Re: Mark 11:22 God's faith or faith in God?

From: Eric Weiss (
Date: Thu Feb 20 1997 - 11:02:55 EST

> wrote:
> Mark 11:22 has the phrase, "Have faith in God" -- K21. Other translations
> read,"Have the faith of God. Those are the two most common renderings.
> However, I have heard that the Greek should really read, "Have the God kind
> of faith" or "Have the faith of God".

> Not being a Greek scholar, what do you have to say about this (putting your
> own theology aside, please)?

> Below, I listed four translations that read that way or similiar...

> Have God's faith -- The Bible in Basic English

> Have the kind of trust that comes from God -- The Jewish New Testament

> Have God's faith -- Numeric English New Testament

> Take hold on God's faithfulness -- Montgomery New Testament

> James Slayton

The Greek reads: ECETE PISTIN QEOU - HAVE [2nd person plural present
imperative, i.e., "(you) have" or "you be having"] FAITH (or
"faithfulness") [feminine accusative singular] OF-GOD [masculine
genitive singular]. The main questions translators have to decide are:
1) what kind of genitive is QEOU - i.e., "faith in God," "God's faith,"
"God-like faith" - some grammarians identify 30 or more different usages
of the genitive case, but probably only a few would fit the context of
this phrase, i.e., objective, subjective, attributive; 2) how to
translated PISTIN - i.e., "faith/trust" or "faithfulness"; 3) the
significance of the present imperative ECETE - "have" or "be
(continually) having."

There have been lengthy discussions on this list in the past on the
phrase "faith/faithfulness of/in Jesus Christ," etc., which is a similar
construction. Maybe someone saved the posts and can forward them to you,
or check the archives for verses where this (or a similar) phrase
appears, e.g., Galatians 2:16, 2:20. You'll see that the issue is far
from settled. Personally on Mark 11:22, I'd rule out "Have God's faith"
because I don't think God has faith - unless the translator means by
this "Have the faith that comes from God."

If you could tackle a little Greek, you'd find lots of good material out
there discussing the genitive case - look at Dan Wallace BEYOND THE
BASICS and Richard Young INTERMEDIATE GREEK GRAMMAR for two recent works
at the intermediate grammar level that discuss these issues. How to
translate "faith of/in Jesus Christ" was one of the things that got me
interested enough in answering these questions for myself to finally
learn Biblical Greek. If you do learn Greek, you may be dismayed to find
how simplistic and sometimes erroneous much of the popular/layman's
material (as well as some preachers' sermons) is on these issues, i.e.,
making statements (probably based on reading an interlinear and a
Strong's Concordance or Vine's Dictionary, or even a Greek lexicon, but
not considering context and all the relevant grammatical questions) like
you quoted, i.e., that the Greek should really read, "Have the God kind
of faith" or "Have the faith of God." I have learned through making the
same mistake at times to be wary when someone says "The Greek (or
Hebrew) really should say..." It's often not that simple.

Maybe this response will prompt you to want to learn Greek - it's not
easy, but it's worth it!

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