Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Can “Yes” and “Although” mean the same thing (Rom 1:21)?

Paul is arguing that all the world clearly understands God’s invisible attributes, and therefore they are without excuse for not responding properly (Rom 1:20).

V 21 then begins, “For even though they knew (διότι γνόντες) God, they did not honor him as God.” διότι is a causal connector; Paul is telling us why there is no excuse and why God’s punishment is just. But it is the γνόντες that caught my attention.

Grammatically, γνόντες is an adverbial participle, and contextually we can tell it is concessive. “For even though they knew God” (NASB). “For although they knew God” (ESV, HCSB, NIV, KJV; cf. NRSV, NET).

The NLT does a great job with this verse. “Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God.” Part of their reasoning (I would assume) is that they wanted to break a long Greek sentence into pieces, and v 21 is a good place. But they didn’t want to break the flow of argument. So how do you do that with a strong eye to English style?

Translating grammar is one thing. Translating for English style is another. The more word-for-word translations give less concern to English style;  the more dynamic give greater concern to the taerget language.

I think the NLT did a great job here.