Tuesday, December 29, 2015
7:55 am pst
The Wages of Sin...
Anybody who has ever met an evangelical
Christian or read a church marquee or seen the guy wearing the multi-coloured Afro wig holding up a sign at major sporting
events knows the quote from the Book of Romans in the New Testament: “The wages of sin is death....” (6:23)
I’m not doubting that the wages of sin are death, but as that is worded, it’s just bad grammar.
“Wages” is the subject of the sentence, and the verb is conjugated by the subject, not the subject’s modifiers,
in this case “of sin.” The wages...are....
And here’s the thing: That phrase wasn’t written in English to begin
with. More than likely, it was written in Latin, and Latin has very strict rules on conjugation. So there really
is no argument that we’re messing with the word of God. We’ve just canonized bad grammar. Simply put,
when it was translated into English, it was translated incorrectly, at least in the King James Version, the Cokesbury
Version, the New American Standard Bible, the Gideons’ version (in both English and
Spanish), and who knows how many countless others. But not in the Oxford Study Edition of the New English Bible.
They translate that particular passage as: “For sin pays a wage, and the wage is death...” which is grammatically
correct, and it means the same thing.
But what if it didn’t mean the same thing? Even if we’re not supposed to question
the word of God, it’s probably not a bad idea to question the men and women who have translated God’s words.
Now go forth, and use bad grammar no more.