Re: Nitpicking(?) at translations - Romans 10:11

From: Carl William Conrad (
Date: Wed Feb 11 1998 - 12:38:50 EST

On Wed, 11 Feb 1998 01:05:49, Eric Weiss posed the following question:

> At Romans 10:11 Paul adds one word - PAS - to his quote of Isaiah 28:16
> compared to his previous quotation of it at 9:33 (actually it's an
> adaptation of Isaiah 28:16, since Paul adds EP' AUTWi, possibly being
> influenced by Isaiah 8:14 with which he conflated/compounded it at 9:33
> - but that's another issue). Yet this one additional word causes a
> translation change in several of my translations. (Note, though, that
> the Byz, e.g., text has PAS at both verses, but UBS4 rates the non-PAS
> reading at 9:33 as preferred with an {A}.)
> While many translations render the two verses basically the same, i.e.,
> "He who believes in him will not be disappointed/put to shame
> (9:33)"/"Whoever believes in him will not be disappointed/put to shame
>(10:11)," several translations, including those by Classical Greek
> experts (Richmond Lattimore, Arthur Way, Richard Weymouth) render the
> second verse - 10:11 - as "No one who believes in him will be
> disappointed/put to shame." (I mention this fact because I wonder if
> this has to do with one's Classical training; i.e., I assume one's
> Classical Greek expertise would give one more familiarity with nuances
> of Greek syntax than one who has only learned Hellenistic Greek.) In
> other words, they change the "He who believes will not" to "No one who
> believes will." (I should mention that F.F. Bruce, another Classical
> Greek scholar, in his paraphrase renders both verses along the lines of
> "He who believes will not....." - so maybe it has nothing to do with
> one's knowledge of Classical Greek.)
> The original LXX quotation of Isaiah 28:16 (as Lancelot Brenton has it)
> is not Paul's OU plus FUTURE PASSIVE INDICATIVE but instead is OU MH
> plus AORIST PASSIVE SUBJUNCTIVE - which to me supports the "He who
> believes will not..." rendering. But because Paul not only changes the
> verb tenses but also adds the PAS, I can't rely on the LXX for how best
> to translate 10:11. Hence my question again: Is the addition of PAS in
> 10:11 sufficient cause for translators to change the rendering from the
> "He who believes will not" of 9:33 to "No one who believes will"? I know
> that either way it basically says the same thing, but like litotes,
> there is a different nuance. So which is the preferred rendering of
> 10:11?

I don't think there's anything more than rhetoric involved in this
"nitpicking at translations"--but the differences do arise from a
difference in the standard form of these so-called "Future more vivid"
conditionals in the Hebrew and so in the LXX from the standard form in
classical Greek. Where the LXX has the articular participle hO PISTEUWN to
which Paul adds the PAS which I think would correspond to Hebrew KOL,
Classical Attic would normally express this with a hOSTIS AN +
the addition of the PAS has made the sentence much more clearly a
generalizing universal--in fact, it isn't really a future more vivid
condition any more but rather a general condition. And I think that it is
the rhetoric of such a universal that has occasioned those who have
shifted the negation from the result clause to the protasis to do so: it's
simply better English. Compare:

        "Whoever believes in him will not be disappointed."
        "No one who believes in him will be disappointed."

I think that once the change to an explicit universal condition has been
made, the second formulation is clearly the better English. I don't know
that I'd go so far as to say that classically-trained Hellenists write
better English, but ...

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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