Thursday, February 24, 2011

Translation Note: Romans 7:24

The issue:

Romans 7:24 ends with the rhetorical question, tis me rhusetai ek tou somatos tou thanatou toutou;

The translation issue here is how to render the demonstrative pronoun toutou. Does it modify somatos (i.e., “of this body”) or thanatou (i.e., “of this death”).

The NIV and the NKJV read, “from this body of death.”

The KJV and the NASB read, “from the body of this death.”

Note: This is an example of a place where the NKJV departs from the KJV.


There are two reasons why the pronoun should be taken with death rather than body.

The first is grammatical. The pronoun appears just after the word death. This proximity may well indicate the pronoun’s association with “death” rather than “body.”

The second is contextual and theological. John Murray comments:

“The body of this death” could be rendered “this body of death.” In that event the emphasis would fall upon the body as characterized by death. The context would suggest, however, that the emphasis falls upon “death,” that is to say, upon the death which is intrinsic to or flows from captivity to the law of sin. It is the death belonging to this captivity, and therefore it is much more feasible to take the demonstrative pronoun “this” as referring to death rather than to the body (Romans, Volume I, p. 268).


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