Friday, August 08, 2008

Two Recent Articles in the Pistis Christou Debate

In recent days there have been two articles published on the Pistis Christou debate:

1. Jae Hyun Lee, "Against Richard B. Hays’s ‘Faith of Jesus Christ’" JGRChJ (2008): 51-80.

Here Lee critiques Richard Hays' monograph The Faith of Jesus Christ. In particular, Lee takes Hays to task on the purported narrative structure of Galatians and the alleged divine-human dichotomy that Hays seems to assume. Overall, this is a good lexical semantic approach to the pistis christou debate, but it suffers from historical redundancy. Hays himself has pretty much abandoned arguing for the subjective genitive view based on a narrative sub-structure to Galatians and few subjective genitivalists refer to the redundancy of pistis/pisteuo any more (I know for a fact that Doug Campbell has abandoned that line of argument all together). Lee's critique might have been relevant in the early 1980s, but I question its utility now in 2008, the debate has moved on. What is more, I would point out that by undermining the weakest point of someone's argument does not mean that you have thereby undermined their argument in total. Lee's critique may be correct (and I surmize that for the most part it is), but Hays' argument has stronger nodes especially in his analysis of Romans 1-4 and reading Gal. 2.15-16 in light of Gal. 3.23, which do not get dealt with.

2. Kenneth Schenck, "2 Corinthians and the Pistis Christou Debate" CBQ 70.3 (2008): 524-37.

Schenck maintains that 2 Cor. 4.13 provides evidence that Paul could think of Jesus as having faith and that Paul saw Jesus' faith as exemplary for the faith of subsequent believers in addition to its instrumental role in their resurrection. This depends on seeing Paul's quotation of Ps. 115 (LXX) as messianic where the speaker is Jesus himself and it refers to Jesus' faith that God will raise him from the dead. The line of argument runs: (1) Paul reads the psalm and sees Jesus having faith that God would raise him from the dead; (2) Paul also has this faith that God will one day raise him and the dead in Christ; (3) because the God who raised Jesus will also raise him and the dead in Christ (p. 528). Schenck supposes that the concepts of Jesus' obedience to God in his death and his confidence in God to raise him from the dead "flowed into each other in Paul's mind" (p. 535). The significance of this observation is that it might illuminate other texts. Perhaps in Rom. 1.17 ("from faith to faith") Paul refers to Jesus' faith and the believer's faith and Gal. 2.16 where three faith expressions are used in sequence. My only quibbles here are that (1) the Church Fathers had much to say against Jesus' faith as exemplary for various reasons. (2) One could accept Schenck's conclusion about 2 Cor.4.13, but still maintain the objective genitive interpretation of the relevant passages in Galatians, Romans, and Philippians. While it might illuminate the subjective genitive position it does not necessitate it or reinforce it.

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