Translation in Romans 1:4

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Re: Translation in Romans 1:4

Postby Bobby Garringer » April 18th, 2013, 3:50 am

John:

To be born (lit. to become, γενομένου) "of the seed of David according to the flesh" (ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σάρκα) would not be a pronouncement of weakness in verse 3. Instead this would make Jesus the heir of David, who was prophesied to rule forever. (Note the promises made to the fathers spoken of in verse 2.)

Then the phrase that contrasts with κατὰ σάρκα (verse 3) is κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης (verse 4), not ἐν δυνάμει which has no verbal similarity. So the distinction is not being made between weakness and power, but between Jesus' position -- a great position -- "according to the flesh" and his even greater position "according to the Spirit of holiness."

Scott:

I note a use of the dative in general -- its locative use -- that is essentially adjectival, as in Matthew 5:8 (μακάριοι οἱ καθαροὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ). And one example of a dative in a prepositional phrase, ἐν πίστει, that is similar to ἐν δυνάμει in Romans 1:4 and is clearly adjectival. The phrase is found in 1 Timothy 1:2 which begins, Τιμοθέῳ γνησίῳ τέκνῳ ἐν πίστει.
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Re: Translation in Romans 1:4

Postby Bobby Garringer » April 18th, 2013, 6:04 am

Isn't there an apparent intertextual link between relevant parts of Luke 1 and Romans 1?

Within the context of a strong early tradition of the close tie between Paul and the author of Luke-Acts, it seems unavoidable that potential intertextual links -- with interpretive implications -- be considered in trying to understand what each has written.

As literature, the letter to Rome and the writings of Luke are from approximately the same period, sharing a similar perspective that includes -- according to Acts and other traditions -- a close relationship between the authors. And in the case of Romans 1:4 and Luke 1:35 in their contexts, James Orr raises the kind of points intertextual critics consider. He notes that the passages have in common: (1) a reference to Jesus coming as a descendant of David (a thing Paul does not normally discuss) (2) a reference to divine power and (3) a reference to the Spirit. Intertextual studies -- carried on in regard to various kinds of literature -- consider the potential hermeneutical relevance of just these types of correlations.

Potentially, Orr could be right. What Luke has written could help explain -- and remove the ambiguity -- in the successive prepositional phrases Paul has used.

We note at least a minimal number of cases, other than Romans 1:4, in which datives like "in power" have adjectival significance. So cumulatively, a case can be made for the adjectival use of that phrase here. How weak or strong the case is can be debated, but it makes sense.

I don't think the NET Bible makes the case very well, as Dr. Carlson has demonstrated. But what is written there is not all that can be said on the topic.
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Re: Translation in Romans 1:4

Postby Stephen Carlson » April 18th, 2013, 10:30 am

OK, I've had a chance to track down James Orr's discussion. It's over a hundred years old, and a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then, especially in terms of intertextuality.

Here's the relevant part of the discussion (pp.119-121, footnotes omitted):

I now go back to Rom. i. 3, 4, and ask your attention to one or two points of interest in connection with these verses. Prof. Pfleiderer had a curious theory about this passage which he has since abandoned. He actually thought he saw in these words of Paul about Jesus " being born of the seed of David according to the flesh," and " declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection of the dead," the origin of Luke's narrative of the Virgin Birth. The idea is, of course, untenable, yet there is a gleam of insight in it. I confess it is difficult for me to read this passage in Romans, and rid my mind of the impression that there is a relation between it and what we find in Luke i. 35. Look at the words in the Gospel. The angel announces to Mary that she shall conceive in her womb, and bring forth a son, and that " the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David" (vers. 31, 32). Then, when Mary inquires how this shall be (ver. 34), the answer is given: " The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee; wherefore also that which is to be born shall be called holy, the Son of God " --” or, " the holy thing which is to be born shall be called the Son of God" (ver. 35). In the Greek, however, and always throughout these chapters, except in ch. ii. 26, 27, the words rendered " the Holy Ghost " are simply " Holy Spirit " -- the article is wanting. Turn now to Romans. Here Paul announces, first, that Jesus was born " of the seed of David according to the flesh " ; then "that He was declared (not " constituted," but " defined ") by the resurrection " to be the Son of God, with [or " in "] power, according to the Spirit of holiness." The last is a peculiar expression. It also is, literally, " Spirit of holiness," without the article. The contrast indicated is commonly taken to be between Christ's human and His higher or divine nature; but it seems to me more in keeping with the context to interpret it of origin. " Of the seed of David, according to the flesh " -- on the side of fleshly origin ; " Son of God, with [or " in "] power, according to the Spirit of holiness " on the side of higher spiritual origin. The words are then almost an echo of Luke's --” " Give unto Him the throne of His father David " -- " Holy Spirit shall come upon thee" --"Power of the Most High shall over-shadow thee "- --" Wherefore also that which is to be born shall be called . . . the Son of God " (or, " the holy thing which is to be born," etc.).

To allude to only one other passage, it is a fair exegetical question, I think, whether, in the light of its context (" For Adam was first formed, then Eve," etc.), the phrase in I Tim. ii. 15, " Saved through the child-bearing," should not be taken, with Ellicott and others, as an allusion to the promise in Gen. iii. 15, and its fulfilment in the birth of the Saviour.

I hope I have said enough to show that Paul is not a witness that can be relied on to disprove the Virgin Birth.


I'm not impressed. Orr's finding of a "impression that there is a relation" between the two texts is awfully vague and he does not do much analysis to support (and it's all in English, which hides the differences in the Greek expression). Personally, I'm skeptical of a link because the contexts are very different. Luke 1:35 is talking about the incarnation, while Rom 1:4 is talking about the resurrection. That such very common Christian concepts as the Holy Spirit and divine power happen to show up (in different terms no less) is not particularly telling.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
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Re: Translation in Romans 1:4

Postby Jonathan Robie » April 18th, 2013, 11:22 am

Bobby Garringer wrote:To be born (lit. to become, γενομένου) "of the seed of David according to the flesh" (ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σάρκα) would not be a pronouncement of weakness in verse 3. Instead this would make Jesus the heir of David, who was prophesied to rule forever. (Note the promises made to the fathers spoken of in verse 2.)

Then the phrase that contrasts with κατὰ σάρκα (verse 3) is κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης (verse 4), not ἐν δυνάμει which has no verbal similarity. So the distinction is not being made between weakness and power, but between Jesus' position -- a great position -- "according to the flesh" and his even greater position "according to the Spirit of holiness."


Yes, there's very strong parallelism here, but ἐν δυνάμει is not echoed in the first part of this:

τοῦ γενομένου ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σάρκα,
τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν,
Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν

First question: should it be read like this (which I think is more likely):

τοῦ γενομένου ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σάρκα,
τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν,
Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν

Or like this (which feels less natural to me, and seems to break the parallelism):

τοῦ γενομένου ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σάρκα,
τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν,
Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν

To me, ἐν δυνάμει πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης feels natural, but ἐν δυνάμει κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης does not. And the parallelism suggests the other structure anyway, so I would go for τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει.

Second question: what does τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει mean? Does it mean ὁρισθέντος ἐν δυνάμει, i.e. "powerfully declared"? Or υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει? To me, ὁρισθέντος ἐν δυνάμει seems more natural. But someone mentioned that BDAG goes with υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει, translating it "the powerful son of God". That surprised me.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Translation in Romans 1:4

Postby Bobby Garringer » April 18th, 2013, 2:35 pm

Thanks, Dr. Carlson, for engaging this issue.

I understand why you regard Luke 1:35, in context, as irrelevant to grasping the meaning of Romans 1:4, in context.

My response to your statements is this: (1) Paul is also speaking of the Incarnation (In verse three, he speaks of τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ τοῦ γενομένου ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σάρκα.) (2) Paul's reference to Christ's descent from David accompanies references to God's power and Spirit; and this three-fold connection seems to tie together the traditions behind both passages in a significant way, especially since he rarely speaks of Jesus being David's descendant. (3) Luke recounts a narrative and Paul gives a formal -- or perhaps hymnal -- recounting of essentially the same ideas, so exact verbal agreement is not necessary to a real connection between Luke and Paul as authors.

When Paul gives a narrative-like reference to the same event that Luke wrote about (the Last Supper), there are more precise parallels -- with a few differences. Note "Τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν διδόμενον: τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν" found, among the Gospels, only in Luke's account (Luke 22:19) and Paul's "τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν" and "τοῦτο ποιεῖτε, ὁσάκις ἐὰν πίνητε, εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν" (1 Corinthians 11; 24, 25).

Incidentally, the fact that Paul and Luke seem to share the same tradition regarding the Last Supper in Luke 22 and 1 Corinthians 11 lends some support to the suggestion that they share a similar tradition in Luke 1 and Romans 1.
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Re: Translation in Romans 1:4

Postby Bobby Garringer » April 18th, 2013, 3:56 pm

Jonathan:

You state, "there's very strong parallelism here." But you see a problem for my reading of the passage, because "ἐν δυνάμει is not echoed in the first part of [the parallelism]."

But the construction does not so much suggest a parallel as it does a contrast between that which is κατὰ σάρκα and that which is κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης, which highlights the great advantage in the latter. An aspect of the contrast is that the latter, unlike the former, stands ἐν δυνάμει.

In general, we should not look for echoes in what Jesus is "in the flesh" and what he is "in the Spirit of holiness." Instead we should look for exalted and increased phrases to describe the latter.

You indicate that ἐν δυνάμει πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης, considered as a unit of thought, somehow breaks -- the parallelism -- but I would say that it enhances -- the contrast -- and that any reference that stands immediately prior to κατὰ σάρκα is relevant, in Paul's description, for what it means for Jesus to be "in the flesh," while all references that stand immediately prior to κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης -- not just υἱοῦ θεοῦ -- are relevant to what it means for Jesus to be "in the Spirit of holiness."

The above seems to be a balanced treatment of both expressions, so that Paul's thought would be that his gospel is about God's Son, who became a descendant of David, according to the flesh (verse 3), who was then declared to be the-Son-of-God-in-power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead (verse 4).

You also state that ἐν δυνάμει κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης, as a unit of thought, does not feel natural, and you read ἐν δυνάμει as a natural adverbial modifier for the participle-verb τοῦ ὁρισθέντος, with the significance "powerfully declared." (If ἐν δυνάμει was sequenced immediately after τοῦ ὁρισθέντος, there would be no doubt that the former modifies the latter as an adverb. But it is not, therefore, some feel justified in relating it to υἱοῦ θεοῦ which stands just before it. This, of course, is the fundamental issue.

BDAG translates υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει as "the powerful son of God." You do not.

I have offered to Scott a possible parallel to such a treatment of an ἐν-prepositional phrase in which Timothy is described as Paul's own son in faith (γνησίῳ τέκνῳ ἐν πίστει, 1 Timothy 1:2). Here I find a reason to agree with BDAG.
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Re: Translation in Romans 1:4

Postby Jonathan Robie » April 18th, 2013, 4:22 pm

Bobby Garringer wrote:(If ἐν δυνάμει was sequenced immediately after τοῦ ὁρισθέντος, there would be no doubt that the former modifies the latter as an adverb. But it is not, therefore, some feel justified in relating it to υἱοῦ θεοῦ which stands just before it. This, of course, is the fundamental issue.

BDAG translates υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει as "the powerful son of God." You do not.


I'm interested in people's opinions on what you said earlier. I'm not sure that I see much difference between this:

τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει

and this:

τοῦ ὁρισθέντος ἐν δυνάμει υἱοῦ θεοῦ

You do. I would have thought the difference was more a matter of focus than anything else. How do other people feel about this?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Translation in Romans 1:4

Postby John Brainard » April 18th, 2013, 7:34 pm

Scott Lawson wrote:
John Brainard wrote:The exegetical question would be whether Romans 1:4 is concerning the Christ or His Position.


Sorry John, I didn't have any exegetical position in mind when reading the verse. I was surprised that ἐν δυνάμει was glossed in a way that seemed to make it adjectival. I took it as either instrumental or associative and had no thought that it could be adjectival. Doesn't this usage surprise you even a little bit? Upon looking at δύναμις in BDAG, I see it has another gloss for ἐν δυνάμει as "with power, powerful(ly)". I'm leaning toward it being associative and would need more explanation as to how ἐν δυνάμει might be understood adjectivally.



What if ἐν δυνάμει carries a casual sense. He was declared the Son of God because of.


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Re: Translation in Romans 1:4

Postby Scott Lawson » April 18th, 2013, 11:03 pm

John Brainard wrote:What if ἐν δυνάμει carries a casual sense. He was declared the Son of God because of.


BDAG ἐν, (9) ..."marker of cause or reason, because of, on account of..."

It also begins the entry of ἐν with this comment: "...The uses of this prep. are so many and various, and oft. so easily confused, that a strictly systematic treatment is impossible. It must suffice to list the main categories, which will help establish the usage in individual cases. The earliest auditors/readers, not being inconvenienced by grammatical and lexical debates, would readily absorb the content and experience little difficulty."

FWIW, both "by power" or "with power" make good sense to me for ἐν δυνάμει. I see no reason to look beyond the plain sense of it.
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Re: Translation in Romans 1:4

Postby Bobby Garringer » April 18th, 2013, 11:20 pm

There is not -- necessarily -- a difference between τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει and τοῦ ὁρισθέντος ἐν δυνάμει υἱοῦ θεοῦ, except that the latter would definitely indicate that ἐν δυνάμει is adverbial. It might still be in the former case as well, but it might also act as an adjective for υἱοῦ θεοῦ (as ἐν πίστει modifies the noun, τέκνῳ in 1 Timothy 1:2); and the former is the actual sequence of words in Romans 1:4.

Furthermore, upon reflection, I can easily conceive how the Roman believers could abound in hope ἐν δυνάμει πνεύματος ἁγίου, as Paul indicates in Romans 15:13, and how Christ worked through Paul ἐν δυνάμει σημείων καὶ τεράτων, ἐν δυνάμει πνεύματος, as stated in Romans 15:18, 19. In the acts themselves, both the "abounding" and the "working" are powerful and spiritual; and the prepositional phrases apply well, adverbially.

But it is difficult for me to picture a powerful appointment, as an act, if this -- the more natural rendering of τοῦ ὁρισθέντος -- is adopted. And I find it about as difficult to imagine a powerful "declaration," as it is often translated. (If Paul meant to say that the metaphorical appointment (or declaration) was, in some way, a forceful act, I would have thought he would have chosen some word more fitting than "power," especially since this word had special significance in early Christian thought, applying directly to the redemptive presence and works of God -- not the metaphors that depict his presence and those acts.) Now the resurrection -- that is the occasion of the metaphorical appointment or declaration -- was powerful, as an act, but then I would have expected δύναμις, in some form, to modify "resurrection" rather than the metaphor.

Put differently, I find it hard to think Paul would say, in translation, something like, "He was powerfully appointed (or declared) to be the Son of God...by the resurrection from among the dead," when he might have said, "He was appointed (or declared) to be the Son of God...by the powerful resurrection from among the dead." And I find it easy to conceive that nothing like either of these was what Paul actually intended. Instead, I believe he meant to say, "He was appointed (or declared) to be the powerful Son of God...by the resurrection from among the dead."
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