Thursday, January 08, 2015

"by faith alone" or "alone by faith"?


Far more serious, however, is Luther's purposive mistranslation..of Romans 3:28, which reads in the King James Version, 'Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.'  To the word 'faith,' Luther attached the word 'alone,' which does not appear in the text of the Bible, thus changing the meaning of Paul's statement (allein  durch den Glauben, 'alone by faith' in the German word order) for the sake of backing up his own professed faith.  But this misstatement cancels out the entire point of The Letter of James--"by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (2:24)--which Luther derided anyway as an 'epistle of straw' -Heretics and Heroes, p. 224

When Martin Luther translated that verse in his German Bible, he added the word alone (allein), which is not there in the original Greek, after the word faith. He explained:

It is the nature of the German language to add the word allein [alone, only] in order that the word nicht [not] or kein [no] may be clearer and more complete. To be sure, I can also say, “The farmer brings grain and kein money,” but the words “kein money” do not sound as full and clear as if I were to say, “The farmer brings allein grain and kein money.” Here the word allein helps the word kein so much that it becomes a complete, clear German expression. (Luther’s Works 35:189)  Link

 Luther responded to critics:

If your papist prattles any more about this word alone, tell him that Doctor Martin Luther wishes it to be so; sic volo, sic jubeo, sit pro ratione Voluntas—I wish so, I order so, let my will be sufficient reason for it...."Papist' and 'ass' are the same thing    link

 Ironic that the word order  of Luther's translation might actually work (against him); note it doesn't literally say "by faith alone," but "alone by faith"..Hmmm, how might you interpret this:

"So we now hold it, that man is justified, without doing the works of the law, alone by faith."

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