Re: The word alone in Romans 3:28

From: John M. Moe (
Date: Mon Aug 24 1998 - 20:46:52 EDT

Paul S. Dixon wrote:


> How about if we understand Luther's inclusion of "solam" as his
> epexegetical
> note to "sine operibus legis"? This seems to make good sense, especially
> if
> we understand, as Luther might argue from the context, that faith and
> works
> are mutually exclusive, at least as far as justification is considered.
> Paul Dixon

I think you've got it paul. One of the major points in Luther's "On Translating:
An Open Letter" of 1530 is the addition of "allein" at this verse. I don't have
the German in my library, but in the American Ed. it is in Vol. 35, p.p. 181-204.
(There is, by the way, some very interesting stuff in that letter for those who
oppose direct equivalence and dynamic equivalence theories of translation.) He
argues that "allein" is demanded by the nature of the German language, not the
Latin or the Greek, and by the context, and that by it's addition, nothing new is
added which was not taught by Paul and the fathers mentioned in some of the other
responses in this thread. The following, just by way of sample.

"It is the nature of the German language to add the word allein in order that the
word nicht or kein may be clearer and more complete. To be sure, I can also say,
'The farmer brings grain and kein money,' but the words 'kein money' do not sound
as full and clear as if I were to say, 'The farmer brings allein grain and kein
money.' Here the word allein helps the word kein so much that it becomes a
complete, clear German expression. (Luther's Works, American Edition, 35:189)

 "'But,' they say, 'it has an offensive sound, and people infer from it that
they need not do any good works.' Land, what are we to say? Is it not much more
'offensive' that St. Paul himself does not use the term 'faith alone,' but spells
it out even more bluntly, and puts the finishing touches on it by saying 'Without
the works of the law'? . . . for the expression 'faith alone' is susceptible of
another interpretation, but the phrase 'without the works of the law' is so blunt,
offensive, and scandalous that no amount of interpreting can help it. (

Rev. John M. Moe
St. John's Lutheran Church, Rich Valley

B-Greek home page:
You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: []
To unsubscribe, forward this message to
To subscribe, send a message to

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:39:57 EDT