Rom 5:12 - εφ ω παντες ημαρτον

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Msindisi
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Joined: June 27th, 2017, 3:40 am

Re: Rom 5:12 - εφ ω παντες ημαρτον

Post by Msindisi » June 27th, 2017, 4:33 am

As the context must govern the referent it would make sense that εΦ ω would signify 'upon which' rather than 'upon whom' for three major reasons.

1. Though Hebrews speaks of Levi being in the loins of Abraham when he paid tithes, the immediate context of Romans 5 does not speak of our pre-existence in Adam but it does speak of our helpless sinful condition, verse 6, 8 and possibly verse 10. Therefore, verse 12 may easily be seen as explaining the reason why we are sinful which speaks of inheriting a sinful condition.

2. The following 2 verses do not speak of sin at the time of the fall but the condition of sin when there was no law. The whole discourse concerns the committing of sin by people and the mastery of death over people who sin. The idea of inheriting guilt would therefore be of secondary importance and tangential to the whole discussion Paul is expounding.

3. There is a logical progression, which makes sense in light of the context. Not a simple chiasmus that has the last point returning back to the same event mentioned in the first point. Not.

A. One man sins.
B. Sin came into the world.
C. Death came into the world through sin.
B'. Death spread to all men.
A'. In Adam all sinned.

Rather A- B' show a consequential progression and so it would make sense that as B' is a consequence of C that A' is also a consequence of B'. Though this argument is not conclusive by itself it is strong in light of arguments numbers 1 & 2.

Secondary strengths of this interpretation, but not decisive points are that, aside from a Pelagian reading of the passage, all viewpoints can agree on this understanding. We all agree that we sin because we have inherited a sin nature. This is consistent with the Jewish concept of 'היצר הרע' 'hayetser Hara' or the evil impulse. It is consistent with the reformed understanding of original sin in the concept that people inherit both sin nature and guilt of Adam's sin. It also agrees with the Arminian view that we inherit the sin nature though not the guilt but become guilty of Adam's sin when we sin in like manner.

Also it preserves a systematic approach from misinterpreting a passage through reading it according to a presupposed theological stance but ties the theology to the exegesis of that passage in a way that is governed by that particular text and minimises the danger of prooftexting.

Thirdly, even people with reformed theological understanding, such as Thomas Schreiner, recognise the strength of the "upon which" argument in his exegetical commentary on Romans (BECNT). Though this is not conclusive regarding the referent in the passage it does raise questions concerning the strength of the argument itself when one whose theology has been heavily influenced by a reformed soteriology disregards the referent that more clearly supports the reformed position even though the interpretation that he sided with does not in itself contradict a reformed understanding of original sin.

Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 1026
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: Rom 5:12 - εφ ω παντες ημαρτον

Post by Barry Hofstetter » June 29th, 2017, 11:02 am

Msindisi wrote:
June 27th, 2017, 4:33 am
As the context must govern the referent it would make sense that εΦ ω would signify 'upon which' rather than 'upon whom' for three major reasons.

1. Though Hebrews speaks of Levi being in the loins of Abraham when he paid tithes, the immediate context of Romans 5 does not speak of our pre-existence in Adam but it does speak of our helpless sinful condition, verse 6, 8 and possibly verse 10. Therefore, verse 12 may easily be seen as explaining the reason why we are sinful which speaks of inheriting a sinful condition.

2. The following 2 verses do not speak of sin at the time of the fall but the condition of sin when there was no law. The whole discourse concerns the committing of sin by people and the mastery of death over people who sin. The idea of inheriting guilt would therefore be of secondary importance and tangential to the whole discussion Paul is expounding.

3. There is a logical progression, which makes sense in light of the context. Not a simple chiasmus that has the last point returning back to the same event mentioned in the first point. Not.

A. One man sins.
B. Sin came into the world.
C. Death came into the world through sin.
B'. Death spread to all men.
A'. In Adam all sinned.

Rather A- B' show a consequential progression and so it would make sense that as B' is a consequence of C that A' is also a consequence of B'. Though this argument is not conclusive by itself it is strong in light of arguments numbers 1 & 2.

Secondary strengths of this interpretation, but not decisive points are that, aside from a Pelagian reading of the passage, all viewpoints can agree on this understanding. We all agree that we sin because we have inherited a sin nature. This is consistent with the Jewish concept of 'היצר הרע' 'hayetser Hara' or the evil impulse. It is consistent with the reformed understanding of original sin in the concept that people inherit both sin nature and guilt of Adam's sin. It also agrees with the Arminian view that we inherit the sin nature though not the guilt but become guilty of Adam's sin when we sin in like manner.

Also it preserves a systematic approach from misinterpreting a passage through reading it according to a presupposed theological stance but ties the theology to the exegesis of that passage in a way that is governed by that particular text and minimises the danger of prooftexting.

Thirdly, even people with reformed theological understanding, such as Thomas Schreiner, recognise the strength of the "upon which" argument in his exegetical commentary on Romans (BECNT). Though this is not conclusive regarding the referent in the passage it does raise questions concerning the strength of the argument itself when one whose theology has been heavily influenced by a reformed soteriology disregards the referent that more clearly supports the reformed position even though the interpretation that he sided with does not in itself contradict a reformed understanding of original sin.
Talk about resurrection, this is quite an old thread. Please note that on B-Greek we focus on on issues of grammar and syntax, understanding the Greek as Greek, and not issues of theology. In this case of Romans 5:12, what tips it for me is not the theological content, but that the phrase is really a stock phrase used adverbially elsewhere, and particularly in the plural, ἐφ οἷς, but not unknown in the singular. Now, whether it's consecutive or causal is a matter of some debate in the history of interpretation. This article by Cranfield is supposed to be quite exhaustive on the subject:

“On Some of the Problems in the Interpretation of Romans 5.12,” SJT 22 (1969): 324–41

But I can't comment further since the Scottish Journal of Theology is not accessible through JSTOR (the first time I've been let down on that regard).
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
ἐγὼ δὲ διδάσκω τε καὶ γράφω ἵνα τὰ ἀξιώτερα μανθάνω

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