Clunky Rom 1:8-17 – The translational issues get real

In this passage we start to deal with some of the nitty-gritty problems of translating Romans, particularly what to with words with the roots δικ- and  πιστ-. For δικ-, do you choose to consistently use English words with the right– root or the just– root? Or do you switch back and forth depending on the context?

Similarly with πιστ-, do you choose faith, trust, belief/believe? Particularly, what about πιστις? Faith? Faithfulness? Belief? Trust? Trustworthiness? Or interestingly, the option noted in LSJ (p. 1408 or here ) of “that which gives confidence: hence…means of persuasion, argument, proof.” Given the interest in the last few decades in Paul’s use of rhetoric and its importance for understanding his letters, it seems surprising that we have not heard more about this use of πιστις and its potential for illuminating what Paul is trying to say.

The upshot of these issues for the task at hand is that I have included a limited set of the variety of possible options for these important terms separated with virgules. While this is exceptionally clunky (you were warned!), there is no other way I can think of to keep students mindful of, say, the dual sense of righteous (religious) + just (legal/secular) present in the word δικαιος.

Note: implied elements or alternate ways of saying things (e.g., “barbarians” for “non-Greeks”) are set in brackets.

Romans 1:8-17

8 First, I thank my God for you all through Jesus the anointed one because your faith/belief is proclaimed in the whole cosmos 9 for my witness is the God whom I worship in my spirit in the great-announcement of his son, how I make remembrance of you all unceasingly, 10 always in my prayers mentioning if somehow at some time I might be put in the right way in the will of God to come to you, 11 for I am longing to see you in order that I might pass on [to you all] a spiritual gift-of-favor unto you being made firm, 12 and this is, to be encouraged together among you, through your faith/belief and mine, among one another. 13 But I do not want you to be unknowing, siblings, that many times I publicly displayed/made known [my desire] to come to you in order that I might reap some fruit among you just as also among the other non-Jews [Gentiles]—but have been hindered until now. 14 To the Greeks and non-Greeks [“barbarians”], to the wise and to the mindless, I am a debtor. 15 Just so, I am eager to give-the-great-announcement also to you in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the great-announcement, for it is the power of God unto deliverance for all those believing/trusting, for the Jew first and for the Greek. 17 For the righteousness/justice of God in him is revealed, from faith/belief/trust unto faith/belief/trust, just as it is written, “The one who is righteous/just from believing/trusting will live.” [Hab. 2:4]


One thought on “Clunky Rom 1:8-17 – The translational issues get real

  1. Pingback: Romans Paraphrases Galore

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