The NASB renders Galatians 2:16 as follows:
nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus . . .
The way this is rendered, it sounds like "Not A, but rather B!" I was just reading this in the original Greek though and it says the following:
εἰδότες δὲ ὅτι οὐ δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ἔργων νόμου, ἐὰν μὴ διὰ πίστεως Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ . . .
So here is my question: Does εαν μη here really mean "but"?
Could εαν μη here be literally rendered "if not", suggesting that a man is not justified out of works if he has no faith in Christ? (In other words, the central issue is a lack of faith during works, not whether or not there are works of the Law.)
If memory serves, either εαν μη or ει μη is the standard way of saying "except" in Greek. Could it be saying that a man is not justified out of works of the Law except that he have faith in Christ? (In other words, this is the general rule with only one exception.)
If "but" truly is the correct rendition of εαν μη here, please explain why this is acceptable grammatically. (As opposed to simply citing context or theology. I'm mainly wondering why this Greek construction was used here.)