A Language/Translation Question

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Ijiwaru Sensei, Jun 11, 2006.

  1. Ijiwaru Sensei

    Ijiwaru Sensei
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    I'm a newbie to these boards, so if this question should be posted elsewhere, please let me know.

    Romans 6:23--For the wages of sin is death. . . .

    In this clause, "for" is not a preposition, but a conjunction linking this verse to the previous verse. "Wages" is the subject of the sentence. "Of sin" is a prepositional phrase. "Is" is the verb. And "death" is the subject complement/predicate nominative.

    If "wages," which is plural, is the subject and "is," which is singular, is the verb, why did the translators not have the subject agree with its verb?

    Now, if anyone is awake after the lead up to this question, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the verse's use of grammar. Thanks.
     
  2. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    Perhaps partly because the Greek has plural wages with singular death.
     
  3. Ed Edwards

    Ed Edwards
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    My dictionary says of the noun form:

    formerly the plural form was
    often construed as singular ["The wages
    of sin is death"]

    WEBSTER'S NEW WORLD DICTIONARY of
    the American Language (William Colins & World Publishing, 1978)
     
  4. Ijiwaru Sensei

    Ijiwaru Sensei
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    That makes some sense. I think most modern translations try to work around what would be a grammar problem in contemporary English usage.

    Thanks.
     
  5. gekko

    gekko
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    "If "wages," which is plural, is the subject and "is," which is singular, is the verb, why did the translators not have the subject agree with its verb?"

    umm. who cares? it is still understandable... no?
    unless you have a pet-peeve with improper grammer... then that's a whole other ball-park! :)
     
  6. LeBuick

    LeBuick
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    Because you only die one time.
     
  7. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Hi, Ijiwaru Sensei. Welcome to the BB! :wavey:

    Good question! None of my commentaries cover it. Ed Edwards has a good comment and I think he is right on target. Here are my further comments.

    Look up the verse in your KJV and you will notice that the "is" is in italics, meaning as you know that it was supplied by the translators and is not in the original. Greek sometimes does this. So, the form of the "be verb" had to be supplied by the translators: "is" or "are." In the Greek death is singular, which must be spiritual death, making it a more important word than "wages," meaning it should be the word emphasized. Therefore, the translators of the various versions almost always put the emphasis on "death" rather than "wages."

    By the way, I like your name, "Ijiwaru Sensei." Have you lived in Japan?

    God bless.

    John of Japan
     
  8. gekko

    gekko
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    if i work for one hour - and i gain $1.00 - i've earned my wages.
    wage/wages - who cares. same word - same meaning
    ---

    we only die once - i can agree with that.
    not for those who die in their sins though. - they die a SECOND death.
    love plurals :)
     
  9. Ijiwaru Sensei

    Ijiwaru Sensei
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    Well, I care.

    Clear and effective communication is bound up in a proper use of grammar.

    And that is "grammar," not "grammer," unless you are talking about Kelsey, which would mean, of course, that you would need to capitalize "Grammer.":smilewinkgrin:
     
  10. Ijiwaru Sensei

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    Would you really say my wages is $1.00 an hour?
     
  11. Ijiwaru Sensei

    Ijiwaru Sensei
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    Yes, but subjects and verbs must still agree in English. English has other ways of emphasizing ideas. I was just wondering what the rationale was of the translators for translating the verse the way they did.

    Yes, I taught English in Japan for about six and a half years. My Nihongo was never very good, but now, having been away from Japan for the last seven years, it's even worse.

    Thanks for the welcome.
     
  12. gekko

    gekko
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    yup. dont matter to me - says the same thing as "your wage for this hour is $1.00"

    doesn't make a difference to me.
     
  13. Ijiwaru Sensei

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    Well . . . okay.
     
  14. canadyjd

    canadyjd
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    As has been said, the Greek has plural wages and singular death. A lot of bad theology has come from translators trying to "fix" the grammar of the text to fit their language.

    Instead of trying to force an English construct onto the grammar, why not meditate on what God is revealing to us in the passage?

    "Sin" is being personified as a master, to whom the unregenerate sinner belongs to as a slave. In that era, slaves oftened received an allowance or "wages". They could save for many years and eventually buy their freedom.

    Not so when "Sin" is the master. The only wages to be expected was a sure death (both physical and spiritual). In contrast, the "slaves of God" (v.22) receive a "free-gift" (not worked for, expected, or earned) of sanctification and eternal life in Christ Jesus.

    peace to you:praise:
     
  15. Ijiwaru Sensei

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    Yes, but those words are not the words in question, but rather the be verb that connects them. The verbs "is" and "are" are the same word. And as the previous sentence illustrates, you can have a plural subject with a singular subject complement.

    Ed's answer made sense. That the plural word "wages" has the quirky ability to at times take a singular verb is very interesting.

    It is often necessary to do just that in order to translate from one language to another. It is hard to meditate on a passage if the grammar warps the meaning.
     

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