Monday, June 23, 2008

Early English Translations and the Pistis Christou Debate

For my "Romans in the Reformed Tradition" course, I begin each lecture by displaying the English translations of Romans by Tyndale and the Geneva Bible. I am embarrassed to say that I've never yet consulted these translations as part of the pistis christou debate in Pauline studies. I was intrigued, then, when I read their translations of Rom. 3.22:

Tyndale: The rightewesnes no dout which is good before God cometh by the fayth of Iesus Christ vnto all and vpon all that beleve.
Geneva: To wit, the righteousnesse of God by the faith of Iesus Christ, vnto all, and vpon all that beleeue.

I should hardly be surprised since the good ol' KJV is identical here and this underscores that early English translations decidedly maintained the ambiguity of the genitive (the same follows in Gal. 2.16).


Ken Schenck said...

I like the way you put it, "the ambiguity of the genitive." I suspect they read these as objective genitives nonetheless, don't you?

Chrys Theo said...

How about the possibility of pistis being used objectively, in the sense of "the faith/gospel" as used throughout the Epistles, and "pistis Christou" being a possesive genitive"?

jeff miller said...

Do you think the development in the English terms faith/believe during, or even since, the period when these translations were made is significant to this discussion? It seems like a n obedience of loyalty might more easily be a part of "faith" in these earlier times.
I assume the development chronicled in these entries is accurate:

c.1250, "duty of fulfilling one's trust," from O.Fr. feid, from L. fides "trust, belief," from root of fidere "to trust," from PIE base *bhidh-/*bhoidh- (cf. Gk. pistis; see bid). For sense evolution, see belief. Theological sense is from 1382; religions called faiths since c.1300. Faith-healer is from 1885. Old Faithful geyser named 1870 by explorer Gen. H.D. Washburn, Surveyor-General of the Montana Territory, in ref. to the regularity of its outbursts.

c.1175, replaced O.E. geleafa, from W.Gmc. *ga-laubon (cf. O.S. gilobo, M.Du. gelove, O.H.G. giloubo, Ger. glaube), from *galaub- "dear, esteemed." The prefix was altered on analogy of the verb. The distinction of the final consonant from that of believe developed 15c. Belief used to mean "trust in God," while faith meant "loyalty to a person based on promise or duty" (a sense preserved in keep one's faith, in good (or bad) faith and in common usage of faithful, faithless, which contain no notion of divinity). But faith, as cognate of L. fides, took on the religious sense beginning in 14c. translations, and belief had by 16c. become limited to "mental acceptance of something as true," from the religious use in the sense of "things held to be true as a matter of religious doctrine" (c.1225).