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- Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing; 2 edition (30 Nov. 2001)
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- Language: English
- ASIN: B004E0Z4YO
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The Faith of Jesus Christ: The Narrative Substructure of Galatians 3:1-4:11 (The Biblical Resource Series) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 364 pages|
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I still haven't decided if I'm sure Hays is right. As I have noted, the book is worth several readings. But for those looking for something meaty in New Testament theology, hermeneutics and/or literary theory, I think this should be at the top of your list.
Hays argues that the passage should be translated as it is literally given in the original koine Greek: "... a [human being] is not justified by the works of the law but through [the] faith OF Jesus Christ ..."
Of course, such a translation all but destroys the popular Protestant doctrine of "justification by faith only." The emphasis of most evangelicals is that it is OUR faith that saves us and that no "work" we perform can, in any way, contribute to our salvation.
Reasoning from this conclusion most of Protestantism has jettisoned water baptism as having any role to play in a person's salvation whatsoever. The fellowship through which I came to the Lord as a teenager, however, teaches that a person must be baptized in water to be saved. This has always confused me.
For years I have listened to the wrangling and agreed (secretly) that baptism could be considered a "work" if understood as a human work. On the other hand, if a human being is saved by "faith only" then I have never been able to understand why water baptism has played such a large role in Christian conversion through the centuries. What is the purpose of water baptism if a human being is saved by faith only?
Hays, if he is correct, solves the dilemma. His argument helps me see why water baptism has been the central initiation rite within Christianity from its inception.
If we are going to be consistent in our translation of the verse then the faith Paul is describing is as much "of Christ" as the works Paul is describing are "of the law." The grammatical construction of the two phrases is identical.
Paul uses the identical construction in Romans 3:21-22 to say, "But now apart from the law a righteousness of God hath been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God through [the] faith OF Jesus Christ unto all them that believe...."
Again, the righteousness Paul is discussing is "of God" (genitive). That righteousness of God has been made available to human beings through the obedient faith OF Jesus Christ (also genitive)! It is the righteousness of God that is transferred into us as "believing ones."
Water baptism, then, makes a whole lot more sense. Three chapters later, in Romans 6:3-4 (as well as in other places in the New Testament) Paul says that at the point of our baptism - a passive act on our part; one in which God is the one doing the work - God transfers us INTO CHRIST!
Human redemption has been secured by the perfect, obedient faith of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. My faith does not produce my salvation; my faith leads me to submit to God's commandment and, at my baptism, God places me into Christ, where the redemptive work He accomplished is passively imputed to me as I am passively transferred into Him! All by the power and work of God!
So, neither is faith a human work nor is baptism a human work - both are my appropriate response to the completed work of God. And, because of the perfect faith of Jesus Christ, God can, and does at my baptism, transfer me into Him where the righteousness of God becomes mine!
Richard B. Hays, you're a genius. Thank you!
English is less ambiguous about the difference between the `objective genitive' and the `subjective genitive.' For instance, in English the difference between `my faith in Jesus Christ' and `Jesus Christ's faithfulness to me' is clear. But in Greek, the same words, (pistis jesou christou) can mean either. (In English we call the genitive case the `possessive' case.)
`Pistos' is the Greek word for faith (nominative case). This word has a deep sense of loyalty, fidelity and dogged persistence. (The young General Josephus, just before the destruction of Jerusalem, was trying to convince a young Jewish zealot to give up his hot-headed resistance to Rome, he said to him, `εἰ μέλλοι μετανοήσειν καὶ πιστὸς ἐμοὶ γενήσεσθαι.' You might recognize this as `repent and believe in me,' the same words we find in the gospel. He means: `give up your old agenda and give me your loyalty.')
So when the Greek genitive is used of `faith' and `Christ' or `Jesus' or `Christ Jesus,' it can mean, `my loyalty (faithfulness) to Jesus,' or `Jesus loyalty (faithfulness) to me.
The burden of Hays argument is that many of these `pistis (jesou) christou' references in their various forms make much more sense of Galatians when they refer to the faithfulness of Jesus Christ and not our loyalty to him.
When I was young I memorized Gal 2:20: `I have been crucified with Christ; it is not longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by FAITH IN THE SON OF GOD who loved me and gave himself for me.'
Well, how much more sense does Paul's argument make if it reads here, and in a number of other places: `I have been crucified with Christ; it is not longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by THE FAITHFULNESS OF THE SON OF GOD who loved me and gave himself for me.'
It's worth a read. Follow out the argument. And then follow out how much more sense, for example, the flow of Romans makes when you read Rom 3:22 in this way. You don't need to know Greek to see it.
One thing: Hays makes it clear that this was his doctoral thesis in the early 80s. The publisher really wanted him to publish this and he did not have time to edit with 20 more years of insight. So he published it as is. But Appendix 2 was written recently and recasts and summarizes the burden of the book and will be a good synopsis for the lay reader.
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