Re: DIKAIW in Romans 6:7

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Feb 10 1999 - 06:18:09 EST

At 12:21 AM -0600 2/10/99, Mark D. Taylor wrote:
>Hi to all,
>I am brand-new to the discussion group and am looking forward to learning a
>I have been doing a word-study of Righteousness, and my question is
>regarding the translation of DEDIKAIWTAI in Romans 6:7, where DIKAIW is
>given in the perfect tense / middle voice. The NASB has "is freed", and it
>seems like almost all English translations have used the word "free".
>However, it seems to me that literally it should be, "has received
>righteousness" or "has been declared righteous" or "has been justified".
>And this would certainly fit in very well with the whole logical discussion
>of being righteous (DIKAIW) which Paul has been presenting. It seems to me
>that the translators should not have done this.
>And it is especially misleading to the English reader since in verse 18 a
>different Gr. word is translated "freed".
>Now, William Tyndale (my hero!) does have "is justified" in his
>translation, but it seems most others since him have chosen differently.
>The NASB also translates forms of DIKAIW as "free" twice in Acts 13:38-39

An interesting question, with respect both to meaning and to appropriate
ways of conveying the phrase to English (or another language?).

(1) Form: I think (for all my preference, where possible, for taking MP
forms as middle) that I would categorize DEDIKAIWTAI as perfect PASSIVE
rather than middle, inasmuch as justification is a process in which the
believer participates but which s/he has not initiated or brought to
fulfillment by his/her own resources primarily. And insofar as the perfect
indicates present state or condition consequent upon the action, I don't
find "is freed," "is free" or even "stands freed" as appropriate, once one
settles the question whether "free" is appropriate for conveying the sense

(2) Translation: I rather think the preference of many translators for
"free" in this instance depends more upon the verb's association with APO
THS hAMARTIAS--which is to say, in this context the process of DIKAIWSIS is
understood fundamentally as 'deliverance' from hAMARTIA both as a kind of
pollution of which one must be purged and as a residual behavioral
impotence of which one yearns to be liberated.

Remaining focused so far as possible upon the problem of diction (and
without getting involved in a theological quagmire wherein a variety of
perspectives may intrude and conflict), the question may be one of the
extent to which we associate DIKAIOW with a concrete and literal judicial
process whereby an ADIKOS ANQRWPOS is declared by the judge to be DIKAIOS
or to which, alternatively, we associate DIKAIOW with an alteration in the
behavior of an ADIKOS ANQRWPOS who is enabled to behave DIKAIWS. An
additional question is whether one prefers the standard "Jewish" rendering
of DIKAIOS and ADIKOS as "righteous" and "unrighteous" or prefers rather to
think more in the way in which Plato, for instance, in the Republic speaks
of DIKAIOSUNH as a sort of integrity whereby one acts properly in
accordance with one's authentic selfhood (TA hEAUTOU PRATTEIN TE KAI
ECEIN)--it's always seemed to me that there's not that great a gulf between
the Platonic sense and the Pauline sense as might appear on the surface.

My guess is that the deeper problems of translating DIKAIOW in any
particular verb-form in Romans derive from the multi-dimensionality of ways
in which both the verb DIKAIOW and the adjective DIKAIOS are employed and
represented in the Biblical text. Inasmuch as Paul in Rom 4:3 has cited Gen
the whole complex of verb, noun, and adjective assumes dimensions that far
transcend the merely judicial, and for this reason, there's almost bound to
be some fluidity and flexibility to the way these words are rendered in

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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