Romans 5:7 For one would hardly die for a righteous δικαιος (dikaios; righteous, upright, lawful, or just) man; though perhaps for the good αγαθος (agathos) man someone would dare even to die.One of the most popular examples of evidence for an Aramaic original is the Peshitta reading of this verse (here's a discussion from the Aramaic New Testament blog):
Romans 5:7 Nor one would hardly die for a wicked רשעיא man; though perhaps for a good טבא (tâbâ’; good) man someone would dare even to die.The Peshitta makes much more sense to me, especially when read in context:
6 For while we were yet weak, at the right time the Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a wicked man. Yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God commends his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.The blog argues that the error crept in by a misreading of reshe-ya (wicked) as reshnaya (righteous). At first glance this is an appealing solution because the difference is based on a single misreading of a Nun for an Ayin. But there is a big problem with this suggestion. I have not been able to find any example of reshnaya (righteous) anywhere in the Peshitta, and every instance of dikiaos (righteous) corresponds to the Aramaic tzadiq. This means that the suggestion of misreading reshe-ya as reshnaya fails on two fundamental points: it is not used anywhere in the Peshitta, and dikaios always corresponds to tzadiq.
There is another solution that seems much more likely to be true. The difference between righteous (dikiaos) and unrighteous (adikaios) rests upon a single letter in the Greek. We have a perfect solution to the problem if we assume that the letter alpha has been dropped from the Greek text.
Romans 5:7 For one would hardly die for an unrighteous αδικαιος (adikaios; unrighteous) man; though perhaps for the good αγαθος (agathos) man someone would dare even to die.I like this solution for two reasons. 1) It is a simple and believable explanation. 2) There is an aliteralism between adikaios and agathos. But there is a fundamental problem with this solution too. As far as I know, there is not a single Greek text that has any textual variation of this verse! If every manuscript has "dikaios" then it is pretty hard to argue that it is an error under any scenario. It is particularly difficult to imagine that it is a misreading of the Aramaic original because that would mean that every translation into Greek made the same error! Highly unlikely indeed.
It seems therefore that dikaios is the original reading. The odd ring of the statement that "one would hardly die for a righteous man" doe not necessarily mean the text is wrong. It could be that we just don't understand what it would have meant to the first century audience. On the other hand, I am drawn to the idea that Paul intended an alpha that he (or his scibe) simply failed to transcribe and that the correct original reading would have been adikaios. Perhaps the alpha in the original autograph got smudged so that all copies are flawed.