Can “Yes” and “Although” mean the same thing (Rom 1:21)? - Mondays with Mounce 269
Paul is arguing that all the world clearly understands God’s invisible attributes, and therefore they are without excuse for not responding properly (Rom 1:20).
V 21 then begins, “For even though they knew (διότι γνόντες) God, they did not honor him as God.” διότι is a causal connector; Paul is telling us why there is no excuse and why God’s punishment is just. But it is the γνόντες that caught my attention.
Grammatically, γνόντες is an adverbial participle, and contextually we can tell it is concessive. “For even though they knew God” (NASB). “For although they knew God” (ESV, HCSB, NIV, KJV; cf. NRSV, NET).
The NLT does a great job with this verse. “Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God.” Part of their reasoning (I would assume) is that they wanted to break a long Greek sentence into pieces, and v 21 is a good place. But they didn’t want to break the flow of argument. So how do you do that with a strong eye to English style?
Translating grammar is one thing. Translating for English style is another. The more word-for-word translations give less concern to English style; the more dynamic give greater concern to the target language.
I think the NLT did a great job here.
William D. [Bill] Mounce posts about the Greek language, exegesis, and related topics on the ZA Blog. He is the author of numerous works including the recent Basics of Biblical Greek Video Lectures and the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek. He is the general editor of Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words. He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version Bible translation, and is currently on the Committee for Bible Translation for the NIV. The Mounce Reverse-Interlinear™ New Testament is available to freely read on Bible Gateway.
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