From: Jon R. Venema (
Date: Wed Feb 03 1999 - 13:02:51 EST

Dear b-greek

The expression at Romans 8:3, TO ADUNATON TOU NOMOU EN hWi HSQENEI DIA THS
SARKOS is understood by a number of commentators as either (#1) a
nominative absolute or (#2) an accusative in apposition to KATEKRINEN THN
hAMARTIAN EN THi SARKI. I suppose one could add a (#3) in which Kasemann
sums it up as an anacolouthon and stresses that verse 3:a-b must end: "God
has accomplished this in us by the power of the Spirit," which for Kasemann
is the (logical) antithesis and implicit correlation to TO ADUNATON . . .

I am grammatically diagramming (along with the students of the class, some
of whom lurk on this list) this section and would value opinions of
plausible (tentative) grammatical reconstructions of what remains
'implicit' to a completion of Paul's thought given options #1, #2, or #3
(or yet another not in view).

I should add that I am aware of how gnarled (both with grammatical and
theolgical questions) this expression can become and that the adjective, TO
ADUNATON has been understood as either active ("incapable") or passive
("impossible") (BAGD 19a) and that it is generally active in the masculine
and feminine when used of people, but passive in the neuter when used of
things (LSJ), and that the early Fathers took it as active with the
genitive TOU NOMOU expecting the passive with the dative TWi NOMWi.

Thanks in advance for your ideas.

Jon R. Venema
Western Seminary

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