Galatians 2:16 EAN MH

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at
Sat Mar 30 05:03:26 EST 2002

> Glenn, I wasn't suggesting substituting ALLA for EAN MH, since I think EAN
> MH makes perfect sense as is. The idea, in context, is, I think, perhaps
> stronger than could be expressed by ALLA. It not only rules out
> ERGWN NOMOU, but emphasizes that DIKAIWSIS is exclusively DIA
> CRISTOU. It is not just marking an adversative relationship between
> somewhat further in affirming that DIKAIWSIS is exclusively DIA PISTEWS
> IHSOU CRISTOU ("a person is not justified EXCEPT through faith in Jesus
> Christ").
> ============
> Steven Lo Vullo

I would like to support what Steven says here, that EAN MH is different (and
maybe stronger) than ALLA and it affirms that righteousness is obtained
exclusively through faith. It appears that EAN MH may have two slightly
different functions in different contexts. One corresponds to "if not A then
not B" and the other to "only if A then B". (This is linguistic logic rather
than mathematical logic). After Moon's posting I realized that John is
especially fond of this construction.

To capture that sense of exclusiveness in ordinary English, it may be
clearer to translate as two sentences and indicate EAN MH by "It only
happens  by..." I checked how we have done it in the Danish NLT we are
working on. This is a functionally equivalent translation for a non-churched
audience, still in draft form:
"Men vi har indset at intet menneske bliver accepteret af Gud ved at
overholde den jødiske lov. Det sker kun ved tro på Jesus som Frelseren."
Which in English becomes:
"But we have realized that no person is accepted by God through keeping the
Jewish law. It only happens by faith in Jesus as the Saviour".

In addition, I checked all the occurrences of EAN MH in John and changed a
few of them in our translation to "only if A then B" rather than "if not A
then not B". It is often more natural and clear to have two positives with
"only" than two negatives. In many contexts there is no difference in
meaning between these two.
Compare the nuances between the following:
1) Only if a branch abides on the vine, can it bear fruit
2) If a branch does not abide on the vine, it cannot bear fruit on its own
3) A branch cannot bear fruit by itself. It can only bear fruit if it abides
on the vine
4) A branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides on the vine
5) A branch cannot bear fruit by itself if it does not abide on the vine

Iver Larsen

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