[b-greek] Re: Word study on Gal 2:15

From: clayton stirling bartholomew (c.s.bartholomew@worldnet.att.net)
Date: Mon Oct 30 2000 - 15:44:35 EST

on 10/30/00 10:53 AM, vanepps wrote:

> I need a little help. I am working through the book of Galatians and have
> come upon 2:15 and Paul's most enigmatic of statments, Jhmeis fusie
> Ioudaioi kai ouk ec eqnwn Jamartwloi, "We are Jews by nature, and not
> sinners from among the nations (Gentiles)." Because this statment sounds so
> out of character in comparison to Paul's earlier argumentation I have begun
> a word study on fusie Ioudaioi to see why this phrase is rendered as "Jews
> by birth" and not "Jews by nature," which might then hold the possibility of
> referring not only to the Jew but also to the Gentile believer who has been
> indwelt with the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 2:28-29). To my regret I am only able
> to search the LXX and the GNT and there is no other instance of this phrase,
> so I am unable to conclude if fusie Ioudaioi need be rendered as solely an
> ethnic designation or if I am able to use the more metaphoric meaning, "by
> nature" as he seems to in Romans. Is there anyone out there with the
> capability of searching other early Greek writings, or who might assist me
> with a good bibliography to further my search for a better translation and
> ultimately a better understanding of Paul's motives here. Any help is
> appreciated.


I am not sure that a word study is going to solve your problem. I have
appended Louw & Nida on this word group below. I don't think there is
anything tricky or esoteric about Paul's use of terminology here.

A more fruitful line of investigation would be an analysis of his
methodology in presenting his argument. Lightfoot suggests that there may be
a touch of irony in hHMEIS FUSEI IDOUDAIOI . . . hAMARTWLOI. However it is
possible to solve this without playing the irony "card" which is kind of an
easy out when all else fails.

Gal. 2:15 is considered by many exegetes a transition where Paul begins to
directly address his intended audience. I think Paul is building his
argument from a basis of what is agreed upon and moving then to the
controversial issues. hHMEIS FUSEI IDOUDAIOI . . . hAMARTWLOI is what
everyone agrees upon. The terminology used simply states what was considered
the non-controversial facts in the matter. So Paul starts off saying
essentially, we can agree on this much and now I have something else to say
about it.

The distinction Paul makes between the Jews as a race and the Gentiles was a
valid distinction that Paul never intended to obliterate. There may be also
a note of irony here but I don't think that is essential to understand what
Paul is saying.

Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

Louw and Nida

58.8 FUSIS , the nature of something as the result of its natural
development or condition ‹ Œnature.¹ Œbeings who by nature are not gods¹ Ga
4:8; Œsharers in the divine nature¹ 2Pe 1:4.

58.24 FUSIS, a class of entities based on physiological and genetic
similarity ‹ Œkind, class, species. Œevery kind of wild animal, bird,
reptile, and fish can be tamed and has been tamed . . .' Jas 3:7.1

58.9 FUSIKOS, FUSIKWS : pertaining to that which is in accordance with the
nature or character of something ‹ Œnatural, naturally, by nature, by
instinct.¹ Œthey changed the use which is in accordance with nature to that
which is contrary to nature¹ Ro 1:26. For some languages the equivalent of
Œbeing in accordance with nature¹ is simply Œbeing as it should be. Œnatural
creatures born to be caught and killed¹ 2Pe 2:12. In place of an expression
such as Œnatural creatures¹ a more appropriate equivalent in some languages
is simply Œanimals.¹ Œwhich they know by instinct, like wild animals¹ Jd 10.

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