Meeting Times at 4th United Presbyterian Church

Cafe' Worship: 9:15 a.m. each Sunday in Gathering Hall (activities provided for children; coffee; snacks)
Adult Sunday School: 10 a.m.

Sunday Worship: 11 a.m.

Bible Study: each Thursday at 6 p.m.

Community Forum: last Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. with meal (no community forum in November, 2011)

About the 4th United Presbyterian Bible Blog

Posts on this blog are from me, Rev. George H. Waters, one of the two organizing co-pastors of 4th United Presbyterian Church. Our other organizing pastor was Rev. Sonya McAuley-Allen, who is now pastor of a church in Charlotte, N.C. Since June of 2011, Rev. Elizabeth Peterson has been our parish associate pastor for new church development. The earliest posts are sermon notes from the few I have typed the last two years. Then, there is a series of notes posted on the book of Romans. After that, it varies from week to week, sometimes church news, sometimes reflections on a happening, a passage of scripture, or even some pictures. This blog is meant to open the conversation we have going on in our church to others in our community.

The picture below is of our church's sanctuary, built in 1913.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Romans 3:21-26 "The Greek is a Mess"

Paul's use of Greek is usually pretty clear, but here, it doesn't seem like him at all. I almost have trouble believing he wrote these words. Many scholars suspect that he has adopted some early creedal summary of the church that he didn't write and has included it perhaps because it was meaningful to the Romans. I don't know about this. But, a literal translation of the Greek at v. 25 ends with something that really doesn't make much sense at all. So, even scholars who are very proficient in Greek are making some big guesses when it comes to verses 25-26, but most especially verse 25!

I will start with a translation of 3:21-24 which can be done with some confidence, and then I want to move to a translation of v. 26 which can be done with a little less confidence, but still it can be done. And, I want to act as if v. 25 has been lost, but we know a v. 25 exists. From the context surrounding v. 25 (vv. 21-24 & v. 26), I want to guess what I would have expected to have been in verse 25.

But, I'll have to get back to this a little later.

I can get a start before leaving this behind for other work:

"Now, separate from the law, God's righteousness has been and is being revealed, the very righteousness to which the law and prophets could point but could not bring about, that righteousness of God that comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ to all people who rejoice and participate in this faithful way of Jesus with God. In this revelation of God's righteousness through Jesus, it is shown that there is no distinction between people since all have sinned and lack the glory of God, being made righteous by the gift of God's grace through the freeing power that is in Christ Jesus,"

Note: "the Greek word apolutroseos can be translated as "release" or "redemption," having the sense of an exchange of some value given to procure physical freedom or freedom from financial debt (which in those days debt often meant loss of liberty). I wonder if the Greek will bear the translation "through the redemption of Christ Jesus" ????? The preposition "ev" makes this unlikely.

Now, I know that not everybody reads Greek, so bear with me until I get through this part. I am just not willing to accept English translations any more on sections of the Bible where the translation involves a huge interpretive decision because the Greek is difficult to render into English. When I hit these sections, I am digging in to give myself some peace of mind that I have actually heard what was originally written, instead of being cut off from it by a big "interpretive" decision of a translator. But, I will have worked through this in a day or two, and then we will be back to english as usual until I run into another passage like this, which won't happen very often in Romans.

I will move to v. 26 next, and then go back and make some guesses about what I would think v. 25 would be about in light of its context, and then the hard work of really translating with the help of others guesses as well.

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