Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

You are here

Thursday, February 18

Tweaking the Article (Romans 5:11)

Sometimes just a little tweaking can make a helpful difference in a translation. In Romans 5:11 we can see how the CSB handles the article to reference back to a previous verse.


¶ This might at first seem off the topic of the point regarding the definite article (point well taken) but the English translated verb grammar is atrocious in these published translations (NIV, CSB, NASB, etc.). As some of us, albeit a minority of us, contend, aorist (whether in the indicative or whatever) is not equivalent to English past tense, and Greek has no "past tense." Furthermore, Greek does have a perfect tense (denoting completion), and a number of these English translations employ what would be the equivalent English present perfect tense here (e.g. "...having been reconciled...have now received the reconciliation") when the original text does not employ the perfect tense, yet could have easily done so if that was what was intended! ¶ Rom 5:10-11 proves our point, for it is a present participle, οντες, "being," followed by an aorist indicative "reconcile" [indefinite, timeless, aspect-less, fact, not act], grammatically, "For if being enemies we are reconciled [fact]...much rather, reconciled [fact], we will be saved...through whom now we obtain [fact] the reconciliation." ¶ That does not even make for bad English: "For if being enemies we are reconciled to the God through the death of His Son; much rather, reconciled, we will be saved in His life; yet not only so, but also glorying in the God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom now we obtain the reconciliation." ¶ Of course if you were true to that present participle, οντες, and rendered it, "For if being enemies we were reconciled..." while keeping your "aorist = past tense," then you would grammatically convey the idea that we were reconciled in the past but are now enemies! So, to keep true to your "aorist indicative = past tense" rigor you have to change the present participle into past tense too! ¶ Then, how can the final aorist, ελαβομεν, be rendered past or perfect tense when the adverb, νυν, denotes "now"! ¶ Then, as an aside, ironically, translators always drop the definite article before θεος ("God"). What happened to that definite article? It is there for a reason, to specify "the" "god" the Christians are referring to, which is "this" God (the God of Abraham/Isaac/Jacob) among the pantheon of gods the rest of the world's religions hearken to. But, alas, I understand that this is deeply-rooted English language tradition (tradition, not translation!), to change θεος from a common noun in the original to a proper noun (i.e. name) in modern language tradition, but that is yet another subject. Just don't tell me that any of you are "translating the Greek" there, "letting the chips lie where they fall." ¶ Back to the definite article that is the subject of the video, the third instance of "reconcile" is a noun, and the definite article, as the video aptly points out, refers that noun back to the two previous verb forms of "reconcile," which is why the definite article ought not to be left out. But, you see, the noun form is obviously "fact," and what I am pointing out is that it refers back to two previous verbs also instantiated as aorist "fact."