Re: Hebrews 11:1

From: Steve Long (
Date: Mon May 10 1999 - 10:57:54 EDT

>Thank-you Carl. This little passage really does practically require
>paraphrasing. I offer a more literal rendition that seems to keep the
>context of Hebrews, rather than offering the broad brush that most versions
>want to give it as a description of faith per se.
>"Of events foretold, faith is the basis if their being hoped for, the
>uncovering of their not being seen."
>OR ~ Embedding PRAGMATWN ~
>"Faith is the basis of events foretold being hoped for, the uncovering of
>their not being seen."
>The first is clearer, because it clearly does not assert that faith is the
>basis of [God's] events, but instead is the basis of their being hoped for
>and expected. As well, faith is what uncovers their not being seen.
>[Partitive genitive]
>Neither has the poetic beauty of the KJV ~ Or the elegance of the Greek. I
>would hope that both have precision of rendering the Greek text insofar as
>it is possible to do so in English.
>Thanks again, Carl ~ I'm ready to put this one to bed! It has been a


I wonder if most of trouble with rendering a Greek chiasm/parallelism into
English is we try to use a Greek poetic form on an English sentence
structure. Wouldn't it be better English (and translation) to use an
English poetic structure. That way the reader understands that this is
written in a different format than ordinary prose and he can appreciate
some of the beauty of the poetic thought (if not the exact structure).

Faith is the assurance and proof of reality
  for which we hope, yet cannot see.

You see I have not replicated the parallelism but I folded it back on
itself and intertwined it to preserve the chiasm. I am reminded of the
USAToday ad on television, "an economy of words, a wealth of information".
The translators of the KJV were masters of understatement which is why that
translation continues in popularity.

After removing the parallelism I really believe that surety or assurance is
intended for hUPOSTASIS rather that substance, if we have faith in God, our
faith is not His substance (that would be the most arrogant kind of
existentialism), so I must choose assurance because it is parallel to proof
just as hope is parallel to unseen.

I don't believe PRAGMATWN can be translated as actions or events, it
removes too much passive nature of PRAGMATWN. It sounds as if you're
reading it as PRAXEIS. Matters, facts, truths, realities, stuff, things,
but not actions, these things exist before we hope, the assurance in our
heart is all the proof we need that they do indeed exist. I do not believe
that this passage is refering in any way to "foretold events", I don't see
how you can read that here.


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