[b-greek] Re: PRWTON in Rom 1.16

From: Iver Larsen (iver_larsen@sil.org)
Date: Wed Feb 20 2002 - 06:08:11 EST

> Iver wrote
> >
> > PRWTON then modifies the underlying semantic verb SWiZW from
> > the whole sentence. The Jews are first in line to be saved.
> When they have
> > had their chance, the offer is extended to the Gentiles. That is the
> > strategy laid down by Jesus and followed by Paul.
> >
> Two comment that come to mind here:
> 1. First of all, this does not say: "..to the Jew...to the Gentile", but
> ".. to the Jew... to the Greek". Paul knew well the word
> 'Gentile' and used
> it (about 30 times in Romans alone, cp Rom 1:13). The word
> "Greek(s)" occurs
> about 6 different times in Romans.)

As you well know, Paul did not use the word "Gentile", he used the word
EQNOS as well as hELLHN. In Gal 2:14 he used EQNIKWS. All these words
overlap in meaning with the English words Gentile and Greek, but there is no
one-to-one correspondence. If you look up in a dictionary you will note that
hELLHN has two major senses: 1) Greek 2) Gentile.
When Greek is contrasted with Jewish as here, the sense of Greek is
Non-Jewish, and the normal word used for that sense in English is Gentile.
All modern idiomatic translations of the Bible use "Gentile" in Rom 1:16 as
well as in 1:13 and Gal 2:14, simply because that is the word which
communicates the intended meaning in ordinary, common English. The word
"Greek" would in this context in modern English communicate a wrong emphasis
on "Greeks" as opposed to Americans, British, Italians, etc. rather than the
intended contrast between Jew and non-Jew.

I am afraid that your comment "this does not say: "..to the Jew...to the
Gentile", but ".. to the Jew... to the Greek" is a linguistic trap that one
easily falls into by using an interlinear or very literal translation. The
trap can be avoided by consulting a good Greek dictionary.

Best wishes,
Iver Larsen
Bible Translation consultant

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