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02.5.5

“. . . in your faith . . .”  2 Pet 1:5b.

 

Note:  [Brackets will be used to insert my 'translations' into otherwise literal quotations.  This is done to provide clarity for the average reader unfamiliar with Greek.  This may also be done in a variety of situations for general comments.]

 

Exegesis of Faith

 

The Scriptural text our theory is based on begins in 2 Pet 1:5b with the clause ". . . in your faith supply . . ."

 

The Greek word that is translated in 2 Pet 1:5b as 'faith' is πίστις/pistis.  This is the common New Testament word for faith.  Bultmann (Kittle, Vol. VI, page 176, line 19) describes pistis as:  "πίστις [faith] means a. (abstr.) 'confidence,' 'trust,'".  This definition was derived from an analysis of Classical Greek usage.  The common man-on-the-street in ancient Greece would have understood pistis in this way.  Personally, I rather like Williams' (1905, p. 35, l. 12;  PDF p. 511) take on it:  "Faith, in its widest sense, is trust or belief;  confidence in the word, character, or work of another."

 

Weiser (p. 186, l. 22), analyzing Faith from an OT viewpoint, comes to a different, more complex understanding.  Key to the Hebrew understanding is seeing Faith as appearing within one's relationship with God.  Within that relationship Faith is seen to be composed of three elements:  1) one becomes aware of what is being said, 2) one confirms that what was said was true, and 3) one becomes totally involved in relationship with what was being said.  Thus, in the Hebrew understanding, within our relationship with God, Faith is composed of the union of:  one's awareness, confirmation, and total commitment to God.  For the Hebrew, when Faith is discussed, ALL of these elements are assumed to be lived realities within that Faith.  Faith "denotes a relation to God which embraces the whole man in the totality of his external conduct and inner life."  (188, 30)

 

Recall that the Classical Greek understanding of Faith was relatively simple.  One trusted or believed another, or one didn't.  The word Pistis was rather straight and to the point.  On the other hand, speaking in Hebrew involved concepts that were much more complicated and nuanced.  It was a language given to casting ideas within the lived experience of the people speaking.  Thus, similar concepts, communicated in the different languages, may cover similar basic issues, but the Hebrew tended to encompass a more extended meaning.  (197, 9)

 

This author saw the Apostles confronted by a linguistic dilemma.  Having been raised as Hebrews, having lived in Hebrew communities, and thinking religiously using Hebrew concepts, the Apostles were trying to communicate Hebrew ways of understanding the world (205, 28).  Yet, these ideas were cast into Greek for a largely Greek-speaking church, made up of mostly Gentile converts.  It is this author's impression that the Apostles used the Greek word pistis, knowing it would carry a restricted understanding of faith for most listeners, and joined that word to other descriptors of Hebrew faith, so that the combined impact would approximate a Hebrew understanding of what Faith would be.  An extensive analysis of Bultmann's list of 'other descriptors' was seen to produce combinations with Faith that would result in just such an understanding, and more.

 

This page revised and Copyrighted: Theon Doxazo

14 December, 2023