Reason No. 19: The πίστις – πιστεύω Disparity Effect – 100 Reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive
Posted by NT Wrong on December 19, 2008
The following post is an abridged version of one of the 100 reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive included in my forthcoming book:
100 Reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive
Reason No. 19: The πίστις – πιστεύω Disparity Effect
If the subjective genitive interpretation were adopted for the phrase πίστις Χριστοῦ, it would result in the highly unusual disparity that the noun πίστις would be assigned to Christ, while all occurrences of the verb πιστεύω are attributed to human believers.
Campbell argues that such an argument relies on fallacious etymology (1997: 713-719). But he’s wrong. Barry Matlock (2002: 13) rightly counters that:
1. Paul uses the noun and verb interchangeably in his paraphrase in Rom 4.9 (“We say, ‘Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.'”) of his earlier quote of Gen 15.6 in Rom 4.3 (“Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”);
2. E. A. Nida and J. P. Louw’s, Lexical Semantics of the Greek New Testament Based on Semantic Domains treats the noun πίστις (“trust”) and verb πιστεύω (“I trust”) as a single entry;
3. The fallacy of etymology involves historical development not semantic classifications; and
4. Paul’s choice of verb or noun is one of syntactic structure and stylistic features, and it’s overinterpreting his letters to treat the stylistic difference as having theological import.
So the subjective genitive translation results in an implausible disparity between the meaning of the noun πίστις and the verb πιστεύω. Given these unlikely semantic consequences, the objective genitive is to be preferred.
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