Romans 8 and FRONHMA

From: Eric Weiss (
Date: Tue Aug 05 1997 - 01:01:02 EDT

Romans 8:6-7, as well as Romans 8:27 uses the phrases TO FRONHMA THS
PNEUMATOS almost certainly means "the way the Spirit thinks/what the
Spirit intends," etc. - i.e., a SUBJECTIVE genitive. Many translations
which directly translate this verse with this meaning - or indirectly do
so by translating it quite literally (i.e., "the mind of the Spirit,"
which would usually be understood as "the way the Spirit thinks" or "the
mind the Spirit has") - change their tune when they come to 8:6-7, where
they treat the phrases as OBJECTIVE genitives or as something else
entirely, i.e., "the mind set on the flesh" (6a) / "the mind set on the
spirit" (6b) / "the mind set on the flesh" (7a) (NASB); "the mind of
sinful man" / "the mind controlled by the Spirit" / "the sinful mind"
(NIV); "to set the mind on the flesh" / "to set the mind on the Spirit"
/ "the mind that is set on the flesh" (NRSV); "for the mind to be given
up to earthly things" / "for the mind to be given up to spiritual
things" / "abandonment to earthly things" (Weymouth); "to have a mind in
tune with the old nature" / "to have a mind in tune with the Spirit" /
"the mind which is in tune with the old nature" (F.F. Bruce). BAGD,
however, references all these passages as instances of FRONHMA "w.
subjective gen."

I ask: Is it a reluctance by translators to accept - as Paul seems to -
that the flesh has a mind of its own that causes them to translate TO
FRONHMA THS SARKOS in 8:6 as "the [person's/human's] mind [which is]
set on the [things of the] flesh" - and hence because of its immediate
proximity to translate the following phrase in the same way as "the
[human] mind set on the Spirit" - instead of as the quite plain "for the
flesh's way of thinking is death, but the Spirit's way of thinking is
life and peace"? Or is it because 8:5 states that persons who are
"according to the flesh" FRONEW "the things of the flesh" - and persons
who are "according to the Spirit" FRONEW "the things of the Spirit" -
that inclines translators to assume that FRONHMA in 8:6 and 8:7 refers
to the subjects of FRONEW in 8:5?

Granted, 8:27 is several verses away, and the context is different - but
the fact that Paul uses the exact same words indicates to me that
translators ought to at least consider translating 8:6-7 the same way
they translate 8:27 before deciding to translate them quite differently.
For it is VERY different to view and translate 8:6 and 8:7 as talking
about the results of the mindset a person chooses or lives by, rather
than to translate them as statements about what "the flesh" and what
"the Spirit" - not "humans" - by nature think about or strive for.

Comments? (Please!)

"Eric S. and Karol-Ann Weiss"

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