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In the NASB, Romans 4:25 (emphasis mine) reads:

He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

However, in the ESV (emphasis mine) it reads:

...who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

These are very different statements. Was Jesus raised 'for our justification' or 'because of' it?

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2 Answers 2

In Greek the causal preposition 'dia' allows and at times even seems to require a final meaning. (Aristotle had described four causes: material, formal, effective, a n d final cause, which all four respond to the question 'dia ti?' - why?).

Western sciences have - in the wake and philosophical decline after evolution theory depreciated the concept of finality as purely cultural. The end does - in science - not count as a cause (and reason) any more, because nature - according to modernists - can not have purpose.

Meanings (like words) once they are lost are hard to regain. The fourth cause - the final and prospective - has gotten widely disregarded as overly scholastic and biased towards the presuppositions of any given theological (and teleological) concept.

The distinction between causality and finality (almost to an opposition) is a modern one. As the English particle 'for' allows for either meaning (and is short) it is perhaps the best choice to translate the Greek 'dia' in this context. (The change from the retrospective to the prospective dia even adds to the parallel.)

There is indeed a beauty in the wording:

paredothe dia ta paraptomata hemon -
kai egerthe dia ten dikaiosin hemon

given over for the stepping over of us -
raised up for the justification of us

In Mark 2:27 there is a similar use of 'dia':

to sabbaton dia ton anthropon egeneto kai ouk ho anthropos dia to sabbaton

the Sabbath came to be for the human and not the human for the Sabbath

Here again it seems quite natural to understand 'dia' as being used in its final sense (of purpose).

If possible, a translation that wants to be faithful to the rhythm and emphasis and weight of the expression, should not render one small particle (here: dia) by two (three) or even four words (like these: because - by cause - of, for the sake of).

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Please clarify your actual response to the question. I don't see how Aristotle's four causes is relevant as they actually have nothing to do with the meaning of the preposition as much as nature itself. Also, as it stands this is more of a comment than an answer. Explain how it is relevant (i.e. identify some more sources closer to the writing of Romans as well. Aristotle predates the writing of Romans by approximately 380 years. His thoughts on a preposition may be somewhat anachronistic - but not necessarily). –  Daи Jul 15 '13 at 2:20
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Let me reiterate that I'm open to this being a good answer, I'm just not following how you're connecting the dots. Essentially I'm asking you to "show your work" when it comes to your logic / train of thought here. –  Daи Jul 15 '13 at 2:27
    
I mentioned Aristotle because he understands an end as a cause. And by asking for this (final) cause - dia ti - he comments on this aspect of the meaning of dia. The thing about the sciences I mentioned to remind of our training in disregarding finality as a cause. –  hannes Jul 16 '13 at 20:07
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can you provider a source so I (and other users) can read where Aristotle comments on the meaning of the preposition? Everything I've found focuses on Aristotle addressing the answer to the question "why?" (δἱα τἱ;), as this is the foundation of what we call "science." Just because the question uses the preposition δἱα does not mean Aristotle is commenting on that meaning of the word itself. He is critiquing Plato's philosophy of Forms. Unless I'm missing something.... –  Daи Jul 16 '13 at 20:15
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@hannes I'm having a hard time following all of this. How does this actually answer the question? Please bring the concepts/assertions that you're setting forth to bear on the question as it stands and please do it in the answer. As it stands it seems like you're substituting the means of exploration (dia ti ... "through/for what?") with the content of the exploration itself. It seems like a stretch to correlate in investigative question with the actual content. –  swasheck Jul 17 '13 at 21:38
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The Greek text for Romans 4:25 (from the NA28, emphasis mine) reads:

ὃς παρεδόθη διὰ τὰ παραπτώματα ἡμῶν καὶ ἠγέρθη διὰ τὴν δικαίωσιν ἡμῶν.

The preposition διὰ followed by an accusative generally has a gloss of "on account of" or "because of," but could also carry the connotation "for the sake of." It almost always carries the force of the NASB translation, but could also contain the sense of the ESV (although I suspect this concession is only made in many resources because of this passage, which lends more strength to the causal sense). The NET chose to translate it as follows (emphasis mine):

He was given over because of our transgressions and was raised for the sake of our justification.

My main problem is that the exact same preposition followed by an accusative is almost always translated as causal in the preceding clause ("He was given over because of our transgressions"), and yet when the exact same construction appears the second time in the exact same sentence, people translate it differently (the ESV is at least consistent). Despite this translation choice (similar to the ESV), the NET translators acknowledge that the Greek carries the causal sense brought out in the NASB translation:

Grk “because of.” However, in light of the unsatisfactory sense that a causal nuance would here suggest, it has been argued that the second διά (dia) is prospective rather than retrospective (D. Moo, Romans [NICNT], 288-89). The difficulty of this interpretation is the structural balance that both διά phrases provide (“given over because of our transgressions…raised because of our justification”). However the poetic structure of this verse strengthens the likelihood that the clauses each have a different force.

The NET translators further elaborate on the poetic sense:

Many scholars regard Rom 4:25 to be poetic or hymnic. These terms are used broadly to refer to the genre of writing, not to the content. There are two broad criteria for determining if a passage is poetic or hymnic: “(a) stylistic: a certain rhythmical lilt when the passages are read aloud, the presence of parallelismus membrorum (i.e., an arrangement into couplets), the semblance of some metre, and the presence of rhetorical devices such as alliteration, chiasmus, and antithesis; and (b) linguistic: an unusual vocabulary, particularly the presence of theological terms, which is different from the surrounding context” (P. T. O’Brien, Philippians [NIGTC], 188-89). Classifying a passage as hymnic or poetic is important because understanding this genre can provide keys to interpretation. However, not all scholars agree that the above criteria are present in this passage.

The NASB translation is most faithful to the literal sense of the Greek in this passage, but scholars who are troubled by the "unsatisfactory sense that a causal nuance would here suggest" have proposed alternative ways of translating this passage that actually change the natural emphasis given to the preposition διὰ (for theological reasons). I personally think it is best to translate this passage as it is written (as the NASB has) with a footnote that indicates that the line may be poetic or carry the sense of "for the sake of" in this context. This would be the most consistent, especially since the preceding clause in the same sentence is also best translated as causal.

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