Mark 11:22

Mike Sangrey mike at
Wed Jul 14 18:16:20 EDT 1999

rrilea at said:
> I was asked asked a question about the following passage:
> The question was about the phrase ECETE PISTIN QEOU in particular.
> The KJV, NIV, NRSV, NAS translates this as "Have faith in God" The
> question I was asked is why is this not translated as "have the faith
> of God?" I am interested in finding out why the preposition "in" is
> used instead of the preposition "of" in translating the genitive in
> this verse?   

The genitive is a descriptive case.  I was taught to think of it as
expressing 'kind'.  Jesus responds to His disciples by telling them to
have a "God kind of faith."

To elucidate, A.T. Robertson cites Matthew 1:12--METOIKESIAN
BABULWNOS--and says that this tells us only that it was a Babylon-removal.
It does not tell us whether it was 'to' or 'from' Babylon.  We know
from Old Testament history that this was a 'to' removal--from Judah
to Babylon.  Therefore, I think, frequently the preposition "to" is
added in the translations.

Mark 11:22 only says to "have a God kind of faith."  We have to look
elsewhere to determine what the relation actually is.  Personally, I think
that 11:23-25 makes that clear.  In fact, that Mark uses the genitive
here and not EN with the locative dative tells me that (specifically in this
passage) we should not focus on whom to have faith in; but, we are to take
a good, solid look directly at our faith and answer the question, "what
kind of faith do I have?  Is it a God-oriented of God-centric faith?"
Jesus uses the fig tree as a trigger to get His disciples to focus on
the kind of faith they must have to live as true disciples.

To translate PISTIN QEOU as "faith of God" would have an ambiquity
similar to the original, which in some cases is positive.  But, to
the English speaking mind it would raise confusion.  People would want
to know what kind of faith God has, what is God's faith like, and other
questions of that sort.  All of which miss the point.  As I said above,
I think the focus should be on the kind of faith that we are to have.
The best (popular) translation then is "have faith in God."  I personally
would like to see "have a Godward faith."

Mike Sangrey
mike at

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