take choris (χωρίς) adverbially connected to dikaiousthai (δικαιοῦσθαι)?

In another crucial passage Paul states, eidotes hoti ou dikaioutai anthropos ex ergon nomou (εἰδότες ὅτι οὐ δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ἔργων νόμου, Galatians 2:16). Despite the word order of the text, most exegetes and translations do not accept the word connections found in the text. Without adequate explanation they tend to disconnect ex ergon nomou (ἐξ ἔργων νόμου) from anthropos (ἄνθρωπος) and connect the prepositional phrase to the negated verb ou dikaioutai (οὐ δικαιοῦται) instead. Some, such as the NRSV, even disconnect the negation (ou, οὐ) from the verb (dikaioutai, δικαιοῦται) and instead connect it to ex ergon nomou (ἐξ ἔργων νόμου) as in "we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ." Most translations, however, read something like the following: "we know that a man is not justified by the works of the Law" (e.g., ESV). Because of this translation decision exegetes and translations tend to take ean me (ἐὰν μή) not with exceptive force, as always elsewhere in Paul's letters, but with an adversative force. The ESV represents these decisions: "we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. . . ."

Accepting the word order as represented in the text has the advantage of preserving Paul's otherwise universal use of ἐὰν μή as except and has the added advantage of taking the prepositional phrase, ex ergon nomou (ἐξ ἔργων νόμου), as descriptive of anthropos (ἄνθρωπος), the word to which it is actually attached, rather than disconnecting the phrase's grammatical linkage and reconnecting it adverbially to the negated verb ou dikaioutai (οὐ δικαιοῦται). Other disconnections usually happen in 2:16 also, such as disconnecting the negation (ou, οὐ) from the third dik- (δικ-) verb (dikaiothesetai; δικαιωθήσεται) and reconnecting the negative to pasa sarx (πᾶσα σάρξ) as the ESV does: "because by works of the law no one will be justified."

So, what am I proposing should be our translation of Galatians 2:15-16? "We, by nature Jews and not sinners from the Gentiles, now know that a man-from-the-deeds-required-by-the-law is not justified except through πίστεως 'Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ and we believed in Christ Jesus in order that we might be justified from pisteos Christou (πίστεως Χριστοῦ) and not from the deeds required by the law because all flesh shall not be justified from the deeds required by the law." Who is this anthropos ex ergon nomou (ἄνθωπος ἐξ ἔργων νόμου)? This is Paul's circumlocutionary reference to a Jew, but not just a Jew. Why so circumlocutionary? It seems that Paul's principal concern is to set up his whole argument concerning contrasting covenantal origin or pedigree.

Galatians 2:16 seems rather clearly to draw upon Psalm 142:3--hoti ou dikaiothesetai enopion sou pas zon (ὅτι οὐ δικαιωθήσεται ἐνώπιόν σου πᾶς ζῶν, LXX). Of course, the same is true of Romans 3:20--dioti ex ergon nomou ou dikaiothesetai pasa sarx enopion autou . . . (διότι ἐξ ἔργων νόμου οὐ δικαωθήσεται πᾶσα σὰρξ ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ. . . .) Part of the difficulty in translating this use of Psalm 142:3 is likely due to English idiom. As one attempts to translate the Greek into acceptable English idiom, it becomes apparent that English idiom prefers to negate the person rather than the verb. But by doing so, does one not alter the sense of the verse?

So, what is my point in all of this? It seems to me that if we take Paul's word connections, then we will receive the added advantage of recognizing that his argument does not antithetically set deeds versus faith but it sets the new covenant in Christ over against the old covenant in the law. Thus, his argument focuses upon Christ Jesus as the one who has rendered the former covenant old and passé by superceding that covenant as earthly copy and foreshadow gives way to heavenly original and reality.

For fuller discussion see my essay "The Faithfulness of Jesus Christ as a Theme in Paul's Theology in Galatians" from The Faith of Jesus Christ: Exegetical, Biblical, and Theological Studies, edited by Michael F. Bird & Preston M. Sprinkle, (Milton Keynes, UK: Paternoster; Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2009), 193-194.

Mark Seifrid takes Galatians 2:16 the same way that I do. See my essay for references.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

χωρὶς in Romans 3:28

χωρὶς in Romans 3:28; apart from in Romans 3:28

I would like some insight from readers concerning use of the Greek word choris (χωρίς) in Romans 3:28. At the various levels of my learning of Greek grammars and grammarians have reinforced the point that in the Greek New Testament χωρίς normally follows the word to which it is grammatically attached. Once in the GNT choris (χωρίς) follows the word it governs (Hebrews 12:14). Also, in the New Testament, choris (χωρίς) functions principally as an improper preposition. A. T. Robertson observes, "In the N.T. we have only one pure adverbial use (Jo. 20:7), while as a preposition with the ablative we find it 40 times" (A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, 648). 

My question concerns the placement and use of choris (χωρίς) in Romans 3:28 because of the way English translations connect the improper prepositional phrase (choris ergon nomou; χωρίς ἔργων νόμου) to the verb dikaiousthai (δικαιοῦσθαι), essentially rendering choris (χωρίς) as an adverb, rather than maintaining the syntactical connection that the Greek text itself actually shows, anthropon choris (ἄνθρωπον χωρίς), with choris (χωρίς) functioning as an improper preposition introducing the prepositional phrase choris errgon nomou (χωρὶς ἔργων νόμου) modifying anthropon (ἄνθρωπον) adjectivally.

Here is Romans 3:28 in the Greek New Testament.
λογιζόμεθα γὰρ δικαιοῦσθαι πίστει ἄνθρωπον χωρὶς ἔργων νόμου.
Here are a few English translations of the passage under question.
(NIV) For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

(NRSV) For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.

(ESV) For we hold that one is justified by faith papart from works of the law.

(NASB 1995) For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

(RSV) For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law.

(KJV) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
All the translations follow the lead of the KJV. Why? Are the translations reflecting an exegetical predisposition rather than the syntax of the sentence? Are the translations showing how an exegetical-theological predilection governs how one translates a passage? Or, is there something about the text that I am missing, that I do not see, or that I do not understand?
So, here is my question. Given the placement of χωρίς following the noun anthropon (ἄνθωπον) rather than the verb dikaiousthai (δικαιοῦσθαι) or the noun pistei (πίστει), why do our English translations not translate Romans 3:28 as follows? "For we reckon a man apart from the deeds required by the law to be justified by faith (by faithfulness)."

I have consulted several major commentaries on Romans (Cranfield, Dunn, Godet, Moo, Schreiner). Not one mentions anything about the syntax. All proceed as if there were nothing to address. Is this an example of a glaring exegetical issue in plain sight that receives no commentary attention? Or, is this an example of my seeing an exegetical phantom, an syntactical issue that does not exist?

Your exegetical insights and comments will be welcomed.

For quite a different understanding of Romans 3:28 see Dan Wallace's "Romans 3:28 and Jas 2:24: A Comparison."

ἐξήγησις: A New Blog

I am announcing today that I am beginning a new blog. What? Starting a new blog, another blog? Well, yes, but it may be that this new blog will become the focus of all my blogging. For far too many reasons to enumerate or even to begin to express, I am finding that I need to concentrate my energies on fewer matters but especially concerning those things wherein my own skills and abilities will make the most difference.

So, today, I am beginning a new blog titled ἐξήγησις, exegesis for Greek readers. I will endeavor to make it understandable to non-Greek readers, too, especially by way of transliteration. The banner indicates that the blog will feature exegetical inquiry concerning the Greek New Testament. It will offer exegetical insights from my own labors in the GNT, but it will also raise concerns, issues, and questions about passages within the GNT over which I puzzle.