Romans 4:17

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Mike Burke Deactivated
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Romans 4:17

Post by Mike Burke Deactivated » July 11th, 2011, 1:39 am

Romans 4:17 kaqwv gegraptai oti Patera pollwn eqnwn teqeika katenanti ou episteusen qeou tou zwopoiountov touv nekrouv kai kalountov ta mh onta wv onta;

Which is a better translation?

"God, who calls things that are not as though they were"--or "God, who calls things that are not into being"?
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Romans 4:17

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 11th, 2011, 7:51 am

B-Greek isn't about choosing among translations, it's about understanding the Greek.

It's a little hard to read the text you cited, the transliteration scheme turns "s" into "n".

Here's the text in Greek:

καθὼς γέγραπται ὅτι Πατέρα πολλῶν ἐθνῶν τέθεικά σε, κατέναντι οὗ ἐπίστευσεν θεοῦ τοῦ ζῳοποιοῦντος τοὺς νεκροὺς καὶ καλοῦντος τὰ μὴ ὄντα ὡς ὄντα·

I'm not sure how much Greek you know. Do the phrases τὰ μὴ ὄντα and ὡς ὄντα make sense to you?
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Mike Burke Deactivated
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Re: Romans 4:17

Post by Mike Burke Deactivated » July 11th, 2011, 12:09 pm

I'm not sure how much Greek you know. Do the phrases τὰ μὴ ὄντα and ὡς ὄντα make sense to you?Jonathan Robie

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Not really.

What does it mean?

What I'd really like to know is if the text is saying that God calls non-existent things into being?

I've seen some modern translations render it that way, but is that more of a paraphrase (and is it justified by the text)?
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Romans 4:17

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 11th, 2011, 12:56 pm

Mike Burke wrote:
Jonathan Robie wrote:I'm not sure how much Greek you know. Do the phrases τὰ μὴ ὄντα and ὡς ὄντα make sense to you?
Not really.

What does it mean?
This is a fairly complex sentence for a beginner, let me try ...

τὰ ὄντα = the things that are.
τὰ μὴ ὄντα = the things that are not
ὡς ὄντα = roughly, "as things that are"

καλοῦντος is a participle derived from καλέω ...

http://www.laparola.net/greco/parola.ph ... D%B3%CF%89

Code: Select all

Louw-Nida
Gloss	Section
a name	33.129
b call	33.131
c summon	33.307
d call to a task	33.312
e invite	33.315
In this sentence, God is the one who names, calls, summons, or invites "things that are not" as "things that are". That's hard to translate without interpreting in some way, but it helps to see that this is parallel to God being the one who gives life to the dead.
Mike Burke wrote:What I'd really like to know is if the text is saying that God calls non-existent things into being?

I've seen some modern translations render it that way, but is that more of a paraphrase (and is it justified by the text)?
I think that's a reasonable interpretation of the text. If I call a dog that doesn't exist, then I'm a clown if the dog doesn't come, or a miracle worker if the dog does come. If God summons things that do not exist, then they can only answer that summons by first coming into existence. That's how I would understand it.

A more wooden translation would be "calls things that are not as things that are". But what does that mean? I think it's like calling a dog that doesn't exist as though it did - and it implies that the dog actually comes. The reason translation is also called interpretation is that it's not possible to do it without interpreting the text.

Incidentally, what are you doing to learn Greek? I don't know if you are aware of this policy, we do want to keep the focus on the Greek text rather than theology, and we'll nudge you toward working on your own ability to read Greek:
Jonathan Robie wrote:B-Greek is about Greek texts and the Greek language, and most of the forums in B-Greek require a working knowledge of Biblical Greek; that is:
  • recognition of inflected forms of verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs
  • recognition of standard syntactic structures
  • a grasp of principal parts of common irregular verbs, and the ability to recognize them in a text
In the Beginner's Forum, we welcome beginners who do not yet have a working knowledge of Biblical Greek, and are working to learn the language. We want to help. Even basic questions about the meaning of the Greek text are welcome in the Beginner's Forum, and there's no shame in mistakes. Beginners will be gently pushed toward learning these structures over time, pointed to textbooks and other aids that will help them, and coached in how to see these structures in a text. Learning a language is all about learning the structure signals, so we will try to help you learn what these signals are and how to recognize them in a text.

Even in the Beginner's forum, general questions or opinions about doctrine or the meaning of the English text are not welcome.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

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