Tag Archives | Greek

ESV, RSV, and Romans 5:3

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.

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New Testament Transcripts Website

I just came across this really cool website that allows you to read and compare many of the extant manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. Someone has obviously spent a lot of time building this (understatement!). Check out the guide for more information on how to use it, and then try it out yourself.

New Testament Transcripts Prototype

Is Παύσονται Deponent?

1 Corinthians 13:8 is a much disputed passage: “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” In Greek it reads, “Ἡ ἀγάπη οὐδέποτε πίπτει· εἴτε δὲ προφητεῖαι, καταργηθήσονται· εἴτε γλῶσσαι, παύσονται· εἴτε γνῶσις, καταργηθήσεται.” Not a few interpreters have pointed out that Paul switches verbs when he mentions tongues. Carson is convinced that we have nothing more than stylistic variation: “This view assumes without warrant that the switch to this verb is more than a stylistic variation” (Showing the Spirit, 66). I’m not so sure, but that’s beside the point of this post.

The real issue is that Carson argues that παύσονται is deponent: “The middle form may be used while the active force is preserved. At such points the verb is deponent” (Showing the Spirit, 66). But a deponent is not merely a verb that carries an active meaning in the middle voice. To prove a deponent middle, one must demonstrate the active voice has fallen out of use and that the middle has taken over the force of the active. Is this the case with παύσονται?

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Paradigm Shift—Paul’s Use of Σάρξ

Over the past couple of years, and particularly the past several months, I’ve been in the process of a fairly significant paradigm shift in the way I read the NT—particularly Paul. Though I have already made a major shift, I’m still somewhat in transition; I’m still testing my conclusions to see if they fit naturally or if they must be forced to work. The shift involves a significant challenge to the way interpretors for hundreds of years have understood Paul’s use of σάρξ.

Several factors have influenced this transition.

(1) I chose Herman Ridderbos for my Adv. NTT theologian project, whose emphasis on Heilsgeschichte has opened my eyes to the objective, historical elements of Paul’s thought that are too often read in a more existential, ahistorical (and acontextual!) way. One example: when Paul says that now is the day of salvation, he doesn’t mean this text to be used (primarily) as a appeal to teenage campers to make a decision for Christ before it’s too late; rather, he is arguing that the fulfillment of the promise of the New Covenant has dawned with the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are living in the era of salvation foretold by the OT prophets.

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Gal 6:16—Some Additional Thoughts

If you read my previous post about the function of καί and its implications for the various interpretations of τὸν Ἰσραὴλ τοῦ θεοῦ, you may have been left with some lingering questions—as was I. In addition, I was missing one vital piece of information that makes view #1 slightly more plausible. Since I don’t think I expressed the issues quite cogently enough the first time, I’m going to take another shot at it.

The two questions that I was left asking myself were:

  1. If the interpretation which understands καί to mean and is so clearly wrong, why do the majority of English translations translate it that way?
  2. Is the English word and capable of being used to join two items when the former encompasses the latter? For example, is and being used properly in this statement: I love food and pizza? Or does and—to be used properly—have to join two distinct items?

Allow me to (1) recap, (2) revisit the view that understands καί to mean and, and then (3) answer the two questions posed above.

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Gal 6:16, the Israel of God, and the Use of καί

This passage has been the subject of no small controversy in recent centuries. I don’t intend to solve it all with a brief blog post. But I would like to make a few comments on the use of καί and its implications for the possible interpretations. A friend asked me a question about it, so I figured I’d take the opportunity to put some theology on a blog that is supposed to be about theology!

There are three functions of καί that are possible candidates for this text. They follow in order of grammatical likelihood (i.e., not giving considering to contextual or theological factors).

The most basic meaning of καί is and—a coordinating conjunction that joins two or more distinct items. While this is the most likely meaning from a grammatical perspective, contextually, this is absolutely impossible. Paul pronounces peace and mercy on those who walk in accordance with his rule (κανών)—that Gentiles are equal to and on the same plain as Jews and that the former need not submit to circumcision, et al. in order to be right with God and be part of God’s covenant people. Verse 15 is a summary statement for the argument of the book. Ιt is absolutely inconceivable that Paul would be pronouncing a blessing on two distinct groups of people: those who obey his instructions and the Jews (who don’t obey them—the necessary implication if καί means and). Oddly enough, Paul Benware defends the meaning of and here in a very befuddled argument (see Understanding End Times Prophecy, 87-89). O. Palmer Robertson obliterates this view in his The Israel of God, 40ff.

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