ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς παραπτώματος in Romans 5:18

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ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς παραπτώματος in Romans 5:18

Postby Jonathan Boyd » May 14th, 2013, 5:18 pm

15 Ἀλλ’ οὐχ ὡς τὸ παράπτωμα, οὕτως καὶ τὸ χάρισμα· εἰ γὰρ τῷ τοῦ ἑνὸς παραπτώματι οἱ πολλοὶ ἀπέθανον, πολλῷ μᾶλλον ἡ χάρις τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἡ δωρεὰ ἐν χάριτι τῇ τοῦ ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς τοὺς πολλοὺς ἐπερίσσευσεν. 16 καὶ οὐχ ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς ἁμαρτήσαντος τὸ δώρημα· τὸ μὲν γὰρ κρίμα ἐξ ἑνὸς εἰς κατάκριμα, τὸ δὲ χάρισμα ἐκ πολλῶν παραπτωμάτων εἰς δικαίωμα. 17 εἰ γὰρ τῷ τοῦ ἑνὸς παραπτώματι ὁ θάνατος ἐβασίλευσεν διὰ τοῦ ἑνός, πολλῷ μᾶλλονοἱ τὴν περισσείαν τῆς χάριτος καὶ τῆς δωρεᾶς τῆς δικαιοσύνης λαμβάνοντες ἐν ζωῇ βασιλεύσουσιν διὰ τοῦ ἑνὸς Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 18 Ἄρα οὖν ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς παραπτώματος εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους εἰς κατάκριμα, οὕτως καὶ δι’ ἑνὸς δικαιώματος εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους εἰς δικαίωσιν ζωῆς· 19 ὥσπερ γὰρ διὰ τῆς παρακοῆς τοῦ ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου ἁμαρτωλοὶ κατεστάθησαν οἱ πολλοί, οὕτως καὶ διὰ τῆς ὑπακοῆς τοῦ ἑνὸς δίκαιοι κατασταθήσονται οἱ πολλοί. 20 νόμος δὲ παρεισῆλθεν ἵνα πλεονάσῃ τὸ παράπτωμα·

In v. 18, I was surprised to see that many translations take ἑνὸς in the phrase ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς παραπτώματος as an adjective modifying παραπτώματος, instead of referring to the "transgression of one," namely of Adam. They also take the second clause in the same way, referring to the "one act of righteousness" instead of the "act of righteousness of one." It seems to me that the context throughout is clear that the contrast is between Adam and Christ, and that the contrast between δι’ ἑνὸς and εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους would better fit the understanding that ἑνὸς refers to Adam, and later in the verse to Christ. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?
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Re: ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς παραπτώματος in Romans 5:18

Postby Barry Hofstetter » May 15th, 2013, 6:10 am

Just a quick answer, Jonathon. I note that the ESV gives a note giving your reading as an alternate translation. But as to why, εἷς is adjectival, is right next to vocabulary items in the same number, gender and case, and certainly is an allowable translation from context. I'm not sure this can be answered purely by looking at the Greek, but only from larger contextual and exegetical considerations.
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Re: ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς παραπτώματος in Romans 5:18

Postby Alan Patterson » May 15th, 2013, 3:27 pm

Jonathan,

These translations are contrasting the "act" of a man, not the person himself (Adam or Jesus). Obviously you can not completely separate the act from the one acting, but apparently the translation committees all see it as a passage referencing the act of one.

Notice vs 17:

ει γαρ τω του ενος παραπτωματι ο θανατος εβασιλευσεν δια του ενος πολλω μαλλον οι την περισσειαν της χαριτος και [της δωρεας] της δικαιοσυνης λαμβανοντες εν ζωη βασιλευσουσιν δια του ενος ιησου χριστου (WH)

The preposition δια seems to refer to the results of an act THROUGH a man. The "one man" is not an after thought, but it would seem the emphasis is on the act.
χαρις υμιν και ειρηνη,
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Re: ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς παραπτώματος in Romans 5:18

Postby Stephen Carlson » May 15th, 2013, 5:01 pm

The NRSV and RSV have "one man's trespass" etc. These are major translations. It seems to me that there is a real syntactic ambiguity here, and one needs a careful examination of the context and Paul's thought to come to a well-grounded position.
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Re: ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς παραπτώματος in Romans 5:18

Postby Jonathan Boyd » May 15th, 2013, 5:46 pm

I agree that there is real ambiguity in this passage. Do you think the lack of an article in the phrase ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς παραπτώματος (v. 18) is the factor that lead many to translate it as "one trespass"?

In v. 16 the phrase καὶ οὐχ ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς ἁμαρτήσαντος τὸ δώρημα unambiguously refers to the one who sinned and doesn't have the article, which would seem to indicate that the article is not the deciding factor.
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Re: ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς παραπτώματος in Romans 5:18

Postby Stephen Carlson » May 16th, 2013, 2:50 am

Jonathan Boyd wrote:I agree that there is real ambiguity in this passage. Do you think the lack of an article in the phrase ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς παραπτώματος (v. 18) is the factor that lead many to translate it as "one trespass"?


I can't really speak to what others were thinking, but in my case I would have thought that the lack of an article should have favored the "one trespass" interpretation until I read Stephen Levinsohn's work on discourse features in NT Greek and learned that the lack of article for preverbal constituents is pretty common when they are in focus (emphasized).

Jonathan Boyd wrote:In v. 16 the phrase καὶ οὐχ ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς ἁμαρτήσαντος τὸ δώρημα unambiguously refers to the one who sinned and doesn't have the article, which would seem to indicate that the article is not the deciding factor.
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Re: ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς παραπτώματος in Romans 5:18

Postby chrisdrymon » May 16th, 2013, 9:37 pm

Jonathan Boyd wrote:I agree that there is real ambiguity in this passage. Do you think the lack of an article in the phrase ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς παραπτώματος (v. 18) is the factor that lead many to translate it as "one trespass"?


If that is the factor, I think they would perhaps be mistaken. Some time ago, I did a very cursory look, and you'll only find articles in something like... 35% of prepositional phrases in the NT/LXX. A more helpful observation would be figuring out how often they are not there when you would expect them to be. I don't know the answer to that one, but the fact that articles do occur that infrequently within them tells me prepositional phrases have a tendency to gobble them up; perhaps even to the extent that retaining the article might actually be the notable thing. Beyond that, I don't know what the method to the articular madness is within prepositional phrases. Dr. Carlson points to at least one person whose research may have some intersection with the phenomenon. I'd be very surprised if others have not looked into it specifically.

As to your bigger question, I have no insight. Sorry!
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Re: ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς παραπτώματος in Romans 5:18

Postby Jonathan Boyd » May 17th, 2013, 4:41 pm

Stephen and Chris,

Thanks for your comments. They were very helpful, and I must admit that it was good to revisit Levinsohn's work. In looking at Dunn's commentary on 5:18 (WBC, 1:283), he says that "The ἑνὸς could be taken as neuter . . . but most understandably prefer to take it as a masculine . . ." He goes on to say, "But we should recall that the Greek allows a degree of ambiguity not easy to retain in translation."

I'm not a linguist, but it seems to me that this is not a good understanding of ambiguity. I can understand certain phrases as crafted to be intentionally ambiguous (in the gospel acc. to John for example), but in this verse I can't imagine Paul would have tried to leave it ambiguous to capture both senses. Or would he?
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Re: ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς παραπτώματος in Romans 5:18

Postby Stephen Carlson » May 18th, 2013, 5:44 am

Jonathan Boyd wrote:Stephen and Chris,

Thanks for your comments. They were very helpful, and I must admit that it was good to revisit Levinsohn's work. In looking at Dunn's commentary on 5:18 (WBC, 1:283), he says that "The ἑνὸς could be taken as neuter . . . but most understandably prefer to take it as a masculine . . ." He goes on to say, "But we should recall that the Greek allows a degree of ambiguity not easy to retain in translation."

I'm not a linguist, but it seems to me that this is not a good understanding of ambiguity. I can understand certain phrases as crafted to be intentionally ambiguous (in the gospel acc. to John for example), but in this verse I can't imagine Paul would have tried to leave it ambiguous to capture both senses. Or would he?

Personally, I think that intentional ambiguity (where the meaning could be one of two distinct options) is fairly rare and should not be accepted by the exegete except as a last resort. (More common than intentional ambiguity--in my opinion--is vagueness, where it could be somewhat unclear what could be meant among two indistinct possibilities that have something in common. But not all exegetes are clear on the distinction between ambiguity and vagueness)

However, when I said that I think is syntactically ambiguous it doesn't mean that the expression can't be disambiguated in non-syntactic ways. In this case, I think that the phrase τῷ τοῦ ἑνὸς παραπτώματι in the preceding verse 17 probably indicates what is intended in v.18. A real difficulty for us includes those cases where prosody (how the text is phrased) could have easily communicated the right meaning but, unfortunately, we no longer have access to that. So we have to rely on a close reading of the context and hoping to get the mind of Paul right.

Fortunately, here, the two exegetical possibilities are not far apart, especially in a propositional sense, because there is a one-to-one correspondence between Adam/Christ and their respective act of transgression/righteousness.
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Re: ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς παραπτώματος in Romans 5:18

Postby Jonathan Boyd » May 18th, 2013, 8:26 am

Stephen,

I'm in agreement with you on ambiguity, and I like the distinction between ambiguity and vagueness. I also didn't know the term prosody, but that is also a helpful concept.

Thanks!
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