What does this text mean? Romans 3:23

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Please quote the Greek text you are discussing directly in your post if it is reasonably short - do not ask people to look it up. This is not a beginner's forum, competence in Greek is assumed.
Eiji Koyama
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Re: What does this text mean? Romans 3:23

Post by Eiji Koyama » July 14th, 2011, 8:04 pm

" This passage simply states that everybody fails, everybody misses it." It sounds really good to me.
So, do you think the translation of "can't receive" for "ὑστεροῦνται" could be missing the point?
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David Lim
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Re: What does this text mean? Romans 3:23

Post by David Lim » July 14th, 2011, 9:22 pm

Eiji Koyama wrote:" This passage simply states that everybody fails, everybody misses it." It sounds really good to me.
So, do you think the translation of "can't receive" for "ὑστεροῦνται" could be missing the point?
I think we should consider what the text means (intends to say), and it may be worthwhile to consider what it could have been if it intended to say something like "ου δυνανται λαβειν" (see John 14:17). There must be a reason for the difference. :)
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Jason Hare
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Re: What does this text mean? Romans 3:23

Post by Jason Hare » July 15th, 2011, 7:31 am

Eiji Koyama wrote:" This passage simply states that everybody fails, everybody misses it." It sounds really good to me.
So, do you think the translation of "can't receive" for "ὑστεροῦνται" could be missing the point?
If I may respond to this, yes - I feel this misses the essence of what the Greek is saying. It is saying that everyone falls short of perfection. It doesn't say anything about possibility here. "Can" indicates a possibility, and "can't" impossibility. That information isn't contained in the Greek.
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Jason A. Hare
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cwconrad
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Re: What does this text mean? Romans 3:23

Post by cwconrad » July 15th, 2011, 7:59 am

David Lim wrote:
Eiji Koyama wrote:" This passage simply states that everybody fails, everybody misses it." It sounds really good to me.
So, do you think the translation of "can't receive" for "ὑστεροῦνται" could be missing the point?
I think we should consider what the text means (intends to say), and it may be worthwhile to consider what it could have been if it intended to say something like "ου δυνανται λαβειν" (see John 14:17). There must be a reason for the difference. :)
(a) In response to Elji: I think you must realize that translations don't necessarily attempt to convey the literal content of the original; indeed, when the language is metaphorical, as it is here, the translators will often represent what they understand to be the intended meaning of the text in a way that conveys the sense of the text best in the target language. There are a number of ways the sense of ὑστεροῦνται could be expressed in idiomatic English, for instance: "they're missing the boat," "they're left behind," they're out of luck," "they're losing the race," "they've lost the prize" or "they're not taking the prize." This last suggestion comes close to what the translation you've cited says; it shouldn't be deemed wrong if it conveys the essential meaning of what the Greek text intends to assert.

(b) In response to David: I'm not at all sure what "difference" you're referring to here that needs explaining. You seem to be speculating that Paul might have written what GJohn writes in 14:17 and that there's some reason that he didn't write that. I would think that we're in agreement that ὑστεροῦνται has a metaphorical sense. The question that Elji is raising, it seems to me, is not so much a matter of understanding what the Greek text itself means, but whether a particular translation of that text accurately conveys what the Greek text asserts. One thing seems reasonably clear: ἥμαρτον and ὑστεροῦνται have a parallel sense: both verbs point to the "lost" and "helpless" status of all humanity. Unquestionably there are several other ways of conveying that sense which is here expressed by ἥμαρτον and ὑστεροῦνται. I think that speculation about why the author chose this metaphor in particular over some hypothetical alternative that we don't even have reason to suppose he had in mind is fruitless.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

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