Romans 2:14 'by nature'

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bphillips
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Romans 2:14 'by nature'

Post by bphillips » August 4th, 2014, 11:51 am

The English versions I've read all have physis like the Lexham English Bible:

“For whenever the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things of the law, these, although they do not have the law, are a law to themselves,” (Romans 2:14, LEB)

Is it grammatically possible to translate φύσει here as follows: “For whenever the Gentiles, who do not have the law by nature, do the things of the law, these, although they do not have the law, are a law to themselves,”

ὅταν γὰρ ἔθνη τὰ μὴ νόμον ἔχοντα φύσει τὰ τοῦ νόμου [a]ποιῶσιν, οὗτοι νόμον μὴ ἔχοντες ἑαυτοῖς εἰσιν νόμος·

In my studies, it appears to me that physis, in Paul's usage and when used without prepositions and in the dative, means "in / by classification" (i.e., by order, kind, race, species). So I'm not sure if Paul wrote that the "Gentiles, by classification of who they are do not have the law, yet do it anyway, they show..." or if it really is as appears in the English texts, "Gentiles, who do not have the law, do instinctively the things ...".
I also wonder why Paul didn't use physikos if he really meant it as "instinctively", especially since he had already used physikos in Romans 1:26 when describing men and women who exchanged the 'natural' (instinctive) relations.

TIA,
Brian
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Tender Regard in Christ,
Brian Phillips

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Romans 2:14 'by nature'

Post by Jonathan Robie » August 5th, 2014, 2:30 pm

bphillips wrote:In my studies, it appears to me that physis, in Paul's usage and when used without prepositions and in the dative, means "in / by classification" (i.e., by order, kind, race, species). So I'm not sure if Paul wrote that the "Gentiles, by classification of who they are do not have the law, yet do it anyway, they show..." or if it really is as appears in the English texts, "Gentiles, who do not have the law, do instinctively the things ..."
Hi Brian,

I'm not sure what you mean by "in my studies", did you start by looking up the word in a lexicon? Here's Abbott-Smith:
Abbott-Smith wrote:** φύσις, -εως, ἡ (< φύω) [in LXX: Wi 7:20 13:1 19:20 אΑ, III Mac 3:29, IV Mac 1:20 Mac 5:7-8 Mac 5:25 Mac 13:27 Mac 15:13 Mac 15:25 Mac 16:3 * ;]

nature, i.e.,
(a) the nature (natural powers or constitution) of a person or thing: Ja 3:7, II Pe 1:4;
τέκνα φυσει ὀργῆς, Eph 2:3;
(b) origin, birth (Soph., Xen., al.): Ro 2:27, Ga 2:15;
(c) nature, i.e. the regular order or law of nature: I Co 11:14; dat., φύσει adverbially, by nature, Ro 2:14, Ga 4:8; παρὰ φύσιν, against nature, Ro 1:26 11:24; καρὰ φ., according to nature, naturally, Ro 11:21, 24.†
I think the translations are right here - and they generally are.

What lexicons do you have access to? BDAG is, of course, well worth the money and the best single lexicon. Abbott-Smith is probably the best free one.

Paul's usage is consistent with Stoic usage:
Φύσις has the base meaning “growth, origin,” but also shades into “natural form, constitution,
natural position,” and in the Stoic context is often simply “nature.” Because Stoics viewed the
cosmos as a teleological system (it had a purpose for everything), living κατὰ φύσιν, “according
to nature” was synonymous with living correctly. The phrase παρὰ φύσιν, “contrary to nature” is
seen, as is the bare dative, φύσει, “by nature.” The intransitive second aorist (ἔφυν) and perfect
(πέφυκα) of the verb φύω, “grow,” may be used with the meaning “to be (something) by nature.”
It should be noted that several Hellenistic schools all advocated living κατὰ φύσιν yet still came
to quite different ideas about what that meant.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Romans 2:14 'by nature'

Post by Barry Hofstetter » August 6th, 2014, 9:49 am

Ha! I call your Abbott-Smith and raise you one BDAG:

φύσις, εως, ἡ (φύω; Hom.+)
① condition or circumstance as determined by birth, natural endowment/condition, nature, esp. as inherited fr. one’s ancestors, in contrast to status or characteristics that are acquired after birth (Isocr. 4, 105 φύσει πολίτης; Isaeus 6, 28 φύσει υἱός; Pla., Menex. 245d φύσει βάρβαροι, νόμῳ Ἕλληνες; Just., A I, 1, 1 Καίσαρος φύσει υἱῷ; SIG 720, 3; OGI 472, 4; 558, 6 al.; PFay 19, 11.—Theoph. Ant. 1, 13 [p. 86, 16]) ἡμεῖς φύσει Ἰουδαῖοι Gal 2:15 (cp. Ptolemaeus, Περὶ Ἡρῴδου τ. βασιλέως: no. 199 Jac. [I A.D.] Ἰουδαῖοι … ἐξ ἀρχῆς φυσικοί; Jos., Ant. 7, 130; φύσει Λιμναίου IK XXXVII, 15, 3 of the birth daughter of L. in contrast to her adoptive relationship w. one named Arsas). ἡ ἐκ φύσεως ἀκροβυστία the uncircumcision that is so by nature (a ref. to non-Israelites, who lack the moral cultivation of those who are circumcised and yet ‘observe the upright requirements of the law’ [Ro 2:26]. Israelites who violate their responsibilities to God, despite their privileged position indicated by receipt of circumcision and special revelation, run the risk of placing themselves in the condition of the uncircumcised) Ro 2:27. ἤμεθα τέκνα φύσει ὀργῆς we were, in our natural condition (as descendants of Adam), subject to (God’s) wrath Eph 2:3 (the position of φύσει betw. the two words as Plut., Mor. 701a; DTurner, Grace Theological Journal 1, ’80, 195–219). The Christians of Tralles have a blameless disposition οὐ κατὰ χρῆσιν, ἀλλὰ κατὰ φύσιν not from habit, but by nature ITr 1:1 (here the contrast is between perfunctory virtue and spontaneous or instinctive behavior; Pindar sim. extolled the virtues of athletes who, in contrast to those w. mere acquired learning, reflected their ancestral breeding for excellence: O. 7, 90–92; P. 10, 11–14; N. 3, 40–42; 6, 8–16). οἱ κατὰ φύσιν κλάδοι the natural branches Ro 11:21, 24c. ἡ κατὰ φύσιν ἀγριέλαιος a tree which by nature is a wild olive vs. 24a; opp. παρὰ φύσιν contrary to nature vs. 24b; s. lit. s.v. ἀγριέλαιος and ἐλαία 1. On κατὰ and παρὰ φύσιν s. MPohlenz, Die Stoa I ’48, 488c.
② the natural character of an entity, natural characteristic/disposition (χρυσὸς … τὴν ἰδίαν φ. διαφυλάττει Iren. 1, 6, 2 [Harv. I 55, 2]; Hippol., Ref. 5, 8, 12) ἡ φύσις ἡ ἀνθρωπίνη human nature (Pla., Tht. 149b, Tim. 90c; Aristot. 1286b, 27; Epict. 2, 20, 18; Philo, Ebr. 166 al.; Aelian, VH 8, 11 τῶν ἀνθρώπων φύσις θνητή; TestJob 3:3 ἡ ἀνθρωπίνη φ.; Orig., C. Cels. 1, 52, 13; Just., A II, 6, 3 τῇ φύσει τῶν ἀνθρώπων) Js 3:7b (unless the sense should be humankind, s. 4 below). Euphemistically: παρθένος ἐγέννησεν, ἃ οὐ χωρεῖ ἡ φύσις αὐτῆς while remaining a virgin, a virgin has had a child or a virgin has given birth, something that does not accord w. her natural condition (as a virgin) GJs 19:3. τὸ ἀδύνατον τῆς ἡμετέρας φύσεως the weakness of our nature Dg 9:6. θείας κοινωνοὶ φύσεως sharers in the divine nature 2 Pt 1:4 (cp. ὅσοι φύσεως κοινωνοῦντες ἀνθρω[πίν]ης IReisenKN, p. 371, 46f; Jos., C. Ap. 1, 232 θείας μετεσχηκέναι φύσεως; Himerius, Or. 48 [=Or. 14], 26 of Dionysus: πρὶν εἰς θεῶν φύσιν ἐλθεῖν=before he attained to the nature of the gods; Ar. 13, 5 μία φ. τῶν θεῶν. Difft. AWolters, Calvin Theological Journal 25, ’90, 28–44 ‘partners of the Deity’).—Also specif. of sexual characteristics (Diod S 16, 26, 6 originally παρθένοι prophesied in Delphi διὰ τὸ τῆς φύσεως ἀδιάφθορον=because their sexuality was uncorrupted. φύσις of sex and its change Dicaearchus, Fgm. 37 W.; ἑρμαφροδίτου φ. Iren. 1, 11, 5 [Harv. I 108, 8]. Obviously φ. also has the concrete mng. ‘sex organ’: Nicander, Fgm. 107; Diod S 32, 10, 7 φ. ἄρρενος corresponding to φ. θηλείας following immediately; Anton. Lib. 41, 5; Phlegon: 257 Fgm. 36, 2, 1 Jac.). In the context of Mary’s virginal delivery ἐραυνήσω τὴν φύσιν αὐτῆς=I will examine whether she remains a virgin GJs 19:3b; 20:1 (where Tdf. with codd. reads ἔβαλε Σαλώμη τὸν δάκτυλον αὐτῆς εἰς τὴν φύσιν αὐτῆς [cp. J 20:25]). The hyena παρʼ ἐνιαυτὸν ἀλλάσσει τὴν φύσιν changes its nature every year, fr. male to female and vice versa B 10:7 (s. ὕαινα). Polytheists worship τοῖς φύσει μὴ οὖσιν θεοῖς beings that are by nature no gods at all Gal 4:8 (s. CLanger, Euhemeros u. die Theorie der φύσει u. θέσει θεοί: Αγγελος II 1926, 53–59; Mel., P. 8, 58 φύσει θεὸς ὢν καὶ ἄνθρωπος; Synes., Prov. 1, 9 p. 97c τοῖς φύσει θεοῖς; Diod S 3, 9, 1 differentiates between two kinds of gods: some αἰώνιον ἔχειν κ. ἄφθαρτον τὴν φύσιν, others θνητῆς φύσεως κεκοινωνηκέναι κ. διʼ ἀρετὴν … τετευχέναι τιμῶν ἀθανάτων=some ‘have an everlasting and incorruptible nature’, others ‘share mortal nature and then, because of their personal excellence, … attain immortal honors’).—ὅταν ἔθνη φύσει τὰ τοῦ νόμου ποιῶσιν when gentiles spontaneously (i.e. without extraneous legal instruction; cp. the prophetic ideal Jer 31:32–34) fulfill the demands of the (Mosaic) law Ro 2:14 (s. WMundle, Theol. Blätter 13, ’34, 249–56 [the gentile as Christian under direction of the πνεῦμα]; difft. s. 3 below).
③ the regular or established order of things, nature (Ar. 4, 2 κατὰ ἀπαραίτητον φύσεως ἀνάγκην=in accordance with the non-negotiable order of things; Ath. 3, 1 νόμῳ φύσεως) μετήλλαξαν τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν εἰς τὴν παρὰ φύσιν they exchanged the natural function for one contrary to nature Ro 1:26 (Diod S 32, 11, 1 παρὰ φύσιν ὁμιλία; Appian, Bell. Civ. 1, 109 §511; Athen. 13, 605d οἱ παρὰ φύσιν τῇ Ἀφροδίτῃ χρώμενοι=those who indulge in Aphrodite contrary to nature; TestNapht 3:4; Philo, Spec. Leg. 3, 39 ὁ παιδεραστὴς τὴν παρὰ φύσιν ἡδονὴν διώκει=a lover of boys pursues unnatural pleasure; Jos., C. Ap. 2, 273; Tat. 3:4; Ath. 26, 2; on φ. as definer of order s. JKube, ΤΕΧΝΗ und ΑΡΕΤΗ ’69, esp. 44–46; on relation to κτίσι in Paul, s. OWischmeyer, ZTK 93, ’96, 352–75). ὅταν ἔθνη φύσει τὰ τοῦ νόμου ποιῶσιν when gentiles fulfil the law’s demands by following the natural order (of things) Ro 2:14 (cp. Ltzm., Hdb., exc. on Ro 2:14–16; but s. 2 above). ἡ φύσις διδάσκει ὑμᾶς 1 Cor 11:14 (Epict. 1, 16, 9f; Plut., Mor. 478d; Synes., Calv. [Baldhead] 14 p. 78c φύσις as well as νόμος prescribes long hair for women, short hair for men.—Ltzm., Hdb. ad loc.). τὸ ὄνομα, ὃ κέκτησθε φύσει δικαίᾳ the name which you bear because of a just natural order IEph 1:1 (s. Hdb. ad loc.—τῇ φ. τὸ ἀγαθὸν ἀνώφορόν ἐστιν Did., Gen. 21, 5.—JKleist, transl. ’46, 119 n. 2 suggests ‘natural disposition’).—RGrant, Miracle and Natural Law ’52, 4–18.
④ an entity as a product of nature, natural being, creature (X., Cyr. 6, 2, 29 πᾶσα φύσις=every creature; 3 Macc 3:29.—Diod S 2, 49, 4 plants are called φύσεις καρποφοροῦσαι; 3, 6, 2 θνητὴ φ.= a mortal creature. Ps.-Callisth. 1, 10, 1 ἀνθρωπίνη φ. = a human creature. It can also mean species [X. et al.; 4 Macc 1:20; Philo] and then at times disappear in translation: Ps.-Pla, Epin. 948d ἡ τῶν ἄστρων φύσις=the stars; X., Lac. 3, 4 ἡ τῶν θηλειῶν φύσις=the women; Aristot., Part. An. 1, 5 περὶ τῆς ζῳϊκῆς φ.=on animals) πᾶσα φύσις θηρίων κτλ. Js 3:7a. Also prob. ἡ φ. ἡ ἀνθρωπίνη humankind 3:7b; s. 2 above.—Kl. Pauly IV 841–44 (lit.).—DELG s.v. φύομαι C 6. M-M. EDNT. TW. Sv.


Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Romans 2:14 'by nature'

Post by Jonathan Robie » August 6th, 2014, 10:49 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:Ha! I call your Abbott-Smith and raise you one BDAG:
Yeah, I only have it on paper, and I'm too lazy to type it in ;->
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Re: Romans 2:14 'by nature'

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » August 6th, 2014, 9:56 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
Barry Hofstetter wrote:Ha! I call your Abbott-Smith and raise you one BDAG:
Yeah, I only have it on paper, and I'm too lazy to type it in ;->
Yeah and our paper copies cost us 25% of what the e-texts are offered at. I got mine the same time as Jonathan when Jim West sang the hallelujah on his roof.
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Re: Romans 2:14 'by nature'

Post by cwconrad » August 7th, 2014, 6:10 am

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
Jonathan Robie wrote:
Barry Hofstetter wrote:Ha! I call your Abbott-Smith and raise you one BDAG:
Yeah, I only have it on paper, and I'm too lazy to type it in ;->
Yeah and our paper copies cost us 25% of what the e-texts are offered at. I got mine the same time as Jonathan when Jim West sang the hallelujah on his roof.
Ah yes, I remember it well. I had vowed and declared that I didn't think it would be published in my lifetime; Jim West doubled down on me and said he would dance and sing on his rooftop in the nude if BDAG should actually appear in print. The snapshot is dated Nov 1, 2003.
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ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Romans 2:14 'by nature'

Post by Stephen Carlson » August 7th, 2014, 7:10 am

cwconrad wrote:Ah yes, I remember it well. I had vowed and declared that I didn't think it would be published in my lifetime; Jim West doubled down on me and said he would dance and sing on his rooftop in the nude if BDAG should actually appear in print. The snapshot is dated Nov 1, 2003.
Jim was smart not to promise eating unsavory objects (his hat, crow, ...)
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