"NOMOS" in Paul

From: Edward Hobbs (EHOBBS@wellesley.edu)
Date: Sun Oct 08 1995 - 18:50:54 EDT

The discussion on Paul's use of "nomos", with or without the article, might
be clearer if one remembers what even such ancient figures as C. H. Dodd
tried to teach us: That early Christian use of the Greek language is often
influenced by such things as LXX usage, Greek-speaking Jewish usage (Philo
was not the only educated Jew who wrote in Greek!), and of course ordinary
Hellenistioc Greek as used by non-Jews. NOMOS is used over such a range as
"principle" or "basis", (any) law, a law in the Old Testament, the total
of the laws in the Old Testament, the Law of Moses (specifically the legal
material in Exodus-Deuteronomy), the Ten Commandments, the first five
books of the Bible, the entire Jewish Bible, and perhaps more. One doesn't
know which of these is meant by looking for the article; nor does one
understand Paul's usage by asking about which sense of "law" he intends,
since often it isn't ANY sense of "law" but rather some other (English)
word which is applicable. What Paul means by "NOMOS" is, in fact,
"NOMOS"; if the English word "law" fits, OK--but sometimes it doesn't.

Edward Hobbs

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