DebateBlog Fog

This post is based on a comment Antonio DeRosa left at TeamPyro about the DebateBlog exchange with Jodie. In it he said, well, what you will see he said, but as a preface to reading what he said, I want you to see something.

Here are all the major translations into English if James 2:14, less the ESV which you can read via the pop-up:

    14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?

    14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if people claim to have faith but have no deeds? Can such faith save them?

    14My friends, what good is it to say you have faith, when you don't do anything to show that you really do have faith? Can that kind of faith save you?

    14What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?

    14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?

    14 What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but have not works? can that faith save him?

    14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? Can his faith save him?

    14What [is] the profit, my brethren, if faith, any one may speak of having, and works he may not have? is that faith able to save him?

    14 My brethren, what shall it profit, if any man say that he hath faith, but he hath not works? whether faith shall be able to save him?

    4What [is] the profit, my brethren, if any one say he have faith, but have not works? can faith save him?

    14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?

    14What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

13 major translations (including the ESV) in all, and of them 10 translate the phrase indicating that James means there is one kind of faith without works, and another kind of faith which manifests works. The other 3 do something else.

With that information in mind, let's read Antonio's message:
Many translations offer the readings "that faith" or "such faith" where support is supposedly gained by the Greek article appearing before the noun faith. They say that the article has a demonstrative, anaphoric force that refers to something "less than" faith, a substandard faith.

Yet it is impossible to argue that the intended Greek fluent readers of the book of James would pick up on this undetectable grammatical nuance when in the span of only a few sentences there are five occurences in the text that also have the article with the noun "faith" that are clearly not demonstrative (2:17, 18, 20, 22 (a reference to Abraham's faith), and 26). In not a single one of these places that have faith with the article is the rendering "that" faith or "such" faith proposed as natural translations.
Let me say, just to give you a quick breather here, that he's right that the article is not translated in his 5 examples, but while it may be "impossible" to argue what "intended Greek fluent readers" might "pick up", I wonder -- does Antonio think that the committees who translated the 9 English translations which disagree with his point about 2:14 were not "fluent" readers of Greek? It's an interesting idea, and I wonder whether he thinks he can make this argument work.
Therefore, if this is something that James wanted his readers to invariably pick up on, he would have used the Greek far demonstrative pronoun or an adjective. If this is something that he wanted to emphasize and clearly show, why would he make it so confusing by merely using an article before the noun "faith", which he does 5 other times in a span of a few sentences, in a culture that often used the article before abstract nouns? (It is well known that the Greek language, like Spanish and French, often used the definite article with abstract nouns (like faith, hope, love) where the English cannot) It is ludicrous that a Greek reader would pick up on this force. "The addition of "that" or "such" is a shameful reading into the text!

The only way that one can insert the words "this" or "such" into the text is by their interpretation based upon their pre-held theology. This is indeed interpretive. The addition of those words are nothing but interpretation and does not befit responsible literal equivalent translation, especially in light of the overwhelming facts that mitigate succesfully against its being rendered that way.
Another breather for you. Note that I added the underline, above, to make sure you didn't miss that word: shameful. All translation but the KJV/NKJ and Darby are "shameful" translations of James because of their rendering of 2:14.
Any student of the Greek New Testament can examine James' text and see for himself that the article occurs with "faith" only when "faith" is the subject or has a possessive word qualifying it (as in verse 18). Otherwise there is no article.

Well, here's what I think: The exchange with Jodie will last probably until the end of next week if things continue at the current pace. Because the translation and understanding of this passage which I would advance is "shameful", "interpretive", "ludicrous" and and has "overwhelming" evidence against it, I'm going to offer -- again -- to Antonio the opportunity to prove the whole world wrong about this passage by overcoming the world's least-able advocate: me.

Antonio: I'm also going to give you the same advantage I gave Jodie.
-- 1200 word opening statement
-- an exchange lasting 10 questions
-- Question length <= 300 words
-- Answers <= 1000 words
-- finish what you start
-- You get the final word, closing statement not more than 1200 words.

Here's the proposed topic: "Is James comparing two different kinds of faith in James 1&2?" The only limiter is that you cannot cite any biblical passages outside of James 1&2 -- you have to prove your case, or demolish mine, from the text we are examining and not by affirming something about some other passage of Scripture. As a bone, our source text will be the KJV only, or the Greek if Antonio can prove he can sight-read the Greek. I'll have to use an English translation because I cannot sight-read the Greek.

To give you a head's up, here's my opening statement:

"If you stick to the context of James, you don't have to hang your whole theology on one Greek definite article. I think that, given the examples James provides, you can see without much difficulty that James thinks that there are two kinds of faith: one which is an inadequate lipservice or a mere affirmation, and one which saves us not just in the eternal sense but also for the sake of doing good works in the present."

That's it. If you don't want to discuss that, fine: don't pretend that you have settled it by posting your term papers at your own blog. Only a fraudulent person thinks he has answered critics when he will not interact with them. Here's your chance to go air out your grief against the vast majority of translations here, and against the historic theology of the church.

Pack a lunch, bub: you'll need it.