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Source: (consider it) Thread: Romans 8.28
venbede
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# 16669

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In C H Dodd’s 1932 commentary on Roman 8.28 , he comments: “Paul did not write “All things work together for good to them that love God.” The literal translation is “With those who love God, God co-operates in all respects for good.””

The passage is in the lectionary next Sunday. I’ve been comparing various versions and my head hurts. Is the great Congregational scholar right? (The NRVS seems to think not.) What are more recent views? And what are the implications of the different readings?

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Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Thro' the world we safely go.

Posts: 3180 | From: An historic market town nestling in the folds of Surrey's rolling North Downs, | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged
Jengie jon

Semper Reformanda
# 273

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I am using the Online Greek Bible it gives the following for the crucial word συνεργεῖ:

quote:

συνεργέω,v \{soon-erg-eh'-o}
1) to work together, help in work, be partner in labour 2) to put forth power together with and thereby to assist

It is present indicative 3rd person singular.

Not conclusive either way. Also, my brief look at a parsed interlinear seems to suggest that there is also some sense of a Pauline run over into the next verse.

Jengie

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"To violate a persons ability to distinguish fact from fantasy is the epistemological equivalent of rape." Noretta Koertge

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Nigel M
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# 11256

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The interpretation Dodd preferred appears to be based on a choice that had to be made over which textual variant in v.28 one should follow.

A handful of Greek manuscripts include the divine name “God” (ho theos = ὁ θεός) after the verb for “work together” (sunergo = συνεργέω), a verb that Dodd translates as “co-operates”. With the addition of the divine name it is possible to translate the clause “God co-operates…”. With the removal of the divine name, however, the translation would be the alternative: “All things work together / co-operate…”.

So is “God” the subject, or “all things”?

Although the handful of manuscripts that contain the divine name include important early texts, Bruce Metzger notes in his A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (second edition, 1994) that the Committee working on the UBS Greek New Testament “deemed it too narrowly supported to be admitted into the text, particularly in view of the diversified support for the shorter reading.” The Committee was almost certain of this, rather than completely certain. The implication was that the divine was a later addition to the text.

Having said that, it is (sort of) possible when accepting the shorter text, still to see “God” as the subject by scanning back to the previous verses where the Spirit is the subject. Doing things this way would result in a translation akin to “The Spirit [i.e. God] works all things together…”. My own personal take on that is that it feels a bit clumsy here.

One driver behind the desire to interpret God as being the subject, I suspect, is a reaction to the rather strange notion that “all things” do anything at all. To what does “all things” refer? How is it possible for all things to conspire, as it were, against evil? Some readers might feel that there is something vaguely pantheistic about that.

In the wider context, though, Paul is promoting the idea of an endurance of suffering that leads to ultimate glory. The whole of creation is suffering, but the end result for those who are loyal to God is a promised glorification. Perhaps, then, the interpretation would be that creation (= all things) is working and groaning towards this final glorification under God.

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Sarah G
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# 11669

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I think Dodd's pretty much nailed it, yes.

I ran across this writing which seems to make a lot of sense about what Paul means, regardless of the addition or not. Briefly, the key is the word for good ἀγαθὸν (agathon) which means moral good (other contexts).

The flow of the thinking in the context is-

the Spirit helps us (26,27)
to do good things (28)
and in doing this we become God's people (29)
for which we will be rewarded (30+)

The Spirit enables us to synergise our actions with the values of God's Kingdom, to make us the people we should be. Working with God, for God.

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mousethief

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# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by Nigel M:
So is “God” the subject, or “all things”?

What cases are they in? Does that help? JJ says the verb is in the singular. That makes one think the subject is likely to be God, unless "all things" can take a singular verb.

[ 21. August 2017, 01:55: Message edited by: mousethief ]

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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Nigel M
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# 11256

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
What cases are they in? Does that help? JJ says the verb is in the singular. That makes one think the subject is likely to be God, unless "all things" can take a singular verb.

The arrangement of the whole passage runs:

[1] Verbal clause as subject: “We know that”
[2] Nominal clause as object: “for those who love God” (dative case predominates)
[3] Verbal clause as secondary subject: “all things [God] work[s] toward good” (accusative case)
[4] Nominal clause as secondary object: “for those who are called according to his purpose” (dative case)

Those manuscripts that include ‘God’ (ho theos) in the secondary subject phrase [3] do so with the noun in the nominative case, which would make sense if it was to act as the subject of the clause.

Number doesn’t really help much here. The verb ‘work’ is 3rd person masculine singular. ‘God’, of course, would have to be singular, so there is a fit there. ‘All things’ is a plural adjective, but it works with singular verbs as well. Perhaps it is helpful to think of it as close to a collective noun in English.

What makes me think that the ho theos is an addition (rather than original) is that the phrase appears clunky when it is included: “God works all things together for good for those who love God”. Two ‘Gods’? A more natural way to express the phrase if God was the subject would be to use a pronoun at the second instance, I would have thought. Paul is not shy of pronouns, bless him.

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