Romans 10:4, two nominative nouns

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ryan_king
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Romans 10:4, two nominative nouns

Post by ryan_king » February 6th, 2014, 3:43 pm

I am a total newbie, and have hundreds of questions. This verse stood out enough to me to try to articulate my first question of this type — feel free to point me to any online resources I should read as a prerequisite so I can avoid wasting your time.

Romans 10:9 two nominatives, “τελος” then “Χριστος,” and it has an implied “is,” which translations consistently use to say “Christ is the end of” — http://biblehub.com/romans/10-4.htm

The Greek is:
τελος γαρ νομου Χριστος εις δικαιοσυνην παντι τω πιστευοντι
Is there any other grammatically correct way to translate this?

That is, did the interpreters pick the version that made the least theological trouble, or is there truly no grammatical ambiguity?

Thanks, and be blessed of יהוה.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Romans 10:4, two nominative nouns

Post by Jonathan Robie » February 7th, 2014, 7:31 pm

Hi Ryan,

Welcome to B-Greek!

Does it help to reorder the words like this?

Χριστος γαρ τελος νομου or
τελος νομου γαρ Χριστος

I think that changes the emphasis, but not the basic meaning. I suspect what is confusing for you is that γαρ appears between τελος and νομου, but that happens in Greek, and γαρ has a strong tendency to want to be the second word in a clause. Does this help clarify?

You say you are a total newbie, do you know what a genitive is, that νομου is genitive, and how that affects the meaning here?
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

ryan_king
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Joined: January 3rd, 2014, 6:38 pm

Re: Romans 10:4, two nominative nouns

Post by ryan_king » February 8th, 2014, 10:11 pm

Hi Jonathan! Thanks again for your gracious/helpful email the last time I tried to post, when I rambled an off-topic mess.

I think I know the genitive case — I read the words as “of ____”, which I take as either possessives or meanings like “pertaining to ____”.

The infixed γαρ got me the first few times I saw it (I am learning from an Interlinear), but now I see it like English “_____, however, _____”.

But neither of those explain to me why we translate it this way. Your reordering question makes it even more a puzzle to me — if the order does not affect the meaning, should we not entertain the alternate placement, “The end of the law is Christ”. In a way, this could be called equivalent to the way we see it translated: “Christ is the end of the law”, but it seems to nudge the meaning a bit, and I do lot know why Paul's ordering would be swapped.

Thanks!
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Romans 10:4, two nominative nouns

Post by Stephen Hughes » February 9th, 2014, 2:33 am

ryan_king wrote:Romans 10:9 two nominatives, “τελος” then “Χριστος,” and it has an implied “is,” which translations consistently use to say “Christ is the end of”
τέλος γὰρ νόμου Χριστὸς εἰς δικαιοσύνην παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι.
Is there any other grammatically correct way to translate this?

That is, did the interpreters pick the version that made the least theological trouble, or is there truly no grammatical ambiguity?
I note that you are a "newbie", so I will walk through what I am going to say fairly much step by step. What I am going to say is not simple, but it has been broken down and simplified. If you have questions arising from my "explanation", you can feel free to ask. Sometimes my simplifications create more complexity.

The style of "Biblical" translation tends to be as close as possible to "word-for-word" translation. But translating a language is a little different from understanding it. Let's look at that for a moment of your time, which I hope I will not be wasting.

When we are "translating" (I'm quoting myself from the previous paragraph) we are using familiar structures in our own native language to express the meaning of (in our case) the Greek that we have in front of us. Changing the Greek into English is just one option that we have to express it in differently and so understand it better. What we can also do (or alternatively) is to express it in different words in the language itself. You will have noticed after some experience in learning by interlinear, you will have noticed that there are some recurrent patterns which express more or less the same meaning, but in slightly different ways. Rather than just paying attention to the English. Have a look at the Greek in such cases. There are not generally more than 4 or 5 different Greek patterns for each of the similar English patterns that you will notice. Pay attention to the similarities and differences within each of the patterns you will find. What I am going to do is to express this verse in different ways in Greek. There is nothing "new" in what I'm going to do, and what I will write have more or less the same meaning, but just that I emphasise different things in my sentences. Let's work towards it...

First step - (You were wondering why the translations into English are all "Christ is the end of the law..." - this might help you with that.) Of the two nouns; τέλος and Χριστός which of them looks like (your English speaking opinion is okay) it would more easily be able to be used as a verb? Would it be "end" or "Christ"?

To go from "end" (as a noun) (τέλος) to "end" (as a verb) requires no changes (in form) in English. Eg. "What is at the end of the rainbow?" v. "They had to end the game early because of the rain.", but to go from Christ (as a noun) to a corresponding verb -such as perhaps "become christian" (vi.) or "to christianise" (vt.) - requires more change. That is why the genitive is with the τελος, not with the Χριστος here, and hence why it is translated that way into English, not the other way around, but those are two different processes, which we could look at in turn. So, anyway, we could makea first assumption that, "end" (τέλος) is more likely to become the verb, that Christ is - not 100%, but a good first guess at least.

Let's look at τέλος (end), which has two distinct meaning, and try to decide which one we think is meant here. Consider these sentences - "The match ended and QPR won." - there is a completion of the game with a result, compared to "That's the end of the Vegemite, so now you'll have to have honey on your Weet bix." It is used up and there is nothing left. Similarly, "I finished my homework", v. "I finished my lunch". Greek has a different verb or each of those, so the verbal from for τέλος in the meaning we have it in this verse here is τελειόω (which basically has the meaning here of πληρόω), so that is the verb that we will work with.

The second step - The genitive νόμου with the noun τέλος would become the object νόμον of the verb τελειόω. That is to say, τέλος νόμου "end of the law" --> τελειοῖ τὸν νόμον "brought about an end to the Law (with some result left after the completion)", and in either case Χριστός is the subject. τέλος γὰρ νόμου Χριστός or in other words τελειοῖ γὰρ τὸν νόμον ὁ Χριστὸς.
  • As an aside... If we were to allow the other meaning of end ("I've finished the soup (and there is none left for you)"), - τελέω - then there wouldn't be much use in having the εἰς... that follows on from it.
What we have done is rather than considering why Christ is first, we have considered why "is the end of the Law" is second. It gets us to an understandable conclusion anyway.

Now, let's move onto the next phrase; εἰς δικαιοσύνην παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι. This can be expressed in Greek in different ways that may help our understanding - like translation but not the same. Without explanation, because it is not the main point of your question...

We can verbalise δικαιοσύνη as an infinitive, which might be okay as a passive, viz εἰς τὸ δικαιωθῆναι πάντα τὸν πιστεύοντα "unto the to be justified everyone who (is) believing" (to render it in interlinear English for you). Or we could use a ἵνα + subjunctive ἵνα δίκαιοι ἐν ἑαυτῷ πάντα τὸν πιστεύοντα εἰς αὐτὸν. "in order that he might justify in himself everyone who believed in him", or a similar construction where Θεός, rather than were the subject Χριστός is taken from the first half. (But that is perhaps really a bit far from your original enquiry.)

I hope you were able to follow at least some of what I have said.
ryan_king wrote:I am a total newbie, and have hundreds of questions. This verse stood out enough to me to try to articulate my first question of this type — feel free to point me to any online resources I should read as a prerequisite so I can avoid wasting your time.
Newbie or not, you will always have questions. In fact, it is better if the number of questions doesn't sort of decrease over time. That number is a function of your brain's ability to ask questions. Each question is an opportunity to move forward. The number stays more or less the same, and as you know more of the language, the questions become more complex drawing on an ever-larger background knowledge to formulate them. The upshot of that is that the number of people able to understand them, and the reference works able to answer your questions in the future decreases.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

David Lim
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Re: Romans 10:4, two nominative nouns

Post by David Lim » February 9th, 2014, 11:30 am

ryan_king wrote:I think I know the genitive case — I read the words as “of ____”, which I take as either possessives or meanings like “pertaining to ____”.
Yes, more or less, so "[the] end of [the] law". Often genitives with clear referents appear without the definite article even if they are definite, such as here (see "τεκνα θεου" in John 1:12 for another example). "τελος" here is also without the article for a slightly different reason in my view, because it's somewhat like an indefinite abstract noun.
ryan_king wrote:The infixed γαρ got me the first few times I saw it (I am learning from an Interlinear), but now I see it like English “_____, however, _____”.
It doesn't mean anything close to "however", because "γαρ" actually introduces some kind of reason, which may not be directly for the preceding sentence. "δε" is the Greek word that is similar to "however" or "moreover". The position of these Greek words is simply a syntactic feature and you shouldn't expect to find any close equivalent in English with the same syntax. That is why "... γαρ ..." is consistently translated as "for ...".
ryan_king wrote:But neither of those explain to me why we translate it this way. Your reordering question makes it even more a puzzle to me — if the order does not affect the meaning, should we not entertain the alternate placement, “The end of the law is Christ”. In a way, this could be called equivalent to the way we see it translated: “Christ is the end of the law”, but it seems to nudge the meaning a bit, and I do lot know why Paul's ordering would be swapped.
The order doesn't affect the meaning because when there are two noun phrases with an equative verb (here implicit), and one is indefinite, the definite reference is always the subject. When both are definite, like here, it doesn't matter (apart from emphasis) which is the subject because each refers to a specific entity, and the two entities are simply equated. If you think that "Christ is the end of the law" and "the end of the law is Christ" have different meanings, then you're probably imbuing them with further interpretation beyond their direct meaning. Here "τελος νομου" is put in front for emphasis, and doesn't have a different meaning.
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δαυιδ λιμ

Scott Lawson
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Re: Romans 10:4, two nominative nouns

Post by Scott Lawson » February 12th, 2014, 5:48 pm

Ryan,

The simplest sentences in language have a binary structure. That is they consist of a noun phrase (a noun phrase can be a single noun) functioning as a subject and a verb phrase (a verb phrase can be a single verb) functioning as a predicate. A predicate says, or predicates something about the subject. Consider this sentence:
Jesus wept.
ἐδάκρυσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς

The noun is in the nominative or subject case and is the subject. And the verb is the predicate. At times the main verb may be accompanied by other words, phrases, and clauses that are called either "complements" (because they complete the predicate) or "modifiers" (because they add to or modify the meaning of the verb). Complements are required to complete the verb; modifiers are optional.

There are 5 basic sentence types:
I. The Intransitive Type
These are sentences containing a subject and an intransitive verb as the predicate. A verb that can stand alone in a verb phrase and function as the entire predicate is intransitive.

Jesus wept.
ἐδάκρυσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς

Types II, III, and IV --Linking (Copular) Verbs

II. The Verb "Be" Requiring Adverbs of Time or Place
Time:
The Word was present at the start.
Ἑν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος.

Place:
The Word was in God's presence.
ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν.

(Likely there are better examples than those above.)

In Type II sentences, a form of the linking verb "be" requires an adverbial complement that completes the predicate and expresses place or time. Such complements refer to the place or time of the subject, not of the verb.

III. The Linking Verb Type with Adjectival Subject Complement

Yet the earth was invisible.
ἡ δὲ γῆ ἦν ἀόρατος.

The adjective phrase describes the noun phrase that functions as a subject. Again, because the "be" verb serves to join or link the subject to the descriptive word or phrase in the predicate, they are called "linking" verbs or "copulative" verbs. The adjective phrase that follows them functions as an adjectival subject complement also called a predicate adjective. The adjective phrase that functions as a subject complement in Type III sentences is required; it completes the predicate while providing descriptive information about the subject.

IV. The Linking Verb with Nominal Subject Complement

The Word was a god.
θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

These sentences, like those of Type III, contain verbs that link the subject with a subject complement in the predicate, but in Type IV sentences, the linking verb is followed by a nominal constituent-that is a noun phrase functioning as the subject complement. (Nominal means "functioning as a noun.") The noun or noun phrase that is linked with the linking verb always has the same referent as the subject - that is it always refers to the same person, place or thing as the subject noun phrase.
The nominal subject complements are called predicate nominatives. These nouns occur in the same case as the subject noun- the nominative case.

V. The Transitive Type

God made the heavens.
ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανόν.

As we have seen, intransitive verbs in Type I sentences require no complements. Linking verbs in Type II, III, and IV sentences have complements that refer in some way to the subject of the sentence. These four verb types contrast with transitive verbs (Type V). Verbs in Type V sentences require a noun phrase complement that refers to something or someone other than that to which the subject noun phrase refers. None of the other sentence types have this characteristic.
The second noun phrase in Type V sentences functions as a direct object. Transitive verbs require a direct object.


Ryan in the sentence in question you have focused in on the two nominative nouns and the sentence is basically a Type IV sentence with added modifiers to expand the thought.

τελος γαρ νομου Χριστος εις δικαιοσυνην παντι τω πιστευοντι

Χριστος is the subject nominative with τελος functioning as the predicate nominative. The linking verb is in ellipsis - that is it is not present in the text but it is understood to be there. When you encounter two nominatives and no verb you know that the linking verb is likely in ellipsis.
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Scott Lawson

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