Tuesday, July 26, 2005

We're all brides, theologically speaking

Marriage is one of the most common images used to describe the relationship between God and his people in scripture. It is also a central theme of John Paul's Theology of the Body. I knew this, and I agreed with it, but then I found a passage in scripture that makes the marriage of God to us absolutely explict. Unfortunately, you won't find it in the New American Bible.

In Romans 7:3-4, Paul talks about marriage. I give the NAB translation:
3 Consequently, while her husband is alive she will be called an adulteress if she consorts with another man. But if her husband dies she is free from that law, and she is not an adulteress if she consorts with another man.
In the same way, my brothers, you also were put to death to the law through the body of Christ, so that you might belong to another, to the one who was raised from the dead in order that we might bear fruit for God.

The key passage is in italics. The word used for "belong" is "gignomai," which can in fact mean "belong," but which also can mean "be married to" when used with the dative. In fact, it is the word used in the previous verse for "consorts", which really should read "is married to", since Paul isn't suggesting the woman can simply have relations with another man, but that she can be married to another man if the first husband dies. So, "gignomai" is translated incorrectly and differently in both places it appears. It is a particularly awful translation, which makes the meaning obscure.

Now, look at the same passage correctly translated, from the King James Version:

Rom 7:3-4
[3] So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
[4] Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

Note that here the word "gignomai" is correctly translated in both places where it occurs as "be married to". The meaning is clear. We are all to be married to Christ, the Bridegroom.


Hugo said...

Thanks for the comment - I always like finding tidbits about Scripture like that. Incidentally, I agree with your previous post - I only have one child (and only one wife!), but they both feel that computer time is wasted time at times! :-)

Blessings & Peace,

Jeff Miller said...

Well I really didn't need any more reasons to dislike the NAB.