Verses which need to be read in the Grk
Jon R. Venema
Grammata at compuserve.com
Thu Dec 31 11:42:03 EST 1998
For a course I will be teaching this winter I am looking for suggestions of
verses which truly lose a lot in the translation, verses which show the
of being able to read the New Testament in Greek. Please suggest a verse
two and explain why it needs to be read in the Greek. Thank you for your
An example that jumps to mind for me, is James 2:14. I believe it may
serve as a
suitable example for at least two reasons: (1) students generally have a
acquaintance with the verse and a personal stake of some kind in the
the verse, and (2) the "insight" is easy to explain; it does not call for a
explanation of Greek grammar (one need not go into the conditional
indirect discourse, etc.).
I recall my own sense of illumination when, years ago, I first read the
verse in Greek
and noted what I take to be the anaphoric (a word or phrase that takes its
from another word or phrase and especially from a preceding word or phrase
of the second occurrence of PISTIS with the article (hH PISTIS) in a
question with MH.
Some of the standard English translations pick up the anaphor with "his
or "that faith" (NASB), but others simply render it "faith" (NRSV, KJV). I
reproduced theses translations in full below.
In my view, the articular PISTIS makes it clear that the question, if
the referent to the previous claim in view, may be UNDERSTOOD something
this: "Such a faith as that (faith without any works) cannot save him can
No doubt, any combination of the words FAITH and WORKS are for some loaded.
Still, I suspect that an ET like that of the KJV ("can faith save him?") or
faith save you?") are significantly enriched if not clarified.
At minimum, without becoming entangled in the Dogmatics or old Paul vs.
debate, it appears we are to understand that in James, "faith that saves"
or fuller than a mere claim ("I have faith")--such faith will evidence
itself in ERGA (2:18).
Jason, you might also examine Mounce, Basics of Biblial Greek, if you have
already. Most chapters open with 3/4 page treatments of NT
each by a different "guest" contributor. The sum effect is to provide the
example of how knowing Greek (grammar) makes a difference to the English
reader of the NT.
I hope this is a small help,
Jon R. Venema
RSV James 2:14 What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he
has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?
NRSV James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you
say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?
NASB James 2:14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he
has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?
KJV James 2:14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say
he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
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