The Aorist Participle In Romans 10:5, And Gal. 3:12 -- By: W. G. Ballantine

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 047:186 (Apr 1890)
Article: The Aorist Participle In Romans 10:5, And Gal. 3:12
Author: W. G. Ballantine


The Aorist Participle In Romans 10:5, And Gal. 3:12

W. G. Ballantine

In these two passages Paul quotes from Lev. 18:5, which reads in

full: “Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord.” The literal translation of the Hebrew of the words quoted by Paul is, “which the [a] man shall do and shall live in them.” The Septuagint version, which Paul here appropriates, is, ὁ ποιήσας αὐτὰ ἄνθρωπος ζήσεται ἐν αὐτοῖς.

The question naturally arises, How did the LXX. come to render the Hebrew future indicative by the Greek aorist participle? Was it from simple grossness and failure to feel the delicate distinctions of Hebrew and Greek syntax? We think just the contrary. The Septuagint translators felt the period to be, just what it is, general future supposition. The full typical form for the protasis of such a period would have been ὅς ἂν ποιήσῃ αὐτά. But they had also a perfect right, according to the laws of Greek syntax, to condense such a protasis into the form ὁ ποιήσας, aorist participle regularly representing the aorist subjunctive. This principle has been only recently discovered, but is now fully recognized by grammarians. Professor Goodwin, in the new edition of his Greek Moods and Tenses, which has just appeared, says (§472): “When a participle represents the protasis, its tense is always that in which the verb itself would have stood in the indicative, subjunctive or optative.” In g 473 he says: “The future participle is not used to represent the future indicative in future conditions. The present and aorist participles, when they represent the present and aorist subjunctive, express future conditions, thus making the future participle unnecessary.” Accordingly, the most precise rendering of the words as they stand in the LXX. is, “Whatsoever man shall do them shall live in them.” The most precise rendering of Rom. 10:5, is, “For Moses writeth that whatsoever man shall do the righteousness which is of the law shall live thereby.” The most precise rendering of Gal. 3:12, is, “And the law is not of faith; but, Whosoever shall do them shall live in them.” But English consciousness is not very sensitive to the difference between “he that” and “whosoever,” and we use the present freely in future protases. Indeed, the indefiniteness of our present corresponds more nearly to the indefiniteness of...

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