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I do not read Hebrew or Greek but my interpretation of Pauline epistles is different than traditional protestants.
Gal 3:21 (ESV) Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.
Gal 2:21; I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
The issue here is with a law as rendered by all major Eng translations for nomos. I don’t think the article “a” is definitive or explicit here but it is a interpretive bias that the author is talking about any/all law instead of “the/this law” the law of Moses specifically. Their interpretive assumption is that all arguments are normative- as in no law can/could ever make us righteous, give life or justify rather than “the Mosaic law cannot justify now”.
This is not the case in couple of versions such as
NLT 21b If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it.
So is this analysis correct that the original language do not state an article there but it is only an interpretive rendering? How is it justified?
additional translations varying from the majority.
GOD’S WORD Translation
If those laws could give us life, then
certainly we would receive God’s approval because we obeyed them.
The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)
If the Law that was given had been
capable of giving life, then certainly saving justice would have come
from the Law.
Names of God Bible If those laws could give us life, then certainly we would receive God’s approval because we obeyed them.
The majority translations imply the interpretation that the law of Moses could never give life and in fact no law could or can ever give life.
The phrase “had been given” for (edothē) also makes a big impact in the meaning of sentence in the majority of translations. Saying a law had not been given that could justify almost certainly entails a reading that no capable law had been ever given, in other words a definite meaning that Mosaic law could never justify. I see in the Englishman’s concordance that word is translated “had been given” only once out of 31 occurrences. On the other hand NJB despite having “had been” does not suggest that majority meaning. The other minority versions “if the law could” is way objective and seems easy. It is surprising to me that the majority versions don’t even mention the alternate translations in footnotes to show the huge significance.
It is supposed to be among the most difficult verse list for translators. Is there any discussion on this in academia?
Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed be by law. LSB
Duane L Burgess who knows? John Mushenhouse