I’ve searched the archives and can’t find that this verse has been discussed before. So let’s give it a spin…
|Look, the one whose desires are not upright will faint from exhaustion, 1 but the person of integrity 2 will live 3 because of his faithfulness. 4|
John Hobbins did a series last year on Habakkuk and I’ve enjoyed reading all those posts again. His take on this verse is found here: Habakkuk 2:4
I’ve assumed that when Paul quoted this verse that 1. it was well known to his readers and 2. that he was playing with the traditional interpretation. He and his readers presumed that this verse was an affirmation of the Jewish idea of righteousness leading to blessing or salvation. And Paul in Galatians 3:11 and later in Romans 1:17 uses that verse as a springboard for his concept of righteousness coming not from ourselves but from God. Phew, I can feel the centuries weighing on my shoulders. And libraries of books written by theologians far wiser and devout than I’ll ever be. So maybe I’ll cut to my exercise:
1. Pick a version of the Bible
2. Show the renderings of Habakkuk 2:4 and Galatians 3:11.
3. Why do you think the translators might have chosen these renderings?
4. How might you render both these verses if you were publishing a version of the Bible?
I will start things off with the Bible our family uses, the Contemporary English Version.
1. The CEV
“I, the Lord, refuse to accept
anyone who is proud.
Only those who live by faith
are acceptable to me.”*
Footnote: 2.4 Only … me: Or “But those who are acceptable to me will live because of their faithfulness.”
No one can please God by obeying the Law. The Scriptures also say, “The people God accepts because of their faith will live.”*
Footnote 3.11 The people God accepts because of their faith will live: Or “The people God accepts will live because of their faith.”
3. The translation is clear and idiomatic which are high values for the CEV. The footnote for Hab. 2:4 shows that they were open to the other reading of this verse.
4. I might like a rendering that is more in keeping with the wider passage, i.e. that those who are wicked will be punished but those who are “faithful,” i.e. righteous will be spared.
OK, now it’s your turn.