Re: Romans 3:4 and LXX: Follow UP

From: Micheal Palmer (
Date: Sat Feb 21 1998 - 00:17:56 EST

At 5:57 PM -0800 2/19/98, D. Anthony Storm wrote:
>I have re-written my earlier post because I think I was unclear.
>In Romans 3:4, which quotes Psalm 51:4, the Greek says KAI VIKNSEIS EN TWi
>KRINESQAI SE. The NASB translates this as "and mightest prevail when thou
>art judged."
>The LXX also has KAI VIKNSEIS EN TWi KRINESQAI SE in Brenton's edition,
>Zondervan, 1970. The English translation supplied says, "and mighest
>overcome when thou art judged."
>These two translations seem to take KRINESQAI SE in the passive.
>Thus, I have two questions. How hard is it GRAMMATICALLY to support the
>middle voice, and if it can be supported why do you suppose the NASB and
>Brenton opt for a seemingly senseless translation? For after all, how can
>God be judged? Or am I missing something?

I'm not sure why you find this to be a problem. People judge God all the
time. From a theological point of view one might argue that they
*shouldn't* or that they have no right to, etc., but they clearly DO judge
God. That is, they interpret some event in their own experience to have
been caused (or allowed) by God, and they conclude that it is unfair. God
is judged to be wrong.

The Psalmist prays that God will come out vindicated--that God will prevail
(show himself to be innocent) when such judgments come. Paul's point, and
the Psalmists, is that when God is compared with human conduct (judged),
God should always come out vindicated--God should prevail in the judgment.
To conclude that God is guilty is absurd from Paul's perspective.

The passive reading of KRINESQAI, then, is consistent with Paul's reasoning.

Micheal W. Palmer
Religion & Philosophy
Meredith College

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