Re: EAN MH = but in Gal 2:16?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon May 31 1999 - 11:41:10 EDT

At 10:47 AM -0400 5/31/99, Moon-Ryul Jung wrote:
>Dear B-greekers,
>EAN MH is usually taken to mean "unless". I wonder if this is the
>case with Gal 2:16.
>(a) Man is not righteoused out of works of the law unless through faith
>in Christ.
>Rendered this way, it seems to imply that man is righteoused out of
>works of the law as long as through faith in Christ.
>This rendering deviates from the usual translation:
>(b) Man is not righteoused by works of the law but by faith in Christ.
>Why (b), not (a)?

This is really more a matter of English idiom than anything else; EAN MH
does, in fact, mean "except" here also, but it always most literally means
"if not." In English, "but" may mean "except" or "only." Read it then with
DIKAWTAI explictly stated in the protasis,

"If a person is not 'righteoused' through faith in Christ, (then) a person
is (certainly) not 'righteoused' as a result of works of law."

This formulation underscores the importance of what is stated in the EAN MH
clause: one may fulfill the requirements of the Law, but is not deemed
'righteous' except by virtue of faith in Christ. It is not fulfillment of
the Law that makes one righteous but rather faith in Christ. In fact, Paul
argues in Romans that satisfaction of the requirements of the Law is only
possible through faith (that, I take it, is the sense of Rom 8:4, where I
take it that PERIPATEIN KATA PNEUMA implicitly includes PISTIS IHSOU

Therefore, I'd say that (a) above is not so much wrong as it is misleading
in English.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243

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