Re. Spiritual vs Reasonable (Rom. 12:1)
Tue, 24 Sep 1996 09:30:20 +0000

To the list:

Although many will do this in a much more scholarly fashion and with
much more eloquence, I cannot help but add a little from a rather
simplistic pastor's apprehension of the Greek text. I have not had
time to consult other authorities to see if my remarks are way off
base. I am sure I'll find our if they are!

Andrew wrote:

>I am currently studying Romans 12 and I noted the NIV's unusual
>rendering of the word LOGIKA as 'spiritual'.

>I don't understand why the committee decided on this rendering.
>The footnote gives the more traditional rendering 'reasonable'.
>The NIV is usually very good in its choices of renderings (and is
>my first choice for a translation) but I think this maybe one of those
>instances of (dare I say) not so good judgement.

>Can anybody share any light on the 'spiritual' rendering?
>Is there a good reason for it?

I believe our problem is a modern understanding of the term
reasonable which misses the point Paul is making, which is with "one's
entire being..," and not reasonable in the sense of what is balanced
and sensible.

LOGIKHN-Becomes "spiritual" because of the extension of the idea
intrinsic to LEGW where it has to do with what lays behind mere
speech in the mind, soul, and spirit. Thus is must refer to a
sacrifice of our bodies to God which involves service from the whole
being, sacrifice expressed in service through the physical body but
involving the commitment of the mind, soul and spirit. If LOGIKHN
does in fact imply the entire being which underlies mere speech and
gives rise to it, then "spiritual" is simply a more descriptive way
of saying this in unique terms that are applicble to what we
understand as discipleship of Jesus Christ, rather than in terms
which imply simply the involvement of the mind, or mere mental

The choice may have been governed by Paul's use of the word
LATREIAN, which surely is an allusion to, along with QUSIAN, the OT
sacrificial system and its "service" to God in that context. In
fact, the same word is used by Jesus when tempted by the devil to
worship him. (Luke 4:8) The Lord's reply was that God alone is the
one to worship (PROSKUNEW), and he alone should be served (LATREUW),
where the devil had asked not for service but devotion (PROSKUNEW).
Service and worship seem to be bound up with one another in the
economy of the Scriptures, so that to worship God means to render him
service, and Christ fully and readily understood the implications of
giving any reverence whatsoever to Satan. The Scripture that Christ
uses in rebuttal (Deut. 6:13) certainly holds to this interpretation
with its dual focus on reverence and service, and I suspect, although
I do not know because I have no access to it, that the LXX
translates it with this same word, making this an almost direct
quotation by Christ. This leads to the translation, "...this is
your spiritual act of worship," where emphasis on the involvement of
the spirit as representative of the whole being may be more
prominent than the emphasis on the mind for the same reason.

Paul F. Evans
Thunder Swamp P. H. Church
North Carolina
(Endeavouring to make use of NT Greek in a real live ministry!)