From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Jun 02 2000 - 08:56:16 EDT

At 12:33 AM +0200 6/2/00, Roe wrote:
>Greetings B-Greekers,
>Please pardon a short explanation of the theologically-driven curiosity
>of the Greek language in Romans... :-)

If we are to believe Aristotle in the Metaphysics (DIA GAR TO QAUMAZEIN hOI
is quite naturally theological!

>I see the "wretched man" of Romans 7:24 as one who is unable to achieve
>that which he (alone) attempts. It appears in chapter 8:4 that his
>freedom from his "wretched" situation is at least accompanied by the
>ability to achieve what he had been unable to achieve in chapter 7, and
>this due to the help of the Spirit.
>My question:
>Does TALAIPWROS favor the understanding that his "wretchedness" entailed
>his frustration (at being unable to achieve that for which he
>struggles)? I am assuming this partially because I would have expected
>Paul to say, perhaps, hAMARTWLOS rather than TALAIPWROS if he had
>referred to his sinfulness...

This passage is highly rhetorical; moreover a glance at the entry for
TALAIPWROS in LSJ-G shows that it's usage in older classical Greek
primarily in Greek tragic verse. Other cognates of the root TALA- which
involves the bearing or taking on of a grievous burden are found in
tragedy: TALAS, TLHMWN, perhaps intentionally echoing one of the stock
epithets of Odysseus, POLUTLAS ("long-suffering" or "much-suffering").
Coupled with the fact that he uses ANQRWPOS here, I think Paul is quite
deliberately commenting on the human condition. I think he's saying that
humanity's particular wretchedness derives from the frustration of behaving
in self-defeating and destructive ways even when attempting to do what one
understands to be good and God-willed.


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

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