Re: Rom 12 19

From: Harold R. Holmyard III (
Date: Sat May 06 2000 - 10:29:11 EDT

Dear Brian,
     You write:

>Rom 12 19: Paul advises believers not to avenge themselves, but 'alla dote
>topon th orgh.'

>I read that as 'to give (or yield) place to the wrath.'

>However, it is often translated 'leave it to the wrath of God' (RSV),
>'give place unto the wrath of God' (ASV) 'leave a place for divine
>retribution.' Paul next quotes Deut 32:35 "Vengence is mine, I will repay,
>says the lord." (Rom 12 19).

>tou qeou is not in the sentence. What does everyone think of the rendering
>'of God.' Is it an acceptable reconstruction, given the context, or is my
>suggestion acceptable?

Brian, you did not clarify what your suggestion meant. What do you
understand the wrath to be? However, I think that adding "of God" may help
the translation. To "give place" is a Greek expression that probably means
to "leave room for," that is, "leave opportunity for." If you have the LXX
in Greek, you might check Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 4:5, which also uses this
phrase "give place" to mean "give opportunity." Since Paul has just said
that we are not to avenge ourselves, he probably does not mean that we are
to nonetheless allow place for our wrath. He has just said, in effect, not
to allow a place for our wrath.

So Paul is probably using "the wrath" in a technical way to refer to the
divine wrath, as his subsequent quote of Deut 32:35 would suggest. One of
the two main meanings that BAG gives for ORGH is with reference to the
wrath of God as the divine reaction against evil. "It is thought of not so
much as an emotion as in terms of the outcome of an angry frame of mind
(judgment), . . ." By not avenging ourselves, we leave opportunity for God
to exercise divine judgment on the person who has sinned against us.

                                Harold Holmyard

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