Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Gal 3:2 - Translating

The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by performing the works of the Torah or by trusting what you heard?
Richard Hays notes the difficulty in translating this verse and offers the various possibilities.[1]
The Meaning of ex akoēs pisteōs

If akoē means “hearing”: a) pistis = “believing”: “By hearing with faith”
b) pistis = “the faith”: “by hearing the faith (i.e., “by hearing the gospel)

If akoē means “message”: c) pistis = “believing”: “from the message that elicits faith”
d) pistis = “the faith”: “from the message of the faith” (i.e., “from the gospel message”)

Hays goes on to note that:

The noun akoē can sometimes mean “hearing,” but Paul’s use of it in a similar context in Rom 10:16-17 suggests that he understands it to mean “what is heard” – in other words, the proclaimed message… Here the interpreter of the letter is faced with a crucial fork in the road. Does Paul attribute the receiving of the Spirit to a human action (“hearing with faith”) or to divine initiative (“the message that elicits faith”)?[2]

I have translated this as “trusting what you heard” since ajkoh commonly referred to “the content of what is heard.”[3] I'm not convinced Hays has succeeded in demonstrating that the possible interpretations are mutually exclusive. If the Galatians trusted Paul’s message, it does not therefore negate the power of the message to provoke or elicit trust. It merely notes that by trusting what was spoken by Paul, and not by performing the various Jewish commandments, the Spirit descended upon them. Thus, I would still want to argue that this leaves open the question of divine initiative and human action.
[1] This table is found in Hays, “Galatians”, pg. 252 and further discussed in R. B. Hays, The Faith of Jesus Christ (Scholars Press, 1983) pgs. 143-149
[2] Hays, “Galatians”, pg. 252
[3] Longenecker, Galatians, pg. 103


Sam said...

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I've just started really thinking about the state of the Christian subculture and primarily Christian music, so would appreciate any ideas you guys have on the issue.



Sean said...

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That's where you'll find heaps of discussion on those topics.