The Grammatical Internal Evidence For ῎Εχομεν In Romans 5:1 -- By: Verlyn D. Verbrugge

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 54:3 (Sep 2011)
Article: The Grammatical Internal Evidence For ῎Εχομεν In Romans 5:1
Author: Verlyn D. Verbrugge

The Grammatical Internal Evidence For ῎Εχομεν In Romans 5:1

Verlyn D. Verbrugge*

*Verlyn Verbrugge is senior editor at large at Zondervan, 5300 Patterson Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49530 and adjunct professor of biblical studies, Kuyper College, 3333 East Beltline Avenue NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525.

Textual critics have long puzzled over the ἔχομεν/ἔχωμεν variant in Rom 5:1—that is, whether the text should read as the indicative or the subjunctive. According to Metzger’s Textual Commentary, the external manuscript evidence for the subjunctive is strong indeed—”far better external support than the indicative.” Nevertheless, both the UBS4 and NA27 Greek New Testaments have the indicative. Thus the choice for the indicative rests on “internal evidence [which] must here take precedence.”1 Those textual critics who choose the indicative (and the majority do) do so on the basis of the sense of Paul’s message in this part of Romans.2

But more can be said about internal evidence than simply the sense of Paul’s message. The seedbed for this article was an observation made in a class on textual criticism taught more than forty years ago by the late Bastiaan Van Elderen of Calvin Theological Seminary. He noted that Rom 5:3 begins with οὐ μόνον δέ, not μὴ μόνον δέ, which suggests that Paul is working with the indicative here, not with the subjunctive. At the time, I figured his observation was commonly acknowledged in commentaries on Romans that deal with textual-critical issues. But as I began to do research in the critical commentaries, I discovered such is not the case.3 Moreover, while a few commentators do

acknowledge that the two occurrences of καυχώμεθα in 5:2b, 3 can be either indicative or subjunctive, no one works back from deciding this issue to see what effect it might have on the ἔχομεν/ἔχωμεν issue in 5:1.4

Interestingly, in his 1978 dissertation on Rom 5:1-11, Michael Wolter deals extensively with the ἔχομεν/ἔχωμεν debate and offers a new argument ...

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