Galatians 2:15, agreement of adjective

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timatcarterclan
Posts: 7
Joined: June 10th, 2014, 4:12 am

Galatians 2:15, agreement of adjective

Post by timatcarterclan » June 10th, 2014, 5:43 am

Hi,

I must be having a bad day. In Galatians 2:15. Ἡμεῖς φύσει Ἰουδαῖοι καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἐθνῶν ἁμαρτωλοί, I can see that the first and second clauses are fairly strongly separated by the conjunction which I guess leads to the standard translation, "We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners." NRSV

However, the final adjective, ἁμαρτωλοί does not agree in gender or case with the noun ἐθνῶν, but it does agree with Ἡμεῖς and Ἰουδαῖοι. So why do we not translate it, "We, by nature Jews and not Gentiles, are sinful."

thanks,

Tim
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Wes Wood
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Joined: September 20th, 2013, 8:18 pm

Re: Galatians 2:15, agreement of adjective

Post by Wes Wood » June 10th, 2014, 10:49 am

I believe the major difficulty you are having here is that you have classified the word translated "sinners" as an adjective. It is a noun. Try working through this text again after carefully parsing this word and see what you get.
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Ἀσπάζομαι μὲν καὶ φιλῶ, πείσομαι δὲ μᾶλλον τῷ θεῷ ἢ ὑμῖν.-Ἀπολογία Σωκράτους 29δ

timatcarterclan
Posts: 7
Joined: June 10th, 2014, 4:12 am

Re: Galatians 2:15, agreement of adjective

Post by timatcarterclan » June 10th, 2014, 11:23 am

Hi Wes,

I agree that if it is a noun then the usual translation stands, but I'm interested to learn how one can tell that it's a noun.

My dictionary indicates that it's an adjective, Strong's indicates that it's an adjective, and Duff suggests that adjectival nouns are accompanied by an article. So all the tools I have are pointing me towards it being an adjective.

Thanks,

Tim
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Stephen Hughes
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Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Ἰουδαῖος / ἁμαρτωλός nouns or adjectives?

Post by Stephen Hughes » June 10th, 2014, 1:01 pm

Wes Wood wrote:you have classified the word translated "sinners" as an adjective. It is a noun.
Both Ἰουδαῖος and ἁμαρτωλός are first adjectives, and in some cases they can be substantivised to function as nouns. What makes you sure they are nouns here? It is not self-evident from only the individual words.

[BTW: ἐθνῶν is genitive BECAUSE it follows a preposition ἐξ (a form of ἐκ). It is always grammatically neuter]
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Wes Wood
Posts: 692
Joined: September 20th, 2013, 8:18 pm

Re: Galatians 2:15, agreement of adjective

Post by Wes Wood » June 10th, 2014, 1:29 pm

Fair point and better the more I think about it. The reason I took it the way that I did is that it seems to me to be referring to the people that make up the groups more that the characteristics of the groups themselves. I am glad you asked. You pointed out several unconscious assumptions.
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Ἀσπάζομαι μὲν καὶ φιλῶ, πείσομαι δὲ μᾶλλον τῷ θεῷ ἢ ὑμῖν.-Ἀπολογία Σωκράτους 29δ

Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

I do agree with you

Post by Stephen Hughes » June 10th, 2014, 2:06 pm

I do agree with your earlier assertion. But this text and a lot of Hebrews needs a different way of dealing with Greek, in which the sum total of the parts is about 20% greater than the sum of the parts than other styles of Greek. In that way it is similar to poetic Greek. But of course, it's not poetry.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Wes Wood
Posts: 692
Joined: September 20th, 2013, 8:18 pm

Re: Galatians 2:15, agreement of adjective

Post by Wes Wood » June 10th, 2014, 2:42 pm

I appreciate it, and I know what you are saying is true. Hebrews (and the lists of sins and vices found in the writings that are less or more attributed to Paul) brutalizes me more than any other book in the New Testament. Your question was particularly helpful for me because, in my English speaking brain, I have difficulty thinking of that particular word as anything other than a noun.

Edited once: fixed a typo.
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Ἀσπάζομαι μὲν καὶ φιλῶ, πείσομαι δὲ μᾶλλον τῷ θεῷ ἢ ὑμῖν.-Ἀπολογία Σωκράτους 29δ

David Lim
Posts: 901
Joined: June 6th, 2011, 6:55 am

Re: Galatians 2:15, agreement of adjective

Post by David Lim » June 17th, 2014, 7:00 am

Wes Wood wrote:I believe the major difficulty you are having here is that you have classified the word translated "sinners" as an adjective. It is a noun. Try working through this text again after carefully parsing this word and see what you get.
It is an adjective, even here, just as "ιουδαιος" (Jewish) and "American" are each an adjective but can function as a noun phrase in the absence of a noun that it modifies.
timatcarterclan wrote:I must be having a bad day. In Galatians 2:15. Ἡμεῖς φύσει Ἰουδαῖοι καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἐθνῶν ἁμαρτωλοί, I can see that the first and second clauses are fairly strongly separated by the conjunction which I guess leads to the standard translation, "We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners." NRSV

However, the final adjective, ἁμαρτωλοί does not agree in gender or case with the noun ἐθνῶν, but it does agree with Ἡμεῖς and Ἰουδαῖοι. So why do we not translate it, "We, by nature Jews and not Gentiles, are sinful."
The reason is that the phrase has the following grammatical structure:
"{ ημεις } ( φυσει ) { { ιουδαιοι } και { ουκ { ( εξ εθνων ) αμαρτωλοι } } }"
In English:
"we (by nature) [are] Jews and not sinful [ones] out of [the] nations"
The basic sentence is:
"ημεις ιουδαιοι και ουχ αμαρτωλοι" = "we [are] Jews and not sinful [ones]"
An underlying assumption in this phrase is that those people of the nations (other than the Jews) are (by nature) sinful.
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δαυιδ λιμ

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