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Another look at πίστις Χριστοῦ

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 January 2016

Morna D. Hooker*
Affiliation:
Robinson College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB3 9ANmdh1000@cam.ac.uk

Abstract

The debate regarding the meaning of πίστις Χριστοῦ in the Pauline epistles continues and is important because of its implications for theology. In the phrase there is a double ambiguity, which touches not only the significance of the genitive, but also the meaning of πίστις. A brief look at some key texts in Romans suggests that the phrase refers primarily to the faith/faithfulness of Christ, but that this is also something shared by those who are ‘in Christ’. Through Christ God has done what the law could not do, enabling men and women to become his children, and so share not only in Christ's faith but in what he is. The phrase thus represents the ‘delicate balance between human behaviour and divine grace’ that characterises Paul's soteriology.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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References

1 Hooker, Morna D., ‘Πίστις Χριστοῦ’, New Testament Studies 35 (1989), p. 321CrossRefGoogle Scholar; reprinted in From Adam to Christ (Cambridge: CUP, 1990), pp. 165–86.

2 Moulton, James Hope, Prolegomena, vol. 1 of A Grammar of New Testament Greek (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1908), p. 72Google Scholar.

3 Hunn, Debbie, ‘Debating the Faithfulness of Jesus Christ in Twentieth-Century Scholarship’, in Bird, Michael F. and Sprinkle, Preston M. (eds), The Faith of Jesus Christ: Exegetical, Biblical, and Theological Studies (Milton Keynes: Paternoster/Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2009), p. 26Google Scholar.

4 Cranfield, C. E. B., The Epistle to the Romans, vol. 1, ICC Commentary (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1975), p. 203Google Scholar.

5 Cranfield, C. E. B., ‘On the Πίστις Χριστοῦ Question’, in On Romans and Other New Testament Essays (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1998), pp. 8197Google Scholar.

6 Benjamin Myters, ‘From Faithfulness to Faith in the Theology of Karl Barth’, in Bird and Sprinkle, Faith of Jesus Christ, p. 291.

7 Hays, Richard B., The Faith of Jesus Christ: An Investigation of the Narrative Substructure of Galatians 3:1–4:11, SBL Dissertation Series 56 (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1983)Google Scholar.

8 Published as an appendix to The Faith of Jesus Christ: An Investigation of the Narrative Substructure of Galatians 3:1–4:11, 2nd edn (Grand Rapids, MI/Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans, 2002), pp. 272–97.

9 Nigel Turner, Syntax, vol. 3 of Moulton, James Hope, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1963), p. 210Google Scholar. Cf. also Blass, F. and Debrunner, A., A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, trans. Robert W. Funk (Cambridge: CUP; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), §163Google Scholar.

10 Wallis, Ian G., The Faith of Christ in Early Christian Traditions, SNTSMS 84 (Cambridge: CUP, 1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, finds evidence that several of the fathers interpreted Paul as teaching that believers share the faith of Christ. Harrisville III, Roy A., ‘ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ: Witness of the Fathers’, Novum Testamentum 36 (1994), pp. 233–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar, and Mark W. Elliott, ‘Πίστις Χριστοῦ in the Church Fathers and Beyond’, in Bird and Sprinkle, Faith of Jesus Christ, pp. 277–89, both argue the opposite.

11 R. Barry Matlock, ‘Saving Faith: The Rhetoric and Semantics of πίστις in Paul’, in Bird and Sprinkle, Faith of Jesus Christ, p. 87.

12 Athanasius, Orationes contra Arianos 2.6.9.

13 Augustine, De spiritu et littera 9 (CSEL 60, 167); St Augustine: On the Spirit and the Letter, trans. W. J. Sparrow Simpson (London: SPCK, 1925), §15.

14 Aquinas, Summa Theologiae 3a, q.7, a.3.

15 Janzen, J. Gerald, ‘Coleridge and Pistis Christou’, Expository Times 107 (1996), pp. 265–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

16 Ibid., p. 268.

17 Ibid., p. 266.

18 Haussleiter, J., Der Glaube Jesu Christi und der christliche Glaube: Ein Beitrag zur Eklärung des Römerbriefes (Erlangen: Deichert, 1891)Google Scholar.

19 Kittel, G., ‘Πίστις Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ bei Paulus’, TSK 79 (1906), pp. 419–36Google Scholar; NZK 2 (1891). (I have been unable to view this personally.)

20 Deissmann, Adolf, Paul: A Study in Social and Religious History (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1926Google Scholar; English trans. of 2nd German edn), pp. 162–3.

21 Contrast Kittel, ‘Πίστις Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ’, 426.

22 Deissmann, Paul, p. 262.

23 Herbert, A. G., ‘“Faithfulness” and “Faith”’, Theology 58 (1955), pp. 373–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

24 Torrance, T. F., ‘One Aspect of the Biblical Conception of Faith’, Expository Times 68 (1957), pp. 111–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

25 Barth, Karl, The Epistle to the Romans, trans. E. C. Hoskyns (Oxford: OUP, 1933)Google Scholar, in loc.

26 Barr, James, The Semantics of Biblical Language (Oxford: OUP, 1961), pp. 161205Google Scholar.

27 ‘The Biblical Conception of “Faith”’, Expository Times 68 (1957), p. 157.

28 Valloton, P., Le Christ et la foi: Etude de théologie biblique (Geneva: Labor & Fides, 1961)Google Scholar.

29 Howard, George F., ‘The “Faith of Christ”’, Expository Times 85 (1973), pp. 212–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar; ‘Faith of Christ, Anchor Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 2, pp. 758–60.

30 Johnson, Luke Timothy, ‘Romans 3:21–26 and the Faith of Jesus’, Catholic Biblical Quarterly 44 (1982), pp. 7790Google Scholar.

31 See note 7 above.

32 See note 3 above.

33 Hooker, Πίστις Χριστοῦ, pp. 334–5, reprinted in From Adam to Christ, pp. 117–18.

34 See e.g. Cranfield, Romans, I, pp. 66–7.

35 Rom. 15:18. See also 16:26, which uses the phrase ‘the obedience of faith’, though the final three verses may be a later addition to the letter.

36 Most recently Campbell, Douglas A., ‘An Echo of Scripture in Paul and its Implications’, in Wagner, J. Ross, Rowe, C. Kavin and Grieb, A. Katherine (eds), The Word Leaps the Gap: Essays on Scripture and Theology in Honor of Richard B. Hays (Grand Rapids, MI/Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans, 2008), pp. 367–91Google Scholar. The echo is noted already by NA26.

37 Francis Watson insists that we must choose between these two interpretations, and argues forcefully that the former is correct, on the basis that πίστις and δικαιο- words occur together frequently elsewhere. See ‘By Faith (of Christ): ‘An Exegetical Dilemma and its Scriptural Solution’, in Bird and Sprinkle, The Faith of Jesus Christ, pp. 147–63.

38 See e.g. Hanson, Anthony Tyrrell, Studies in Paul's Technique and Theology (London: SPCK, 1974), pp. 40–5Google Scholar; Campbell, Douglas A., ‘Romans 1:17: A Crux Interpretum for the ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ Debate’, Journal of Biblical Literature 113 (1994), pp. 265–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

39 1 Enoch 38:2; 53:6. The date of this section of 1 Enoch is notoriously difficult to establish.

40 Acts 3:14; 7:52; 22:14. See also Jas. 5:16.

41 Martyn, J. Louis, Galatians, Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1997), pp. 270–1Google Scholar.

42 E.g. Johnson, ‘Romans 3:21–26’, pp. 79–80.

43 A few MSS and versions read Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, but the evidence for this reading is very weak.

44 Cf. Johnson, ‘Romans 3:21–26’, p. 80.

45 Lambrecht, Jan and Thompson, Richard W., Justification by Faith: The Implications of Romans 3:27–31 (Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1989), p. 70Google Scholar.

46 I explored these links in ‘Philippians 2.6–11’, in Ellis, E. Earle und Grässer, Erich (eds), Jesus und Paulus: Festschrift für W.G. Kümmel (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1975), pp. 151–64Google Scholar, reprinted in Hooker, From Adam to Christ, pp. 88–100.

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