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Reason No. 47: The Evidence of the Church Fathers – 100 Reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive

Posted by NT Wrong on December 21, 2008

pistis_christouThe 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. 47: The Evidence of the Church Fathers

Harrisville’s survey of the Church Fathers (1994) shows that native Greek speakers Origen and Chrysostom interpreted πίστις Χριστοῦ in the objective genitive sense (cf. Silva 1988). Undoubtedly, Origen and Chrysostum also made statements about “the role of Christ in making faith available” in the wider context of their commentaries. But this does not alter the fact that the phrase πίστις Χριστοῦ was interpreted as an objective genitive (contra Hays 2002: il).

Moreover, Harrisville finds no examples of the subjective genitive interpretation in any commentaries of the Fathers.

Furthermore, he finds no discussion of the phrase’s possible ambiguity. Interpretation of the phrase is just not an issue.

It should be remembered that the Fathers’ interpretations follow a period of theological development after Paul, in different social contexts. But nevertheless, the complete absence of interpretational support amongst the early Church Fathers (including native Greek speakers), or even any recognition of its possible ambiguity, is a significant piece of evidence for the objective genitive interpretation.


  • Roy A. Harrisville, “ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ: Witness of the Fathers” Novum Testamentum 36 (1994): 233-41.
  • Moisés Silva, Philippians (WEC: Chicago: Moody, 1988).
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    2 Responses to “Reason No. 47: The Evidence of the Church Fathers – 100 Reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive”

    1. Also Silva’s revised edition 2005 & his Interpreting Galatians: Explorations in Exegetical Method, 2001.

    2. I think this is probably one of the strongest arguments in favor of the Objective Genitive. This series has been interesting.

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