[b-greek] Re: pistis + noun(genitive)

From: Iver Larsen (alice-iver_larsen@wycliffe.org)
Date: Sat Feb 24 2001 - 04:37:03 EST

> - From Greek usage in general I think we can only say that PISTIS can
> - mean both "faith" and "faithfulness". The two concepts are grouped
> - together in one semantic unit, and it is only because English does not
> - group these two concepts together in one word than we tend to think
> - about them as distinct semantic units rather than different aspects of
> - the same unit.
> I understand what you're saying, though I'm having a little difficult
> translating (I hope that's not an awful pun). I am not by any means a
> Greek scholar, but it has occurred to me that faith/faithfulness are far
> more intricately related in Greek than in English. But are you suggesting
> that the concepts are the same, or simply less rigorously defined? In
> other words, are faith and faithfulness synonymous in Greek?

No, I am not suggesting that they are synonymous. May I explain myself with the
parable of the rubber bands?
The meaning of a word can be likened to the area covered by a rubber band. Some
rubber bands have a small diameter, others a big one. In Greek, what we
understand as "faith" and "faithfulness" is contained within one fairly large
rubber band. In English "faith" is one rubber band and "faithfulness" is
another. They are smaller bands and together they cover an area of meaning
roughly equivalent to PISTIS. Two words are synonyms if there rubber bands are
of about the same diameter and if they overlap one another to a large extent.
That means, in most contexts, you could use one rubber or the other and you
would get pretty much the same meaning.
In translation work, we are going from one set of rubber bans to another set.
They don't fit exactly. In some context, one would need to use the "faith" band
for PISTIS, in other contexts, one would need to use the "faithfulness" band. It
would be easier to draw this on a blackboard. One area of the big PISTIS band
corresponds to "faith" and another within the same PISTIS band corresponds to

> - various contexts. I also disagree with Hayes' claim that the
> - construction is objective in Galatians. It is ruled out by the
> I may be using the words "objective" and "subjective" improperly. I was
> under the impression that the objective genetive implies that Jesus Christ
> is the object of the faith in Gal. 2:16 (this is how Marshall describes
> it), whereas the subjective genetive would imply that he is the source of
> the faith[fulness?].

I certainly was using "objective" improperly by saying the opposite of what I
meant. Sorry. My understanding of the two Galatians passages is that the
genitives here are objective. In other words, Paul is talking in Galatians about
having faith in Christ, not the faithfulness of Christ.

Iver Larsen

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