Re: DIKAIW in Romans 6:7

From: Mark D. Taylor (
Date: Wed Feb 10 1999 - 14:33:27 EST

On 02/10/99, ""Carl W. Conrad" <>" wrote:
> 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
> >lot!
> >
> >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
> English.
> Carl W. Conrad


Thanks a lot for the reply! Yes, certainly the Passive voice would fit in
with what has been said about receiving righteousness. And it makes sense
that APO THS hAMARTIAS would be a reason for using "freed" and choosing a
behavioral type of interpretation.

I would prefer, though, to see a more literal rendering in the English
translations and leave the interpretation up to the reader. From my study
of the various forms of DIKH in Romans, I think that it would be preferable
to translate ALL forms using the word "right" or "righteous" (including
ADIKOS). I think that everything would fit nicely, and the reader would see
the flow and consistency.

I would even drop the word "justified" which is employed so often and
instead use "was made righteous" or "was declared righteous". And I think
if you stick to "righteous", the English translations don't have to make a
decision as to a "judicial" interpretation or not. Before learning Greek I
didn't understand at all what Justified meant, but now realize that it is
simply the passive voice of DIKAIW.


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