Romans 2:14(a) reads:
hOTAN GAR EQNH TA MH NOMON ECONTA FUSEI TA TOU NOMOU POIWSIN
All major English translations that I am aware of take FUSEI with the phrase
following it. The RSV is typical:
"When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires"
However, Cranfield prefers to take FUSEI with the preceding phrase. Here is
his translation (taken from his "Romans: A Shorter Commentary"):
"When Gentiles who do not possess the law by nature actually do the things
which the law requires"
Cranfield explains "by nature" here as "by virtue of their birth".
Cranfield's suggestion parallels what Paul will say later about circumcision in
v. 27, where it is clear that the phrase EK FUSEWS (is this vastly different
than FUSEI?) modifies H AKROBUSTIA ("the uncircumcision") and not TON NOMON
TELOUSA ("fulfill the law"). In other words, no one would say that in v.27 Paul
has the uncircumcision "fulfilling the law by nature" (this is due to the word
order in v.27; EK FUSEWS is in the attributive position).
Is Cranfield way off base here? In particular, is FUSEI = "by birth"
outrageous? (In my mind this was the weak link in his argument, but maybe the
meaning is more natural (pun intended) than I see.)
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