Galatians 2:16 EAN MH

Glenn Blank glennblank at
Fri Mar 29 16:35:06 EST 2002

I wrote,

>So should I conclude
>that EAN MH and ALLA share a logical structure in Greek in a way that "but"
>and "if not" do not in English?  Or did Paul choose EAN MH instead of ALLA
>for some type of rhetorical effect?  Or?

Steve wrote (I think, but I am paraphrasing here) that the text is clearly
saying that we are not justified by the works of the law but by faith in

I still contend, though, that

>changing EAN MH to ALLA makes the text say something different than
>what it does

But having said that, I must back up and recall an exchange I had with Paul
Dixon several months ago regarding Acts 2:38:

"A conditional does not necessarily imply its negation"

<if A then B> does not necessarily mean <if not A then not B>

So let
A = "a man is justified by faith in Jesus Christ"
B = "a man is justified by works of the law"

Galatians 2:16 says in effect,  

1) <if not A, then not B>
or to paraphrase, "If you don't have faith in Christ, works of the law won't
justify you."

Now to say this leaves ambiguous whether

2) <if A, then B> or
3) <if A, then not B>

or to paraphrase, whether it is the case that
"if I have faith in Christ, then I am justified by the works of the law"  or
"it is faith in Christ that justifies me, and not the works of the law."

If however, the text was ALLA instead of EAN MH, then there would be no
amibiguity:  the logical structure would be

4) <not B, and A>,

However, even though Gal 2.16 is not as explicit as (4), the context of the
chapter points toward <not B>, and Eph 2.9 explicitly says <not B>, which
narrows us down to (3) above,
so that the bottom line is the same whether ALLA or EAN MH.

Which brings me to the question I ended my last post with:  why EAN MH? 
What rhetorical effect does it have that making the propositions explicit
with ALLA would not have?

glenn blank
Pensacola FL

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