Saturday, November 4th, 2017

The Reformation: Built on a Blunder?


Historians especially and specialists in New Testament Greek should note that this is merely a question a ’wondering out loud’ despite the statements that follow.

Almost everyone will say that the enduring maxim arising from Martin Luther’s reformation is sola scriptura sola fides (scripture alone, faith alone) because as Romans 1:17b says “…the just shall live by faith.”

As I say in an article in the upcoming issue of our denominational paper The Baptist Reporter

“I would modify the translation of the last part of v. 17 ‘the just shall live by faith’ because it does not quite capture how Paul in the Greek slightly tweaks the Hebrew of Habakkuk 2:4.

Paul is not highlighting the means whereby the just live. But here he hints and later in the epistle he is arguing about 2 ways of seeking to be just before God (see especially Rom. 10:4-6).

Seek God’s justice by faith (Greek: ek pisteōs), and be declared just by God or seek God’s justice by works of [the] law (Greek: ek [tou] nomou) and “yu salt” [= your effort is futile].

My translation of v. 17 would read “For in the gospel, the justice from God is revealed from faith to faith as it is written ‘the just-by-faith will live.’”

Paul’s epistle to the Galatians argues as well about these 2 ways of seeking to be just before God. See especially what is regarded as the thesis statement of this epistle 2:16 (Greek: ex ergōn nomou, by works of law vs. dia pisteōs, through faith).

So then, might the scriptural heart of Luther’s reformation be a (slight?) misreading of scripture?

Just asking, ok mischievously, since I am no historian.

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