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RUSETAI in 2 Corinthians 1:10

RUSETAI in 2 Corinthians 1:10

This is not a seriously doubtful textual issue, but I wanted to make a brief summary and comment on it, because it can help illustrate the interaction between internal and external evidence in a case where the two point in the same direction. For a very brief outline of textual criticism, see Textual Criticism-Briefly. In addition, this is discussed briefly in the Anchor Bible commentary on 2 Corinthians I’m currently reading, so I’m doing something to fulfill my promise to blog my reading.

The text, very literally translated, reads thus:

He who from such a death [peril of death] saved us (aorist of ruomai), and will save (future of ruomai), [that is] the one on whom we have hoped, will also yet save (future of ruomai) us.

Now let me present the ESV, which is very literal, but a bit more readable:

He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.

You can probably see a number of translation issues, such as where in the translation does “on him we have set our hope” belong. It can equally be translated with the final “rusetai” as with the second one. These three repetitions of the same word have created a bit of a textual jumble, but in this case we have good external attestation for a single reading, and the internal evidence backs it up.

One key textual rule is that the more difficult text, if one can make any sense of it, is to be preferred. Why is this? Well, scribes tended to correct in order to clarify. On the other hand, the rule is not absolute, because scribes would make errors that created nonsense. So everything has to be used with care.

Furnish (AB) simply comments that “[t]he text translated has the best attestation, however (P46 [aleph] B C et al.), and the variants doubtless originated as attempts to deal with the fact that the kai rysetai appears twice, . . .” (pp. 114-115)

Metzger makes a similar note, but points out further that a number of slightly later manuscripts (A D* [psi] itd,61 syrp ethpp) simply omit it, and some even later ones correct the second instance of ruomai to the present tense.

I’m not going to try to cite all this external evidence in detail. The external evidence seems pretty convincing to me, even though Metzger’s textual commentary only rates the reading a C. (I’m working from the companion to the 3rd edition, not the current one to which I linked.) The internal evidence is strong, however. The later readings are simply explained by the earlier.

  1. There is no reason why a scribe who encountered the verse with only two repetitions would add another.
  2. There is no reason to alter the second instance to present, unless one is making a sequence of aorist, present, future.
  3. There is every reason to make either alteration if one is presented with all three together, including two repetitions of the future.

Thus the internal evidence seems compelling to me combined with the good external evidence.

Literal Nonsense – the HCSB of 2 Corinthians 8:11-12

Literal Nonsense – the HCSB of 2 Corinthians 8:11-12

I’m doing some studying in 2 Corinthians right now, and I encountered the following translation while reading it through in the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB):

11But now finish the task as well, that just as there was eagerness to desire it, so there may also be a completion from what you have. 12For if the eagerness is there, it is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.

If you get additional context, more than I want to quote here, it will make it just a bit clearer, but it is still somewhat hard to follow. Also, I don’t intend this particularly as a criticism of the HCSB, though obviously I think such a translation in a major Bible version should be fixed. Rather, I think it is a good example of how a very literal (or formal equivalence) translation can be nonsense in the target language.

This HCSB version follows the Greek fairly closely. In fact, it looks a bit like a student Greek exercise, following which I would tell the student, “Now that is a good draft and shows me you have found the words in your lexicon. Now we need to make it into English.”

The English Standard Version (ESV) is only slightly better:

11So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.

Now compare those two translations to a dynamic equivalence version, the New Living Translation (NLT):

11Now you should carry this project through to completion just as enthusiastically as you began it. Give whatever you can according to what you have. 12If you are really eager to give, it isn’t important how much you are able to give. God wants you to give what you have, not what you don’t have.

Now certainly the NLT has made some choices is clearing up the confusion. I don’t think the text as it is even suggests the real possibilities for translation. This isn’t preserving ambiguity–it’s nonsense.

Capitalization as a Translation Issue in the Hebrew Scriptures

Capitalization as a Translation Issue in the Hebrew Scriptures

In my ratings for the Bible Version Selection Tool, one of the areas on which I compare translations is capitalization of pronouns referring to God or to Jesus. The interesting thing about this is that the Hebrew text has no analog to capitalization of any kind, while edited Greek texts and some late manuscripts can mix majuscule and miniscule forms, the rules are hardly the same, and such capitalization cannot derive from the autographs which, like the Hebrew, did not use capitalization rules.

There are two reasons I rate this. The first is practical. I regularly encounter people who consider it disrespectful to write a pronoun referring to God in all lower case. This is a peculiarity, I think, and I certainly don’t capitalize pronouns referring to God any more than any other pronouns in my own writing. A number of modern versions, such as the NRSV, ESV, and CEV don’t use such capitalization.

Recently, while reading some texts in the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), I noted this capitalization in Isaiah 42, which illustrates some of the potential problems with this practice. (For those interested, Psalm 22 presents similar issues in the NKJV, but the HCSB does not follow the same practice there as in Isaiah 42.)

This is My Servant; I strengthen Him,
this is My Chosen One; I delight in Him;
He will bring justice to the nations. — Isaiah 42:1 (HCSB)

Notice that pronouns referring both to God and to the servant are capitalized. I found this practice in the NKJV and NASB as well for this passage. “Spirit” is a special case, which I have discussed elsewhere. Should the word “spirit” be capitalized in the Hebrew scriptures which do not teach the doctrine of the trinity? My personal answer would be “no,” and the REB and the NRSV follow that practice. The NLT and CEV, which do not capitalize the pronouns in this passage do capitalize the word “Spirit.”

The potential problem here is that the nature of the servant is somewhat controversial. Elsewhere (Isaiah 49:1-6 for example) the servant is identified as Israel. In Isaiah 53, Christians generally identify the servant with Jesus. There are those who would identify the servant as Jesus throughout the servant songs, dealing variously with passages identifying Israel in that role, while others would view Israel as the servant throughout. One option describes the servant as the remnant of Israel, taken into exile, and then redeemed, and sees Jesus as the ultimate representative of Israel, and thus the servant can be properly read as both Israel as a whole and the one individual, Jesus. Some would hold that different servant songs require a different identification of the servant.

I am in no way trying to cover all the options on interpreting the servant songs. I’m simply pointing out that there are a variety of views. I would say that the scholarly consensus is Israel (see notes in the Oxford Study Bible and the New Interpreter’s Study Bible for good summaries of the consensus view). Thus with something as simple as the choice to capitalize or not capitalize certain pronouns, the translators tip their hand as to how they would interpret the passages in question.

I doubt that most readers would notice this detail and make anything of it. The impression would be relatively subtle. And I would not automatically condemn translators for doing so. If the dialect into which they are translating the passage requires that pronouns referring to deity be capitalized, then they are subtly passing on their interpretation whether they capitalize or not. For what it’s worth, I believe that modern American usage tends against capitalizing. Readers who do not expect capitalization will probably simply think the text looks a bit odd.

Raymond Brown on Ambiguities and Literal Translation

Raymond Brown on Ambiguities and Literal Translation

After my comments earlier about Piper and the ESV, I found this comment by Raymond Brown in An Introduction to the New Testament:

For the purpose of careful reading or study, which concerns us here, one must recognize that sometimes the biblical authors did not write clearly, so that the original texts contain certain phrases that are ambiguous or difficult to understand. In some instances translators have to guess at the meaning. They must choose either to render literally and preserve the ambiguity of the original, or to render freely and resolve the ambiguity. . . .

Brown continues by describing such a freer translation as a commentary built into the translated text.

I have enormous respect for Dr. Raymond Brown, but I have to disagree with him here. The best explanation I can think of for his making this comment is that he overestimates the ability of the average reader to discover to range of possible meanings that the translated text might carry. In almost all cases I would regard it as more appropriate for the lay person to use multiple translations, reading of footnotes, and careful attention to the context to resolve ambiguity. The English text does not tend to suggest the same range of possible meanings as does the Greek or Hebrew text, in my experience.

Most questions I’ve gotten on this result from the consistent translation of the Greek genitive with English “of” + some noun. English readers frequently find this ambiguous, and possibly more frequently they find it meaningless.

I’m going to begin collecting ambiguous renderings from formal equivalence translations into English, where the ambiguity of the English text does not match the ambiguity of the source text. I’d be interested in any specific suggestions. I will post results here in a later blog post.

Misunderstanding Translations

Misunderstanding Translations

A friend drew my attention to this article on the ESV today, and I’m deeply disappointed in what I found there. I’m going to comment on some key difficulties with that article. But the author also links to this article by John Piper, which doesn’t so much surprise me, as put in context some other things that I’ve seen in his writing.

Let’s look at Piper’s article first. A few days ago, in blogging on Piper’s book The Future of Justification, and specifically on his response to N. T. Wright’s understanding of 2 Corinthians 5:21, I commented on how much Piper’s book seemed to be driven by how certain interpretations would preach. There are a set of doctrines which Piper believes, and he seems to look first for an affirmation of this reformed doctrine that he teaches, and then he’s looking for texts that he can use to preach those messages effectively. It would be easy to overstate that case, because Piper can and does use exegetical arguments for his point of view, and undoubtedly defends certain doctrines because he believes they are Biblical, but there is simply a different flavor in what he writes than there is in N. T. Wright.

But here, when he turns to Bible translation, there are simply numerous points that sound naive to a student of Biblical languages. Since I’m pretty sure Piper is not naive, I am led to believe that he is being drawn to use these arguments due to his strong views on other doctrinal points. Let’s take a look. Piper says:

. . . My biggest concern has to do with preaching. When a paraphrase becomes the standard preaching, reading, memorizing Bible of the church, preaching is weakened—robust expository exultation in the pulpit is made more difficult. Preaching that gives clear explanations and arguments from the wording of specific Biblical texts tends to be undermined when a Bible paraphrases instead of preserving the original wording on good English. And when that kind of preaching is undermined, the whole level of Christian thinking in the church goes down, and a Bible-saturated worldview is weakened, and the ability of the people—and even the pastors themselves-to root their thoughts and affections in firm Biblical ground diminishes.

You will note that he makes explicit what I have been observing. Preaching is driving him on these issues. That’s not entirely bad. The man is clearly a very gifted preacher, and he should be concerned.

But look at the next sentence. “When a paraphrase becomes the standard, preaching is weakened.” The specific example of paraphrasing that he has in view is the NIV. This is not the loose paraphrasing of The Living Bible; we’re talking about the quite conservative translation principles of the NIV. So why is it that he believes preaching is weaked? “Preaching that gives clear explanations and arguments from the wording of specific Biblical texts tends to be undermined when a Bible paraphrases instead of preserving the original wording on [sic] good English.” Did I read that right? Paraphrasing replaces the original wording, and whatever other variety of translation, presumably that used by the ESV, preserves the original reading.

Well, I have news for you folks here. I can read Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. I study from those original languages regularly. Nowhere in them is there found a single word that matches the ESV or any other literal English translation. Why? Because the English translations are in English rather than in Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic. Now somebody is thinking that Piper knows that, so he must mean something else. If you think that, please comment and show me where Piper indicates that he knows that. In fact, in the very sentence I just quoted, he points to the problem of arguments from “the wording of specific Biblical texts.” The only way that you have the “wording of specific Biblical texts” is if you have it in the original languages.

The advocates of literal Bible translation, or formal equivalence which is a more descriptive phrase, play a game of pretend. They try to get English wording that looks as much like Greek (or Hebrew, or Aramaic) wording as it’s possible for English wording to manage, and then they pretend that this is somehow more equivalent to the source language. But that assumes several things, all of which are generally not true.

  1. The meaning is primarily contained independently in the words. This is untrue. Without context, which includes the grammatical form of the words and the syntax in which they are used, one can be dangerously wrong about the meaning of a specific word. Very often the translation unit has to be the phrase or even larger in order to get the original intent.
  2. English words arranged like Greek words will suggest a similar range of meanings to the reader. Again, this is false. In fact, they will almost always suggest a different range of meanings. Context in the target language (English in this case) saves the translator over and over, because an English word that might overlap only slightly with its English counterpart can be clarified through creative use of the context. One word might be translated by a phrase. In other cases a word might be translated by a punctuation mark.
  3. The English reader is best equipped to disambiguate an ambiguous passage, thus the ambiguity should be preserved in the translation. Again, this is horribly naive. It is hard enough conveying a precise meaning for a Greek phrase or sentence in English. It is virtually impossible to convey the same range of possible meanings, with the same weighting in English.

Those are only a few examples.

Piper goes on with several reasons why literal translations should be preserved. He says: “A more literal translation respects the original author’s way of writing.” What? Again, the word “naive” comes to mind, but I have a hard time thinking it of Piper. It seems more logical that his commitment to certain doctrinal positions unduly influences him. But I can tell you that style is again terribly difficult to translate. One can aim for a similar level of formality, but actually reflecting the original style? It is actually much easier to respect the style of the original in paraphrasing. I have often thought that the only way to truly respect the style of the book of Hebrews in a translation, for example, would be to completely rewrite it into a more modern sermon style outline. That would, of course, require massive paraphrasing, and would create numerous other areas in which the translation was less reflective of the original, but it might get the picture of the high quality style of the original. What many critics of dynamic equivalent (or functional equivalence) translations fail to realize is that translation always involves compromise. You will convey some things to your readers, and others you will not.

His point #4 on the ESV, however, is bluntly a howler:

A more literal translation which preserves ambiguities that are really there in the original keeps open the possibility of new insight by future Bible readers.

The only place the ambiguities are fully preserved is in the text in the original language, and it is only preserved for those willing to put in the effort to attain an adequate reading level in the source languages to truly work through those possibilities. No translation, on the other hand, can cut off “the possibility of new insight by future Bible readers” unless those readers are naive enough to assume that a translation should be the source of those new insights.

I particularly like the examples used. One is Romans 1:5, “the obedience of faith” in which presumably the ESV is doing the better job of conveying the “ambiguity” to English readers. Now quickly, all you English readers who don’t know Greek, tell me the range of meanings that are possible for the Greek genitive. How will you know what that “of” means in Greek? Well, most of you will not. Many of you will get it from a fallible preacher like John Piper (or me, in a much smaller number of cases), instead of getting it from a fallible translation committee. The problem I have here is that the fallible translation committee is probably much less likely to be in error on the matter than is any one preacher. (I use the word “fallible” so frequently because of Piper’s reference to the fallibility of translators. I think we should be aware that teachers, preachers, and of course bloggers are also fallible, and thus if the end user of our theology gets the meaning of the text from us, he is working through more layers of fallibility than if he simply used a dynamic equivalence translation in the first place.)

Now to return to the first article I mentioned, I see there most of the arguments for literal translations rehashed. But in this case there are a couple more things that need to be flagged for serious concern.

He recommends this:

A good thing to do is to purchase an Interlinear and examine a dynamic equivalent with the Greek text (or Hebrew if possible). The ESV has a reverse interlinear that is quite helpful for this. This allows you to see not just how the ESV translators did on the translation but allows you to see what the literal translation is from the Greek text. There is also an NIV edition of this of which I own myself and I believe you will be surprised to see how much of the NIV goes off from the Greek text.

This is a very dangerous paragraph. First, an interlinear will not let you know how far someone has departed from the Greek text, but rather it will tell you how far your translation departs from the interlinear representation (itself a translation) of the Greek text. All you are doing in this case is comparing one translation to another unless you actually know the language. An interlinear is just a translation–only less. It is a very bad translation. But it goes a step further than the literal translation in deception. It makes people feel that they truly are looking at the text in the source language, when they are not. (I’ve discussed interlinears before here.)

I’m going to largely skip over the material on “politically correct” translations. Suffice it to say that none of the translators of the major Bible versions are trying to be politically correct. What they are trying to do, and in the case of the TNIV doing quite successfully, is translating the intent of the Bibles language on gender into similar meanings in English. The whole debate about gender accuracy throws the entire “literal Bible” error into sharp relief.

Like both of the others I’ve quote here, however, I do not want to tell you not to use one English version or another, if it works for you. But I think both authors fail in their effort to do so, because they strongly suggest that you favor a literal version. My suggestion would be that you instead choose a Bible that you can read easily, and then also have one or two other major versions to which to compare it. Most people today are not going to learn the original languages. Piper suggests that ambiguity in the text is cut off by dynamic equivalence translation (which he inaccurately calls “paraphrasing”). A better approach would be to look at more than one clear, natural translation where you can see each rendering in context. Many English readers would never imagine all the possibilities; that’s what translators are for.

Tool: Resurgence Greek

Tool: Resurgence Greek

Via John Simons – Theology, Technology, and Stuff, I discovered the new location for Resurgence Greek ( It’s now being maintained and further developed by Mars Hill Church.

Resurgence Greek is not a general Bible study tool, but rather a specific tool for folks who know some Greek and want to be able to read and research a bit more quickly. It has a simple interface that allows you to perform the major functions that you will need in quickly studying a passage in Greek. You can click on any Greek word to get a very basic (and I emphasize basic) gloss. In that window there is a magnifying glass icon, one of the few graphic features, that you can select in order to highlight all usages of that word.

Selecting pros in John
Regreek Bible showing John 1:1-18 in Greek with the word pros highlighted
John 1:18 and word highlighting
in right column

In the example that I show here (click on the thumbnail for a full size view), I have highlighted the word proc throughout the book of John. Normally you wouldn’t want to do that with a very common word in a large amount of text, but in this case I wanted to see how long it would take. There was a noticeable, but not annoying delay compared to other actions, which shows that the interface here is quite efficient.

The English Bibles available are the NASB, ESV, and KJV. What might be an annoyance in a more general Bible study tool is appropriate here. For those seeking aid in doing a more rapid study of the Greek text, these versions will be very helpful with their word-by-word literalism.

There is a tutorial and also a concordance page, but you can type in the text you want to view using pretty free formats. Adding new text simply adds columns, though you can conveniently remove them as well. In my testing, all results were very quick.

A standard caveat is required on any such tool. Glosses, such as those provided by clicking on words, are not the same thing as understanding the word in the original language and context. Quick checks with parallel English versions are also not the same thing as understanding the text. A little Greek can be dangerous, if you “[do] not yet know as [you] ought to know” (1 Corinthians 8:2). The best corrective is realizing just where you are, and depending on yourself just that far.

Within that caveat, however, this tool will be a welcome one, especially to those who do not have more advanced Biblical languages in their own Bible software.

For developers, this project will be open source, and there is a full page on collaboration on the site.

Crossway ESV Literary Study Bible

Crossway ESV Literary Study Bible

Regular readers of this blog (that imaginary group every blogger hopes he has!) will know that I am not a fan of the [tag]ESV[/tag]. More precisely, I’m not a fan of the hype that surrounds it in certain circles. It’s not a bad translation in my view–it’s just not very special.

Thus I was not immediately attracted to ESV, The Literary Study Bible despite the very attractive title. I think literary study of the Bible is one of the key elements that is lacking in Bible study by many Christians. Besides the specific benefits of the various literary disciplines, simply relating Biblical material to the metanarrative can improve one’s memory, if nothing else. I’m reminding of a lady who was in a study group I led. After about six months she suddenly got an expression of wonder and surprise in the middle of a session and announced, “I finally see it! It’s all connected!”

Adrian Warnock has printed an extract from this Bible (12 Literary Features of the Bible) with the permission of Crossway, and that one section is enough to spark my interest. I will certainly place this on my list to buy and use, and perhaps review here once I’ve had time to enjoy it a bit myself.

I must note that there are some nuances of the 12 features that I would state a bit differently, but without context, it’s hard for me to tell just how far I differ, so I will save my quibbles until after I have actually read and worked with this Bible. As it stands, I welcome a new tool for students of the Bible in English. Anything that directs people to another perspective from which to study will be helpful.

Culture, Translation, and Literal Meaning

Culture, Translation, and Literal Meaning

I just read two excellent articles on Bible translation, one on a blog, and the other coming to me via e-mail. It seems to be very difficult for people to get an idea of just how language works. The notion that each word has a fixed, eternal, precise meaning just seems to hang on. Learning a foreign language will help, as will reading material from earlier in your own language’s history.

The first article is by fellow Moderate Christian Blogroll member Eddie Sue Arthur [I originally credited this article to Eddie, but it is really by Sue. I apologize deeply for miscrediting it] who asks Can you close the door?. It may seem simple enough, but as Sue will demonstrate, it can be somewhat more complicated than that for Bible translators. Not only do words mean different things at different times and in different places, but they also occur in idiomatic expressions in which the word isn’t unit of meaning at all.

Sue’s article is straightforward and simple, and I recommend it to anyone who is struggling to understand why Bible translation cannot be a more absolute and objective process.

The second article came via the Bible Translation Mailing List which presents an article by Kermit Titrud titled Critique of the English Standard Version and “Are Only Some Words of Scripture Breathed Out By God” by Wayne Grudem in Translating Truth: The Case for Essentially Literal Bible Translation. Wheaton, Il.: Crossway Books, 2005. (You have to say that title on one breath or it doesn’t count!)

Update: This article is now also available on the Better Bibles Blog.

This article examines translations in the [tag]ESV[/tag] and in [tag]dynamic equivalence[/tag] translations that are criticized by Wayne Grudem. The fundamental issue is the same. Languages are very different and finding equivalent expressions requires effort and often will not look very much like the form of the original at all.

I strongly recommend both of these articles, and for non-specialists especially the first.

Could You Take Your Pastor?

Could You Take Your Pastor?

I recall an argument in my freshman year in college, in which a fellow-student who was much larger than I was decided to end the debate by saying, “I think I’ll just beat you up!” He could have too. I wouldn’t have stood a chance. So obviously he was right.

Well, I’ve found a second thing today that I would like to say isn’t true, but there it is. Via Locusts and Honey and Ignite I found this article by [tag]Mark Driscoll[/tag]. Now I must confess Driscoll has been dropping lower on my favorite list after his comments on the ESV which I discussed here.

But in the referenced post Driscoll discusses his love of mixed martial arts. Now I’m not going to attack people for the sports they watch. I’m a baseball fan myself, even more so than usual because my stepson John Webb is a pitcher (AAA this year though he has some big league time). I get illustrations for spiritual things from baseball. Sometimes I even get some from football. I don’t generally watch boxing. I’m probably not “manly” enough in Driscoll’s world.

Then he concludes thus:

Because I am a Christian pastor I now need to find something that connects all of this to being a Christian. So, I’ll just say that while young men are watching tough men compete, the reason they don’t go to most churches is because they could take the pastor and can’t respect a guy in a lemon-yellow sweater, sipping decaf and talking about his feelings.

Well, let me suggest something just as blunt: If you determine whether someone is worth listening to based on whether you could take him in a fight, if you despise someone because they wear a lemon-yellow sweater, sip decaf, or talk about their feelings, then you need to seriously reexamine both your intellectual and your spiritual life.


Galatians 3:2: AKOE PISTEOS

Galatians 3:2: AKOE PISTEOS

Or should I make that AKOH PISTEWS? Note that a similar question can be asked in Galatians 3:5, but I will assume due to theme that one will give the same answer in both places.

Writing an exegetical article on this verse could be quite lengthy, but I agree with J. Louis Martyn in his commentary on Galatians when he says:

. . . Paul is not asking the Galatians which of two human acts served as the generative locus in which they received the Spirit, a decision on their part to keep the Law or a decision on their part to hear with faith. On the contrary, he is asking rhetorically whether that generative locus was

  • their act in becoming observant of the Law or
  • God’s message (akoh).

— page 288 [some punctuation/formatting including Greek rather than transliterated text is mine-HN]

The specific translation of akoh pistewj depends on two factors. First, should the word “hearing” be active or passive, in other words is the thing that generates the reception of the Spirit the act of hearing, or the content of what is heard, the message? The second is how does faith relate to the message. Is it a message that is faith, or is it a message that elicits faith? Martyn (op. cit.) Romans 10:16-17, where the message is much more clearly established as that which elicits faith, and the word akoh is also pretty clearly established as passive in intent.

So how do translations compare on this. Here are some examples, showing the variety on these two points:

  • TNIV – Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard. [This agrees with the NIV, which is surprising considering the accusations of Calvinist bias in the NIV translation.]
  • REB – did you receive the Spirit by keeping the law or by believing the gospel message?
  • NLT – Did you receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the law? Of course not, for the Holy Spirit came upon you only after you believed the message you heard about Christ.
  • ESV – Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?
  • CEV – How were you given God’s Spirit? Was it by obeying the Law of Moses or by hearing about Christ and having faith in him?
  • TEV – did you receive God’s Spirit by doing what the Law requires or by hearing the gospel and believing it?

I don’t see any translation that gets quite the nuance that I see in this passage, though perhaps I’m being a bit too tense. In this case, I think the NLT actually has the best translation with the CEV and TEV following very close after.

Of course, it’s hard for translations to get everything right. In this case, however, I think that formal equivalent translations, such as the ESV really leave the English reader hanging, because “hearing of faith” cannot possibly elicit the same semantic ranger as akoh pistews, with unfortunate results.