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March 29, 2007 / Daniel

Richard Hays’ translation of Romans 4:1

Some sources which? claim that it was Metatron...

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The New Perspective on Paul has offered many insights in the interpretation of the book of Romans.    Consider Romans 4:1 for example.  Traditionally Romans 4:1 is translated:

“What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?” (NASB).

However, Richard Hays, a Duke prof and Pauline scholar, has proposed that it should be translated like this:

“What shall we say then? Have we found Abraham to be our forefather according to the flesh?”

Hays defends this translation by pointing out the phrase “what shall we say then” serves typically as an introduction to a second question.  Here are some examples.

Romans 6:1

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?

Romans 7:7

What shall we say then? Is the Law sin?

Romans 9:14

What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there?

If Hays’ translation is right, then the question that Paul is dealing with in Rom. 4 is how is someone related to Abraham?  Who belongs to the covenant family?  Those who seek to be justified by the works of the law? Or those who seek to be justified by faith in Jesus?

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