[b-greek] Re: Rm. 9:32a

From: Moon-Ryul Jung (moon@sogang.ac.kr)
Date: Thu Mar 29 2001 - 07:57:08 EST

Dear Mark,

This is the passage I had some time to think about.
I wanted to find some way to interpret this passage
without introducing the idea that the Jews seeked for
so called "work-righteousness" or salvation based on

An example of this interpretation is:

RSV Romans 9:32 Why? They didn't rely on faith to gain God's approval,
but they relied on their own efforts. They stumbled over the rock that
trips people.

I have no problem interpreting hWS to mean "as if".
I would translate Rom 9:31, 32 as follows:

Israel seeking the law of righteousness (the law that promises
righteousness) did not attain to that law.
Why? Because [they seeked it] not by faith [in Christ]
but as if by works (deeds) [of the law].

Here I understand the "works (deeds) of the law" to be the observance of
the law by the Jews as the people of God, e.g. sabbath, circumcision,
food, and others. There was nothing wrong with this observance of the law.
The Jews did it as a response to the grace of God, who commanded them to
observe the law. But they did not notice that the time had arrived
at which the Gentiles could belong to the people of God in an equal
footing with the Jews, and it was through the common means, that is,
through faith in Christ, not through the means, that is, the Law,
which belonged to the Jews. We might say that the Jews sticked to the
old way, which was perfectly good in itself, and commanded by God.
But they did not respond to the end-time way of God, even though it
was promised in the law. Indeed they were stumbled over the stumbling
stone. Their running was good. But somehow their vision was somewhat
unclear as they were approaching the goal line, and they were stumbled.
But the stumbling was not because they were running in the wrong way.
It was because they did not noticed the new revelation of God at
the end time.

Moon-Ryul Jung
Sogang Univ, Seoul, Korea
They did not obtain the
James Dunn, a proponent of the New Perspective on Paul,
said in his Word Biblical Commentary on Romans interpreted
this verse to mean that the Jews considered the works or deeds
of the Law to be the marker or badge of being the people of God,
and it BLINDED the Jews with respect to their need
to accept Christ. That was what was wrong with the Law,
according to him. It contasts to E. P. Sanders, who claimed that
noting is wrong with the Law and Judaism, except that it is not
Christianity. Dunn criticizes Sanders in that he did not
take this passage seriously, saying that here hWS indicates
the "illusion" of the Jews. As far as I remember, his translation
is not different the one from NET.

I am not satisfied by Dunn's interpretation.
> Rom. 9:32a
> "Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but (as if it were possible)
> by works."
> [NET Bible]
> I am having a difficult time understanding the use of hWS here. Note that
> the NET Bible
> goes so far as to say "as if it were possible." Another translation has,
> "but, as it were,
> by works."
> This parenthetical gloss found in the NET Bible seems a little too
> interpretative for me.
> Could someone please provide other semantical options for: ALL hWS EX ERGWN,
> especially as it relates to hWS.
> Finally, what would have been lost had hWS been omitted altogether?
> Thank you,
> Mark Wilson
> _________________________________________________________________
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