Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The “La” Before “Foi” in Romans 12:6: “Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” – Romans 3:3 Geneva Bible

Sunday, June 2, 2013, 22:40
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The “La” Before “Foi” in Romans 12:6:

“Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?”

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Romans 3:3 Geneva Bible

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“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” -Isaiah 1:18

                And if every intelligent being is some way related to being in general, and is a part of the universal system of existence: and so stands in connexion with the whole; what can its general and true beauty be, but its union and consent with the great whole?

-Jonathan Edwards, A Dissertation on the Nature of True Virtue

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Romans 12:6   Geneva Bible   1560

Seeing then that we have gifts that are divers, according to the grace that is given unto us, whether we have prophesy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith.*

Romans 12:6   King James Version   1611

Having gifts differing according to the grace, that is given to us, whether prophesy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith.*

* Greek = pistis   Latin = fides

Romans 12:6 English Revised Version 1881

And having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us, whether prophesy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of our faith.*

Puisque nous avons des dons différents, selon la grâce que a nous ètè accordèe, que celui qui a le don de prophètie l’exerce selon l’analogie de la foi.*

* Greek = pistis   Latin = fides

 


 

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Analogy=ana [upward] + logia [oracles]

Just as Moses adopted a plural Hebrew word “elohim” [gods] and gave it monotheistic meaning [God] in the first five books of the Old Testament, so the apostle Paul deployed the Greek word “analogia” from the ancient world of philosophy and attached special Christian significance to it in Romans 12:6 by linking it to “the faith.”  The cornerstone of ancient philosophical dialogue, “analogia” may be literally translated “upward oracles.” [1]  Analogia” certainly reflects the sacredness which the ancient men of Athens attached to reasoned discourse, and recalls, for this writer, Raphael’s Renaissance painting, The School of Athens, which depicts Plato with one finger pointing upward representing his penchant for universal ideas and Aristotle’s fingers stretched outward representing the particulars of the universe.

In keeping with the fact that there is only “one faith,” [2] Paul’s  “analogy” of it in Romans 12:6 has been understood, especially by Protestants, as a hermeneutical [3] principle essential to the catholicity of churches.  That which the Protestant Reformers associated with Romans 12:6, [4] however, faces a serious challenge in the modern world.  English versions of the Bible have treated Romans 12:6 as if that “faith” is subject to the experience of a prophet.  Beginning with the English Revised Version of 1881, English versions have typically rendered the latter part of verse 6: “if prophesy, in proportion to our faith” [or “his faith”]. [5]  Gerhard Kittel maintained that the context of the “analogy of faith” had to do with the proportion of faith exercised in relation to a person’s own prophetic gift. [6]  Three of the problems associated with this approach to Romans 12:6 require examination.

How to Say “Our” in Greek

First, if Paul in Romans 12:6 were simply referring to the individual prophet’s faith in relation to his prophetic gift, he would ordinarily have used the Greek possessive pronoun in combination with the Greek definite article preceding “pistis” [faith].  Romans 4:5 serves as an example of this construction: “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith [lit. the faith of him] is counted for righteousness.”  Romans 12:6, unlike Romans 4:5, contains no Greek possessive pronoun as a modifier of  the Greek “pistis” [faith].   Modern English Bible committees have simply added the possessive pronoun “our” or “his.”

Analogia” and Its Cousins

“Analogidzomai,” an expansion on the mathematical verb “logidzomai,” is a verbal cousin of the Greek “analogia.”  It can be variously translated as “consider,” “reckon,” or “calculate” connoting the concept of comparison.  In Hebrews 12:3 where it is rendered “consider,”  it carries the sense of comparing [7] the reader’s own plight to that of Jesus the forerunner of the faith.  Contextually, and grammatically as well, in this case it means to reckon or calculate upwardly [8] “looking to Jesus” now seated at the right hand of God.  “Analogia,” in its single occurrence in Holy Scripture, surely conveys the same concept, especially since it is coupled with “faith,” while replete with overtones of comparison, correspondence, and proportion.   “Antilogia,” like “analogidzomai,” also appears in Hebrews 12:3 and is rendered “hostility” (or, more literally, “contradiction” [9] –the very opposite of the  “correspondence” associated with “analogia” in Romans 12:6.

In Romans 8:18 Paul stated, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  Now that is a prime example of an “analogia” of faith involving the verb “logidzomai”!  This text helps Christians  keep things in proper proportion through comparison by way of contrast! [10]

These cognates, “logidzomai,” “analogidzomai,” and “antilogia,” accordingly lend strong etymological support to the objective view of “the analogy of the faith” in Romans 12:6.  While modern English versions, by contrast, subjectivize “faith” contrary to the grammar of Romans 12:6 by inserting a possessive pronoun where none exists in the Greek, they also, in the process, drain the Greek “analogia” of its full-orbed meaning.

Consider the divine logic of 1 John 4:20: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”  Highlighting the contradiction [“antilogia”] or lack of correspondence between  love for God and hatred for one’s brother, 1 John 4:20 helps professing Christians to love by first teaching them how to think logically!  Thus faith and reason go hand-in-hand.

The latter half of Romans 12:6 could appropriately read “if prophesy, in keeping with proper correspondence to the faith,” “if prophecy, in proper proportion corresponding to the faith,” or simply, “if prophecy, conforming to the faith.”  Arnt and Gingrich rendered this critical Greek phrase in Romans 12:6  “in right relationship to” or “in agreement with” (or “proportion to”) the faith. [11]

Much as Plato’s Analogy of the Cave was designed to highlight the value of philosophy to men who refused to think, the Bible itself can accurately be considered “the analogy of the faith” enabling fallen men to overcome their spiritual blindness.  To the same degree that Christ is “the wisdom of God and the power of God,” [12] the Bible is the consummate expression of upward reasoning to renew the minds and hearts of fallen men.

The Importance of the “La”

Quite aside from last month’s lyrical critique of Oscar Hammerstein II’s “note to follow ‘So’”, the “la” in this article signals a second problem in the English versions’ rendering of Romans 12:6–a problem that may also be seen in those English versions prior to 1881!  They omit the definite article as a restrictive modifier of the Greek pistis [faith].  But voilà!  The Nouvelle Edition of the French Bible (La Sainte Bible) translated from the original Hebrew and Greek texts includes the “la” prior to “foi” rendering the critical Greek phrase in Romans 12:6 as “selon l’analogie de la foi.” [“according to the analogy of the faith”].  Vive la France!

Dana and Mantey stated in A Manual of the Greek New Testament,

. . . in the Greek, when it is desired to apply the sense of an abstract noun in some special way the article accompanies it.  Thus, aletheia, truth, means anything in general which presents a character of reality and genuineness, but e aletheia as used in the New Testament means that which may be relied upon as really in accord with God’s revelation in Christ.  The general sense of the abstract noun is restricted, and given a particular application: the particular truth which is revealed in Christ. [13] 

Similarly, the Greek “pistis” [faith] takes on the restricted or objective sense when the definite article precedes it.  The Greek definite article accompanies “pistis” in Romans 12:6 and also in Galatians 1:23; 3:25, James 2:1, and Jude 3.  Accordingly, all of these passages present an objective view of  “faith.”  F. F. Bruce lamented the failure of English translators to convey the Greek definite article as a modifier of “faith” in Hebrews 12:2, along with the insertion of the possessive pronoun “our” which has no Greek correspondent in this verse. [14]    

Secundem Rationem Fidei

Protestant Reformers, Luther, Calvin, Beza et al, were not alone in deriving the principle of the “rule of faith” from Romans 12:6 in an objective manner.  John Wesley so understood Romans 12:6.  So did Jerome and, before him, Tertullian who was born sometime between 150 and 155 A.D. [15]   That a prophet’s authority was secondary to an apostle’s is etymologically reflected in Jerome’s Latin Vulgate rendering of the critical phrase in Romans 12:6:“secundem rationem fidei” which the Douay-Rheims version rendered “according to the rule of faith.”  The Latin “secundum” which means  “following,”“after,” or “according to” is nearly identical to “secundus” meaning “second.” [16]  And this consists well with Paul’s listing prophets as secondary to apostles in 1 Corinthians 12:28.

The fact that “ratio,” the stem of the Latin “rationem,” can also be rendered “system” [17]  implies that, for Jerome, the “analogia of faith” was neither formless nor subjective, but rather a well-organized, rational system of doctrine, the very kind which Paul set forth in the Letter to the Romans.  When the apostle Paul wrote Romans 12:6, a written canon was already in force while undergoing further expansion.  Even when “the faith” in Romans 12:6 is viewed subjectively, an oxymoron, the one who prophesies is to conform not only the degree of his faith, nor only his conduct, but also his message, to what was written. [18]  Given the inevitable interface between the “law of faith” of Romans 3:27 and the “analogy of the faith” of Romans 12:6, in the mind and heart of the apostle Paul, the doctrine of justification by faith alone would have to be at the core of prophesying, if the Letter to the Romans means anything.  And this represents the third problem facing the modern detractors from the analogy of faith hermeneutic.  Moreover, the fact that the only biblical appearance of the Greek word “canon” occurs in a reference to the “new creation” in Galatians 6:15-16 is proof positive that that “rule of the faith” was one of fulfillment, transcending the law of circumcision, and that it was, and continues to be, dynamic [19] in inward application and corroboration by the Holy Spirit. [20]

 

Endnotes

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[1]. New Testament occurrences of “logia” [oracles] are as follows: Acts 7:38; Romans 3:2; Hebrews 5:12; and 1 Pet. 4:11.

[2]. Ephes. 4:5

[3]. Hermeneutics is the science or discipline of biblical interpretation.

[4]. John Calvin, “Preparatory Address,” Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1:12, footnote 5; Joel R. Beeke, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life, pp. 36-37

[5]. English Standard Version

[6]. Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 1:347-348

[7]. F. F. Bruce, Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 355, footnote 3

[8]. The Greek prefix “ana” conveys the meaning of  “up” or “upward,” as evidenced in the following Greek words: “avablepo” [look up]; “anabaino” [go up, ascend]; “anastasis” [resurrection]; and “anagaion” [room upstairs]. Arndt & Gingrich, A Greek -English Lexicon of the New Testament, pp. 49-63

[9]. King James Version

[10]. Note that the words “to be compared” do not appear in the Greek but are included in English to express the meaning inherent in the Greek verb “logidzomai” here rendered “reckon.”

[11]. Arnt & Gingrich, p. 56

[12]. 1 Cor. 1:24

[13]. Dana and Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, 141-42

[14]. F. F. Bruce, Commentary on Hebrews, p. 351

[15]. Tertullian, On Prescription Against Heretics, 12: see also chapter 13: Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, eds. Roberts and Donaldson, 1976, p. 249

[16]. http://www.freedict.com; www.latinvulgate.com

[17]. For a list of variant renderings of “ratio”, see Latin Dictionary and Grammar Aid, University of Notre Dame:  http://archives.nd.edu/latgramm.htm.

[18]. Isaiah 8:20; Rom. 6:17; 1 Cor. 4:6; 2 Pet. 1:16-21; 3:15-18; Jude 3; Rev. 19:10; 22:18-19

[19]. Rom. 1:16-17

[20]. 2 Cor. 5:17;  Col. 2:11-12; 2 Cor. 3:3, 6; Jude 3

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Sources 

Analytical Greek Lexicon.  n.d.  New York: Harper and Brothers.

Arnt, William F. And F. Wilbur Gingrich. 1957. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.  Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Beeke, Joel R. and Mark Jones. 2012. A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books.

Brand, David C. 1991. Profile of the Last Puritan: Jonathan Edwards, Self-Love, and the Dawn of the Beatific. American Academy of Religion Academy Series, edited by Susan Thistlewaite. Atlanta: Scholars Press.

Bruce, F. F. 1961. The English Bible: A history of translations. New York: Oxford University Press.

________. 1964. The Epistle to the Hebrews. The New International commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Calvin, John. 1960. The Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed., John T. McNeill. 2 vols. The Library of Christian Classics. Vols. 21 & 22. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

Dana, H. E., Th.D. and Julius R. Mantey, Th.D., D.D. 1927. A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. New York: The MacMillen Company.

Edwards, Jonathan. 1879. The works of Jonathan Edwards, A.M., rev. & ed., Edward Hickman, 2 vols. 12th edition. London: William Tegg & Co.

Fuller, Daniel P. 1977. “Biblical Theology and the Analogy of Faith.” International Journal of Frontier Missions, Vol. 14:2 Apr.-June 1997.

Geneva Bible. 1560. www.genevabible.org/Geneva.html

Holy Bible (English Standard Version). 2001. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Jamieso-Faussett-Brown: Bible Commentary. 2008. 3 volumes. Hendrickson Publishes, Inc. Peabody, Massachusetts.

Kittel, Gerhard and Gerhard Friedrich, ed. 1964. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, D. Litt., D.D., Translator and Editor. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

La Sainte Bible. 1985. Traduite sur les textes originaux Hebreu et Grec. Nouvelle Edition d’apres la traduction de Louis Segond. London: Trinitarian Bible Society.

Roberts, Rev. Alexander, D.D. and James Donaldson, Ll.D., ed. 1885. The ante-Nicene fathers; Translations of the writings of the fathers down to A.D. 325. Chronologically arranged, with brief notes and prefaces by A. Cleveland Coxe, D.D. Edinburgh: Boston Press. Reprint, Buffalo: The Christian Literature Publishing Company; and Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Tenth Edition. 1994. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.

Online Dictionary: English-Latin http://www.freedict.com

Walker, Williston. [1918] 1952. A History of the Christian Church. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

www.latinvulgate.com

 

About the Writer

David Clark Brand is a retired pastor and educator with missionary experience in Korea and Arizona.  He and his wife reside in Ohio.  They have four grown children and seven  grandchildren.  With a B.A. in the Liberal Arts, an M. Div., and a Th.M. in Church History, Dave continues to enjoy study and writing.  One of his books, a contextual study of the life and thought of Jonathan Edwards, was published by the American Academy of Religion via Scholars Press in Atlanta.

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Romans 12:6   Geneva Bible   1560

Seeing then that we have gifts that are divers, according to the grace that is given unto us, whether we have prophesy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith.*

Romans 12:6   King James Version   1611

Having gifts differing according to the grace, that is given to us, whether prophesy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith.*

* Greek = pistis   Latin = fides

Romans 12:6 English Revised Version 1881

And having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us, whether prophesy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of our faith.*

Puisque nous avons des dons différents, selon la grâce que a nous ètè accordèe, que celui qui a le don de prophètie l’exerce selon l’analogie de la foi.*

* Greek = pistis   Latin = fides


Series Navigation<p></br /></p><< A Note to Follow “So”: “Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” Romans 3:3 Geneva Bible“‘Analogia’ and Paul the Wordsmith”: “Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” – Romans 3:3 Geneva Bible >>


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