Interpretation of Rom 4:1

Moon-Ryul Jung moon at sogang.ac.kr
Sat Jan 26 04:38:35 EST 2002


Dear Glenn, Iver:

thanks for your detailed analysis of the problem.
  
> > 3)  Four seemed ambiguous in a manner similar to Romans 4.1
> 
> Ro 7:7
> Ro 9.14
> Ro 9:30
> 1Co 10:19
> 
>[1] 
> If in Rom 4.1 EROUMEN is taken with the TI OUN clause, then one is left wit=
> h
> an infinitival clause which must be the complement of some elided finite
> verb.  The last two examples above are similar except that the complements
> are hOTI clauses rather than infinitival clauses.

You stated the issue clearly. hOTI clauses can stand alone as the
compliments of the elided verb EROUMEN. But it is not clear if infinitival
clauses can do so. In the case of Rom 4.1, therefore, I would prefer to
attach EROUMEN
to the infinitival clause, in order not to make it stand alone. 

James Dunn in his commentary on Romans said this against Hay's rendering:

The beginning of a sentence with an accusative and infinitival
construction
where the accusative was unstated would be rather odd.
This problem can be solved in the following parsing:

TI OUN? EROUMEN EURHKENAI ABRAAM PROPATORA HMWN KATA SARKA?

In this case, the accusative (semantic subject) for infinitival 
clause EURHKENAI ABRAAM PROPATORA HMWN KATA SARKA can be readily
supplied from the main verb EROUMEN. 

TI OUN can be used as a sentence on its own. It makes sense without
supplying the omitted parts. So, we can almost say that there is no
ellipsis in TI OUN. Similarly, in the case of verbless clauses, 
we do not have to talk about the omission of ESTIN, either. 
In my parsing,we can avoid the very problem whether the ellipsis of
EROUMEN in front of complement infinitival clauses is natural, 
because there is [almost] no ellipsis.      

[2]
When, is the possibility of the following parsing?
> TI*  OUN  EROUMEN  {hEURHKENAI ____* ABRAAM TON PROPATOPA hHMWN DATA SARKA}
> "What then shall we say that Abraham our forefather . . . has found?"
> 
> with the hEURHKENAI clause serving as the complement of EROUMEN, ABRAAM as
> the subject of hEURHKENAI, and TI as the complement of hEURHKENAI but, as a=
> n
> interrogative, moved outside the matrix sentence.  Abraham discovery
> something is more consistent with the following verse anyway ("Abraham not
> having something to boast about") then we discovering something, and this
> analysis seems less clumsy than Hays' approach.

It seems that "What then? Shall we say that we have found Abraham to be
our forefather according to flesh?", to which the expected answer is no, 
matches better the flow of Rom 3:27-31, where it is argued that God is not
God of Jews only, but of Gentiles as well and thus he justifies both by
means of faith. Romans 4 argues that Abraham is forefather of all those
who believe,
both Jews and Gentiles. He was to be the heir of the world. IF IN FACT
ABRAHAM IS FOREFATHER ONLY TO JEWS, we would have to say that GOD IS GOD
OF JEWS ONLY.
So, it can be very well argued that the issue raised in Rom 4.1 was not
what Abraham found but whether we have found Abraham to be our forefather
according to flesh [i.e. ethnic relationship]. In sum, Rom 4 argues that
Gentiles can belong to Abraham claiming him forefather by faith in Jesus
Christ. 

Anyway, Glenn, I always thought that the traditional translation of Rom
4.1
sounds too complicated. I would be interested in knowing other instances 
of GREEK setences where TI is not the object of the main verb but is
the object of the complement clause moved front from the clause. It seems
akward for Paul to utter such a 'distorted and long sentence" at the very
important moment in his speech. "What then?" "Do you want to say that
Abraham
is your forefather just according to flesh?" makes a more forceful speech
than the traditional translation would do.   

Moon
Moon R. Jung
Sogang Univ, Seoul, Korea



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