Re: Hebrews 11:1

From: George Blaisdell (
Date: Fri May 07 1999 - 13:40:36 EDT

<x-flowed>Hi Kevin ~

You have me suffering from what I am now referring to as "11:1 fixation"!!

>From: "Kevin L. Barney

>I have several questions regarding Hebrews 11:1, which reads as follows:


You can see that I rearranged in diagrammatic form the text... [My previous
response doing this has not shown up on b-greek yet.]

>1. One generally sees HUPOSTASIS and ELEGXOS translated with a definite
>article in English, but they lack such in Greek. I realize that Greek and
>English sometimes use the article in different ways. But wouldn't it be
>possible to render these words without the article, as in

>"Now faith is of things hoped for a confident assurance, a conviction of
>things not seen"?

I sure don't see any problem with this approach. It seems to work either
way, so my preference is with the English article because of the formulaic
[chiastic] nature of the 'definition'.

>2. Does PRAGMATWN belong with ELPIZOMENWN, BLEPOMENWN, or both? >Could it
>possibly have a stronger force than "things" here; maybe something like

By case endings it belongs with both, and its centering between them as well
argues for its 'distribution' to both, as does the chiastic grammatical
structure of the whole.

I started it out using the gloss "matters" for PRAGMATWN ~ The trick is to
come up with an English word that includes the idea of 'pragmatic'.
'Undertakings' seems close... The idea that faith is of those things that
are practical and done by people seems essential, more so than 'realities',
which loses this focus. "Actions" seems perhaps best...

>3. My main question is whether HUPOSTASIS should be taken as "substance"
>or "assurance" here.

I share your amazement at the broad range of usages and renderings of this
word. And Carl's treatment of it seems right on target. I started with the
gloss 'basis', but finally have come to prefer 'foundation', meaning that
which stands under and supports something, as per its lexical roots.

>So does HUPOSTASIS in Hebrews 11:1 mean substance,
>real nature, essence, as in the KJV, or the foundation
>or ground of hope, confidence, assurance, as in the
>RSV? I was amazed at the difference of opinion on this question that I

>Any thoughts on this? Am I missing any evidence that is relevant to the

Because of the chiastic formulation, this definition can and should be
understood 3 ways simultaneously:

1] As it is written. [a - b - c - b' - a']
2] a - a' - b - b' - c
3] c - b - b' - a - a'

So how to translate?? [in order!]

1] "Faith is of [things] hoped for, [the] foundation of [their]
undertakings, a demonstration of [things] unseen."

2] "Faith is of things hoped for [yet] not seen, [their] foundation [and]
demonstration, from [our] actions."

3] "Faith is of actions [their] foundation [and] demonstration of [their]
being hoped for [yet] unseen.

All three suffer greatly... Hence my 11:1 obsession!

So in English, here is a try:

"Faith is of actions the foundation of what is hoped for, and the evidence
of what is not seen." [c - b - a - b' - a']

[I have to chuckle at what a Greek would have to think if this were written
in this word order in the Koine! He would be scrambling for his syntactical
socks as frantically as I am!! Back-translation is a brutal test!]

This one still needs some time to simmer on the back burner... I have this
nagging idea that there is as well a cause and effect going on here, whereby
the evidence arises as a consequence in some way...?

George Blaisdell
Roslyn, WA

Get Free Email and Do More On The Web. Visit

B-Greek home page:
You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: []
To unsubscribe, forward this message to
To subscribe, send a message to


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:40:27 EDT