Re: Rom. 9:6ff.

From: Micheal Palmer (
Date: Tue Jun 03 1997 - 23:47:06 EDT

At 1:09 AM -0400 6/2/97, wrote:
>In Romans 9:6, Paul has the sentence often translated: "They are not all
>Israel who are of Israel." The Greek, as is so often the case, looks nothing
>like this! Rather, it reads: ou gar pantes hoi ex Israel, outoi Israel.
> Something similar is the case in verses 7 and 8.
>As I diagrammed the sentence, it occurred to me that I didn't know what ou
> modified. Although John Piper, in his doctoral dissertation, argues that
>"ou" modifies the implied verb in "outoi Israel," his construction doesn't
>make sense to me. It makes the sentence read: "All the ones who are of
>Israel, these are not Israel." But the context shows that Paul is NOT saying
>that everyone descended from Israel is NOT Israel.
>Option 2: Take "ou" with the first clause: "Not all who are of Israel."
> The problem there is connecting it with the cumulative "outoi." "Not all
>who are of Israel" = "these are Israel." I can't express my discomfort with
>this rendition well, but it just doesn't sound right to me. It sounds like
>saying, "Not everyone who is of Israel? Well, they are Israel." Doesn't
>make sense.
>My gut feeling is that the "ou" at the start of the sentence really negates
>the thought contained in the rest of the sentence: "NOT: All who are of
>Israel, these are Israel." Or, supplying the ellipsis: "It is NOT the case
>that all who are of Israel, these are Israel." And in verse 7: "It is NOT
>the case that, because they are Abraham's seed, all are children." And in
>verse 8: "It is NOT the case that the children of the flesh, these are
>children of God."
>Is my gut reaction way off base? Am I on the right track?

No, your gut reaction is not way off base. A reading like

        It is not the case that [all who are of Israel, these are Israel]

works nicely to capture the scope of the negative particle OU. When OU
falls at the beginning of a sentence (or clause) it often negates the basic
claim that the sentence would make if OU were not there.

This reading for Romans 9:6 also fits rather well with the larger context
of Paul's thought on this topic.

Micheal W. Palmer
Religion & Philosophy
Meredith College

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