Thu, 09 May 1996 17:39 -0500 (EST)

TO: Kerry Honeycutt
FROM: Harry J. Harm
DATE: 9 May 1996

You asked:

> My question is this: In reference to the 7th chapter of Romans, the
> greek word "sarx" is rendered "flesh" in the KJV and the NAS, but
> "sinful nature" in the NIV. Of the top 101 most used translations
> of the word in the NIV, only 28 make any reference to sin. The
> balance refer to the flesh, the body, or the human being in general,
> usually in a physical context. Can anyone tell me why the NIV would
> translate a word predominantly used to express a physical state of
> being in a context laden with reference to the physical into words
> dealing with the inner, spiritual condition of man? I do
> understand that the word "sarx" has no exact equal in English, but
> there must be a better reason that that.

Louw & Nida in Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on
Semantic Domains list eight possible meanings for SARX. One meaning
26.7 has the following:

26.7 - SARX, SARKOS f: the psychological aspect of human nature; in
other words, that aspect of human nature which is characterized by
or reflects typical human reasoning and desires in contrast with
those aspects of human thought and behavior which relate to God
and the spiritual life - 'human nature, human aspects, natural,
human.' ...Some scholars understand the meaning of SARX as being a
person's 'lower nature' rather than simply 'human nature,' but the
distinction between lower nature and higher nature seems to be
primarily one arising out of typical Greek thought rather than out
of the Semitic background which seems to be so pervasive in the
use of the term SARX in such contexts in the NT. There are, of
course, contexts in which SARX does refer to that psychological
factor in man which serves as a willing instrument of sin and is
subject to sin.

Does this shed any light on the subject?

Harry J. Harm -
translation consultant to the Choctaw Bible Translation Committee