Negation (yet again!)
hws men eipen ho Dwight Peterson:
"With regard to Carl Conrad's reading of Romans 7:15 I have
"1. If it should be translated "I do what I don't want
to do," then the remainder of the verse makes less sense.
How would you explain the all' preceding ho misw. On
Carl's reading, ou gar ho thelw appears to be the same thing
as ho misw, yet they are contrasted here (all').
"2. In 7:16, the word order is different - ho ou thelw
- indicating that here "what I DON'T want to do" is in view,
where in 7:15, "what I DO want to do" is in view.
"More wood for the fire!
egw de houtws legw:
I really don't see antithesis in the two halves of 7:15. And
it seems to me that 7:16 doesn't change the perspective from
7:15 but rather draws the logical conclusion from the
observation set forth in 7:15. I read them thus, with rigid
7.15 ho gar katergazomai ou ginwskw: ou gar ho thelw touto
prassw, all' ho misw, touto poiw. 7.16 ei de ho ou thelw
touto poiw, sumphemi twi nomwi hoti kalos.
7.15 "For what I enact I don't recognize: NOT, after all,
what I WANT, THAT do I perform, but what I HATE,
THAT I do." 7.16 "But if what I DON'T want, THAT I do,
(then) I assent to the law, (agreeing) that it is good."
I think my earlier formulation was slightly skewed. I first
said (more accurately):
"In ou gar ho thelw toutv poiw, the OY does not directly
negate the second verb; rather it negates the subordinate clause.
More literally it is: "For NOT the thing which I want THAT
do I do ..." i.e. TOUTO picks up and repeats the content of
HO THELW. Reversing the word-order, it translates more
easily as, "For that thing I do, (the thing) which I DON'T
WANT (to do). To summarize, then: in this instance,
the OY negates the relative clause, HO THELW."
But the second time I wrote:
"Paul here is not saying (pace translators who want to
improve the English), "I don't do what I want," but rather,
"I do what I DON'T want (to do)," or even more precisely,
with the emphasis of his word-order and deliberate backwards
reference to the clause of indirect question, "What I DON'T
want to do--THAT's what I DO!"
That is actually misleading and reinserts the OY before the
verb in the subordinate clause of indirect question. The first
formulation was more accurate: NOT what I WANT (to do),
THAT (is what) I DO"; then, in the following clause, "but what
I HATE--THAT's what I DO!"
I suppose that if one wants to ignore the word-order, which
is very powerful rhetorically, one can construe the elements of
these two clauses in 7.15 syntactically in the strictest sense.
But if one does that, it is still not the VERB that is negated by
the OY in the first clause, but TOYTO, while in the second
clause it really IS the verb that is negated. "Not THAT, which
I want (to do), do I enact, but THAT, which I DON'T want
(to do), I DO."
I wouldn't argue that reading the text this way alters the
meaning of Paul's statements; I would argue, however, that
it makes the rhetorical force of them clearer.
I'm sorry if it seems that I am beating this into the ground, but I think
there's a misapprehension that OY should normally negate a verb, whereas
I think it can negate anything that any other adverb can qualify, and very
often it does, with intense rhetorical impact.
CARL W. CONRAD, C25001CC@WUVMD.BITNET OR C25001CC@WUVMD.WUSTL.EDU
Classics, Washington University, One Brookings Dr., St. Louis, MO 63130
Phone: (314) 935-4018