OIDAMEN or OIDA + MEN
iver_larsen at sil.org
Sun Jul 1 03:37:58 EDT 2001
Mark Wilson wrote:
> Romans 7:14a
> OIDAMEN GAR hOTI hO NOMOS PNEUMATIKAS ESTIN EGO DE SARKINOS EIMI...
> In light of all the first persons in this chapter, I wonder if this
> construct could be a MEN...DE construct:
> OIDA MEN GAR...
> For I know, on the one hand, that...
Several commentators prefer the OIDA MEN option. Douglass Moo gives the
traditional, "modern" view when he says:
"While the first singular reading would bring this verb into conformity with the
others in vv. 14-25 and is therefore preferred by some (e.g. Zahn, Wilckens), it
is suspect, as the "easier" reading, for that same reason."
The construction MEN GAR in second and third position of a sentence is fairly
common in expository texts like Rom 7. It occurs 4 times in Acts, 4-5 times in
Romans, 4 times in 1 Cor, 2 times in 2 Cor and 3 times in Heb. So, Paul
regularly uses MEN GAR.
Paul also uses OIDAMEN GAR, since it occurs twice: Rom 8:22 and 2 Cor 5:1. In
contrast to Rom 7:14 there is no doubt in the manuscript evidence and from
contextual reasons that OIDAMEN GAR is the correct reading in these two places.
Paul also uses OIDA GAR. There are 19 occurrences in the NT of a sentence
initial form of "to know" followed by GAR. Most relevant is the one in Rom 7:18
because it is within the same paragraph.
As Moo points out the reading OIDA MEN GAR is the "easiest". It fits best in
this context and makes the best sense.
Modern textual criticism has a real problem with the principle that rejects the
reading that makes most sense in the context, exactly because it makes the most
sense. To overcome this problem, they sometimes talk about "superficial meaning"
and "deeper meaning", because copyists tend to operate on the more superficial
level. The reading that fits with the deeper meaning is then often considered
original, because the alternative reading can be explained as a mistake
introduced by copyist who lost the overall view of the context while
concentrating on copying. Weighing these conflicting criteria is not easy and
It would be easy for a copyist to (mis)interpret OIDA MEN GAR as OIDAMEN GAR,
because it sounds too exclusive to say that I know that the law is spiritual.
Would the readers not also know this?
But the whole point of Romans 7:14-25 is that the "I" is a rhetorical short-hand
device to describe "he who is bound in his mind to follow the law while bound in
the flesh to follow the power of sin". This is an understanding that runs on a
deeper level and could easily be missed by copyists. The idea is (re-)introduced
here in v. 14, developed in the following verses and summed up in v. 25.
So, I base my translation of Romans 7 on the assumption that Paul wrote OIDA MEN
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