Re: Rom 2:3

Carl W. Conrad (
Sat, 28 Sep 1996 06:47:40 -0500

At 7:11 PM -0500 9/27/96, Dale M. Wheeler wrote:
>In the phrase:
>The KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, NEB, TEV, Phillips, JB, etc.
>translate AUTA as "the same (things)." (RSV, NRSB =
>"...them yourselves.") Now if it were just the NIV or
>ONE of the other less "literal" translations, I'd
>conclude that they were just trying to make it clear;
>but they are all doing it, as well as the NASB.

This is less than literal in any case, inasmuch as the Greek (LOGIZHi, ...
W ANQRWPE hO KRINWN ... POIWN ... SU EKFEUKSHi) is consistently addressed
in the singular, not the plural. I can't read the minds of the translating
committees, obviously (but I'll try!), but I'd still be inclined to think
that the KJV translators WERE trying to make it clear and were translating
AUTA as "the same" in the anaphoric manner--just as they translate hOUTOS
in John 1:2 as "the same." My sense is that this is Elizabethan idiom
rather than a literal translation that understands AUTA as if it were
equivalent to TA AUTA. And I rather suspect that NKJV, NASB, NIV, NEB, TEV,
Phillips, JB, etc. may have been just too smart in this instance to try to
improve upon their great English original, even if "the same" in the usage
is clearly anacronistic.

Likewise, I rather think that RSV and NRSB (do you mean NRSV? I tend to get
confused in the plethora of versions designated by all these acronyms!) are
translating AUTA correctly as "them" but deriving "yourselves" from the
context, and in particular from the emphatic SU that is used with the verb
EKFEUKSHi in the hOTI clause. The SU is certainly there for rhetorical
emphasis to indicate that the addressee, already identified as POIWN AUTA,
is HIMSELF subject to condemnation as guilty of what he condemns; so I
would say that the SU functions here exactly as would an AUTOS used
predicatively with EKFEUKSHi in earlier Greek. So RSV and NRSB(?) are
surely NOT understanding AUTA is if it were AUTOS, the form of the
intensive that POIWN would require, but are, I believe, deriving
"yourselves" from the rhetorical SU in the following clause, and are also
following their great predecessor in turning the singular subject of the
Greek original into a generalizing plural

>That would necessitate AUTA being an Adjective (called
>Adj of Identity by RobtGr., p. 685ff., BDF #288), and
>not a Pronoun (ie., Personal, 3rd Pl Neut Acc). The
>problem is that, as far as I can tell, there is NO
>evidence for AUTOS in any gender, case, or number
>functioning as an Adjective, UNLESS its either in the
>Attributive position (hO AUTOS KURIOS - 1Cor 12:5; hO
>AUTOS - Heb 1:12) or associated with an Anarthrous
>Noun (Luke 23:12 [?]; Smyth #1211, L&S I.11. [all the
>examples have it associated with a noun; I take it
>that EP' AUTAS BAQMIDOS in Pindar, Nemean Odes, 5.1.
>actually has AUTAS in concord with the noun.])

Yes, because Pindar writes in Doric dialect: AUTAS is Doric gen. sg. =
Attic AUTHS.

>or in conjunction with TOUTO (Rom 9:17). No such
>anarthrous and/or non-associated meaning is listed
>by Smyth, BDF, RobtGr, Zerwick, Moule, L&S, BAGD,
>M&M (I stopped after that).
>Has anyone ever seen such an animal ?? Or is the
>RSV/NRSV paying closer attention to the Greek
>grammar when they translated it "them" (though
>making the active ptc POIWN middle was an interesting
>translation device) ?

Huh? what's this "making the active ptc POIWN" stuff? As I've already
indicated, I think they are deriving "yourselves" from the rhetorically
emphatic SU of the following clause.

>And if so, is this a usage of
>AUTOS in which it basically represents hOUTOS/EKEINOS
>(in this specific case TAUTA; ie., the classical
>anaphoric usage)?

No, I don't think so. I think "them" is being understood by these
translators as simply what it surely is: a 3d pl. n. pronoun here clearly
referring back to TA TOIAUTA in the preceding clause.

>Or did I just overlook something really obvious ???

I don't think any of this is very obvious, but what I do think is that
neither the KJV (and, following the lead of KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, NEB, TEV,
Phillips, JB, etc.) nor the RSV/NRSV formulation is quite "literal" but
that BOTH the KJV and the RSV/NRSV versions are accurately expressing the
meaning in the idiom of their own era. As for NKJV, NASB, NIV, NEB, TEV,
Phillips, JB, etc., they are nothing more than copycats, in this instance
sidestepping the challenge of modernising the Elizabethan phraseology of
the KJV which the RSV/NRSV translators have faced with what I think is
considerable success.

It strikes me, moreover, that the endeavor to translate literally becomes
more challenging when the passage being translated is rhetorically charged,
as in the present instance, rather than straightforward narrative or
statement. And no matter what one says about the preferability of a
"literal" translation over any attempt at "dynamic equivalence," a STRICTLY
LITERAL translation, once you get beyond "See John run!" is likely to be
misleading to a reader who doesn't know the original. The old Italian
proverb, TRADUTTORI TRADITORI, is right: translators, in one way or
another, manage to betray their trust.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR