πίστις Χριστοῦ (faith of Christ) survey question

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
gryan
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πίστις Χριστοῦ (faith of Christ) survey question

Post by gryan »

Survey question: Which side of the πίστις Χριστοῦ (faith of Christ) debate are you on?
Click here to take a poll (and/or comment below):

https://take.quiz-maker.com/poll4476192xdBB0D3b6-140

At the grammatical level, the essence of the problem is whether the phrase πίστις Χριστοῦ is:

1. subjective, referring to a personal attribute or action of Christ (“the faith, or faithfulness, of Christ”)
or
2. objective, referring to the profession and orientation of “faith in Christ”, by which an individual can be identified as ‘saved’

There are eight occurrences of the phrase in Paul’s “genuine” epistles:

διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (“through faith[/fulness] in [/of] Jesus Christ”; Rom 3.22);
ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ (“by faith[/fulness] in [/of] Jesus”; Rom 3.26);
διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (“through faith[/fulness] in [/of] Jesus Christ”; Gal 2.16a);
ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ (“by faith[/fulness] in [/of] Jesus”; Gal 2.16b);
ἐν πίστει … τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ (“by faith[/fulness] in [/of] the Son of God”; Gal 2.20);
ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (“by faith[/fulness] in [/of] Jesus Christ”; Gal 3.22);
διὰ τῆς πίστεως Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ (“through faith[/fulness] in [/of] Christ Jesus”; Gal 3.26, only in manuscript P46);
διὰ πίστεως Χριστοῦ (“through faith[/fulness] in [/of] Christ”; Phil 3.9).
also: Eph 3.12; 4.13

https://ntwrong.wordpress.com/2008/12/1 ... -genitive/

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I'm on the subjective genitive side of the debate: πίστις Χριστοῦ refers to Christ's faith or faithfulness.

Which side are you on? Subjective (faith of Christ), or objective (faith in Christ)?
Last edited by gryan on Sat Sep 17, 2022 1:19 am, edited 2 times in total.
gryan
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Re: πίστις Χριστοῦ (faith of Christ) survey question

Post by gryan »

Neil Godfrey reviewed Matthew V. Novenson's, (Christ Among the Messiahs, 2012) excellent argument in favor of the faithfulness of Christ reading in the block of text quoted below:

"[The Septuagint] has passed on a verbal association between the roots πίστις [pistis/faith] and χριστός [christ], an association susceptible of reuse by later readers of the Greek scriptures. (p. 133)

And the passages in question refer to “the anointed” clearly as a Davidic-messianic figure. While the specific Septuagint passages are not quoted by Paul, a nearby passage is [2 Kings 22:50 / 2 Samuel 22:50] suggesting the possibility that Paul was aware of them.

In that scriptural context χριστός is specifically Davidic, and πίστις has the sense of “faithful.” If Paul’s usage reflects familiarity with this language, then it tends to lend some additional weight to the suggestion that πίστις χριστοῦ be read as “the faithfulness of the [Davidic-like] messiah.“ (p. 133, my bolding and parenthetical addition)

Here are the passages in the LXX:

2 Kings/Samuel 23:1

And these are the last words of David.

Faithful is David the son of Jessae, and faithful the man whom the Lord raised up to be the anointed of the God of Jacob, and beautiful are the psalms of Israel.

και ουτοι οι λογοι δαυιδ οι εσχατο

πιστος δαυιδ υιος ιεσσαι και πιστος ανηρ ον ανεστησεν κυριος επι χριστον θεου ιακωβ και ευπρεπεις ψαλμοι ισραηλ

Compare an earlier passage where the anointed one is Saul though the knowledge of David being the messiah-designate is never lost:

1 Kings 26:23/1 Samuel 26:23

And the Lord shall recompense each according to his righteousness and his faithfulness, since the Lord delivered thee this day into my hands, and I would not lift my hand against the Lord’s anointed.

και κυριος επιστρεψει εκαστω τας δικαιοσυνας αυτου και την πιστιν αυτου ως παρεδωκεν σε κυριος σημερον εις χειρας μου και ουκ ηθελησα επενεγκειν χειρα μου επι χριστον κυριου

Compare 1 Kings 2:35

And I will raise up to myself a faithful priest, who shall do all that is in my heart and in my soul; and I will build him a faithful house, and he shall walk before my Christ for ever.

και αναστησω εμαυτω ιερεα πιστον ος παντα τα εν τη καρδια μου και τα εν τη ψυχη μου ποιησει και οικοδομησω αυτω οικον πιστον και διελευσεται ενωπιον χριστου μου πασας τας ημερας"

https://vridar.org/2012/07/08/christ-am ... hs-part-4/

-------------

I'm on the subjective genitive side of the debate: πίστις Χριστοῦ refers to Christ's faith or faithfulness.

Which side are you on? Subjective (faith of Christ), or objective (faith in Christ)?
Last edited by gryan on Sat Sep 17, 2022 1:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
Ken Olson
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Re: πίστις Χριστοῦ (faith of Christ) survey question

Post by Ken Olson »

gryan,

You could make a real poll with poll-maker.com and link it to the thread.

https://www.poll-maker.com/

I'm not sure there's a whole lot of interest in the topic or understanding of what's at stake in the issue on this forum though.

Best,

Ken
gryan
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Re: πίστις Χριστοῦ (faith of Christ) survey question

Post by gryan »

Ken Olson wrote: Fri Sep 16, 2022 6:11 pm
You could make a real poll with poll-maker.com and link it to the thread.

https://www.poll-maker.com/


Ken,

Thanks, I was wondering how to do that. There is now a poll-taker at the heading of the OP.

Early lack of response to my question suggests that you are correct that not many participants on his forum will care to answer.

Given that you have studied and taught at Duke (home of my heroes in the πίστις Χριστοῦ debate, Richard Hays and Doug Campbell) I'm dying to know which side of this debate you are on, and what you think is at stake.

Greg
gryan
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Re: πίστις Χριστοῦ (faith of Christ) survey question

Post by gryan »

"Nowhere do we find the πίστις Χριστοῦ (faith of Christ) survey question formulation understood subjectively by the early Fathers"
---Roy A. Harrisville, III (ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ: Witness of the Fathers)

There are examples of early Fathers unambiguously reading Abraham's faith in Rom 4:6 as a subjective genitive:

Rom 4:6
"Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring--not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham (τῷ ἐκ πίστεως Ἀβραάμ). He is the father of us all."

But not so with πίστις Χριστοῦ.

See, ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ: Witness of the Fathers by Roy A. Harrisville, III Novum Testamentum (Jul., 1994)

There was an exception to this pattern identified:
The Faithfulness of Jesus Christ in Hippolytus's De Christo et Antichristo: Overlooked Patristic Evidence in the Πίστις Χριστοῦ Debate (Cambridge University Press: 28 August 2009), by Michael F. Bird and Michael R. Whitenton

However, these findings have been disproved text critical and interpretive grounds:
ArticlePDF Available
Πίστις and Christ in Hippolytus's De Christo et Antichristo: A Response to Michael F. Bird and Michael R. Whitenton (October 2011New Testament Studies).

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In respect to Πίστις Χριστοῦ, all the ancient Fathers misread Paul! I suppose this is because of the rise of "creedal faith" and the belief in God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Fathers misread Paul's Πίστις Χριστοῦ because they believed Jesus was God, and they believed in Jesus like they believed in God, i.e. as an objective focus of their belief statements.
schillingklaus
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Re: πίστις Χριστοῦ (faith of Christ) survey question

Post by schillingklaus »

No, they have not misread Paul as they have forged and faked him deliberately from thin air.
perseusomega9
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Re: πίστις Χριστοῦ (faith of Christ) survey question

Post by perseusomega9 »

Ken Olson wrote: Fri Sep 16, 2022 6:11 pm
I'm not sure there's a whole lot of interest in the topic or understanding of what's at stake in the issue on this forum though.

From gryan's link "The book was originally submitted to the Very Short Introductions series as Pistis Christou: A Very Short Introduction. However, after its unconditional and, frankly, unkind rejection from OUP (“We believe the topic could only possibly be of interest to a half dozen or so people who obviously don’t get out enough”)"
gryan
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Re: πίστις Χριστοῦ (faith of Christ) survey question

Post by gryan »

Re: The book proposal, "Pistis Christou: A Very Short Introduction"
https://ntwrong.wordpress.com/2008/12/1 ... -genitive/

From the published titles, it is clear to me that most books in the A Very Short Introduction series are likely to attract more readers. Also, this proposed book takes an opposing side (and, arguably, the losing side) in this little known debate (That is, little known, except among scholars who study the New Testament, all of whom are, I suppose, pretty much required to know about it).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Very_Short_Introductions
gryan
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Re: πίστις Χριστοῦ (faith of Christ) survey question

Post by gryan »

schillingklaus wrote: Sat Sep 17, 2022 6:01 am No, they have not misread Paul as they have forged and faked him deliberately from thin air.
@schillingklaus

You point to the key issue: To admit that the "Fathers" (together with their rival, Marcion) misread Galatians, Romans and Philippians, is to suggest that they didn't produce the documents.
Ken Olson
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Re: πίστις Χριστοῦ (faith of Christ) survey question

Post by Ken Olson »

gryan wrote: Sat Sep 17, 2022 1:12 am Given that you have studied and taught at Duke (home of my heroes in the πίστις Χριστοῦ debate, Richard Hays and Doug Campbell) I'm dying to know which side of this debate you are on, and what you think is at stake.
gryan,

I lean toward the subjective genitive advocated by Richard Hays (and Douglas Campbell, Luke Timothy Johnson, and the late J. Louis Martyn among others), but I don't think the debate is settled yet.

My introduction to the debate was the two essays in the Appendix of the second edition of Richard Hays, The Faith of Jesus Christ (2002):

James D.G. Dunn, Once More, ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ (249-271)

Richard B. Hays, Πίστις and Pauline Christology (272-297)

I thought Hays' essay was much stronger than Dunn's. Hays offered a plausible explanation, against the traditional reading 'faith in Christ', of why the term Pistis Christou, could be read as 'faith' (or) "faithfulness' 'of Christ" and that this fits Paul's broader narrative of how the salvation of human being is accomplished. It seemed to me that Dunn did not quite manage to get his head around the alternative reading Hays was proposing and just dismissed it because he already knew that it meant 'faith in Christ". That said, this does not necessarily mean that Hays is right, only that he's been fortunate in his choice of opponents.

This has been my big problem with most of the responses I've seen to the 'faithfulness of Jesus Christ' reading. Those opposing it are so used to understanding it as 'faith in Christ' that they don't seem to grasp how any sensible person could think otherwise and can't really engage with the opposing position effectively. I'd like to see someone try to answer Hays (and the others who advocate the subjective genitive) start by laying out Hays' position sympathetically and then explaining why the 'faith in Christ' reading is better. (If anyone knows of such a treatment, please post a citation).

As to what's at stake, it's a question of how Paul conceives of the mechanism of salvation working. Both the idea of Christ's faithfulness and the Christian's faith in Christ can be found in the New Testament. To oversimplify Hays' argument a good bit, he's saying that it is not just left up to the individual to place his faith in Christ (which makes faith another sort of work that the person has to do to achieve salvation), it's that Jesus has accomplished the salvation of humankind through his faithfulness unto death - that's what saves people. The mechanism by which people participate in this faithfulness is baptism - the baptized have died and risen with Christ (Hays' theory presumes E. P. Sanders' theory of participation in Christ through baptism).

There's a reasonably even-handed treatment of the issue in:

Matthew Easter, The Pistis Christou Debate: Main Arguments and Responses in Summary, Currents in Biblical research 9.1 (2010) 22-47.

Abstract

The πíστiς Xρiστoȗ (pistis Christou) debate continues to be a lively point of scholarly interest. While a vast amount of literature appears on the subject, interpreters often repeat a few main arguments in support of their position. This essay discusses the main exegetical arguments for the two major sides in the pistis Christou debate and how others have responded to the arguments. Arguments for the objective genitive are treated first, followed by those for the subjective genitive. The essay closes with a discussion of the way interpreters have relied on their prior understanding of the larger concept of Paul’s theology as the decisive argument for their position. As such, the essay finds that this larger hermeneutical question of the nature of Paul’s gospel is the true locus of the pistis Christou debate.

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.117 ... 3X09360725

(Unfortunately, I'm not aware of anyplace the article is freely available online).

Best,

Ken
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