Re: The word alone in Romans 3:28

From: Jim West (jwest@Highland.Net)
Date: Mon Aug 24 1998 - 16:23:32 EDT

At 05:02 PM 8/24/98 -0400, you wrote:
>Dear B-Greek members,
>The place where Luther deals extensively with the justification for his
>translation "by faith alone" is his Sendbrief von Dolmetschen, or Open
>Letter on Translation. It's worth reading as a major contribution on the
>theory of translation.

I agree- this is one of Luther's BEST works.

> He argues that though the word "alone" is not in Greek or
>Latin, it is necessary to speak good German, that in German when one thing
>is denied, one must say "allein" in the contrast. "When translating", he
>says, "you must not ask how the Latin literally expresses it, to find out
>how to say it in German, but you must ask the mother in the home, the
>children in the street, the common man in the marketplace how they say it,
>and translate it that way, then they will understand and recognize that you
>want to speak German with them."

Unfotunately, Luther is incorrect in this assertion- for German is quite
capable of expressing the idea of the verse without recourse to "allein"- I
offer as demonstration the following, from a German translation other than

"Denn wir sind der Ueberzeugung, dass der Mensch gerecht wird durch Glauben,
unabhaengig von Werken des Gesetzes".

Though Luther is brilliant, and really a delightful writer with his colorful
sentences (lost, sadly, for the most part in translation), and we are often
bewitched by him, we must take care that we do not accept at face value
everything he says. (Which, by the by, goes for everyone).



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