Galatians 3:28: Grammar, Text, Context, and Translation -- By: Wayne Walden
JBMW 15:1 (Spring 2010) p. 23
Grammar, Text, Context, and Translation1
Though Paul himself was concerned primarily with the “neither Jew nor Greek” component in this trilogy of pairs, more recent discussion has become occupied with the “no male and female” part. Conclusions drawn from the latter range from those who accommodate homosexuality2to others who see no more in the verse than that the pairs should learn to be compatible.3 The present study comments upon the unusual wording of the verse, which has been only slightly, if at all, reckoned by translators and commentators but which is, nevertheless, vital to the meaning (which is irrelevant to gender roles). Given the deluge of material written on this verse, it comes as somewhat of a surprise that practically no attention has been given to even the most elementary rules of exegesis.4
Two grammatical oddities call for comment. First, the word “is” in the clause “there is neither … nor” is not a form of the usual word “to be” (εἰμί) but is, rather, from the not-so-common ἔνειμι. Four synonyms are, in various contexts, rendered by some form of “to be” in NT Greek, yet none is exactly synonymous with any of the others. Paul employs them all. First from the group, γίνομαι frequently indicates that some change is taking place and thus often means “occur” or “happen”:5 χριστός … γινόμενος … κατάρα (Gal 3:13; “Christ … becoming … a curse,” NIV, NSRV); ὁ νόμος παιδαγωγὸς ἡμῶν γέγονεν (3:24, “the law was our disciplinarian,” NRSV).
The most common word for “be” or “exist” is ειμί:6 Τίτος … ῞Ελλην ὦν (2:3, “Titus … was a Greek,” NIV, NRSV); οὐκ ἐστὲ ὑπὸ νόμον (5:18, “you are not under law,” NIV). If one wants to emphasize resources for existence, a third synonym, ὑπάρχω, is employed, and helping wor...
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