Monday, June 08, 2009

πιστις χριστου in Phil 3:9

I'm currently engaged in a back and forth discussion with Mark Keown regarding the validity of the subjective genitive reading of πιστις χριστου in Philippians 3:9. Mark is remaining neutral, while I am persuaded that this is clearly a subjective genitive, and thus refers to the faithfulness of Christ. Commentators on Philippians are divided on this issue: Barth, O'Brien, Sumney, Fowl, Bockmuehl and Cousar have argued for a subjective genitive, while Hawthorne, Fee, Silva, and Reuman have argued for an objective genitive. The entries by O'Brien and Bockmuehl are particularly helpful in demonstrating the subjective genitive reading.
If anyone has any other references to scholarship that deal specifically with Phil. 3:9, please could you let me know. [[I've lost my copy of Morna Hooker's excellent article, 'πιστις χριστου,' NTS 35 (1989) pg. 321-42, so I'll have to go make another copy (EBSCO doesn't have it!) The discussion by Ian G. Wallis The Faith of Jesus Christ in Early Christian Traditions (Cambridge, 1985) is particularly helpful!]]
I've translated Philippians 3:9 as follows: not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through the faithfulness of the Messiah, the righteousness from God based on faith. The contrast between human righteousness and God's righteousness alone suggests to me that the faithfulness of the Messiah (sub. gen.) is the correct reading.

Since there is an echo of the Christ hymn (Phil 2:6-11) in chapter 3, the phrase dia pisteos Christou can serve as shorthand for the obedient self-surrender of Jesus - that is, to his faithful obedience unto death on a cross (2:8). Futhermore, if the subjective genitive is read, then one avoids duplication with the last phrase in 3:9, "the righteousness of God based on faith.

[Charles Cousar, Philippians and Philemon: A Commentary, NTL (WJK, 2009) pg. 73-74]

The righteousness of God is revealed and established "through the faithfulness of Christ" to which believers respond on the basis of faith.

[Stephen Fowl, Philippians, (Eerdmans, 2005) pg. 154]

Let the debate, I mean discussion, continue.


Michael F. Bird said...

Tell Mark (we have met) to get set to read the forthcoming book from Paternoster on "The Faith of Jesus Christ" which has the best array of essays on the topic. Richard Bell and Paul Foster go head to head on Phil. 3.9.

Sean said...

Hey Mike, I'll let him know!