James 1:3

Steven R. Lo Vullo doulos at appleisp.net
Sun Sep 2 22:40:20 EDT 2001

on 9/2/01 5:36 PM, Matt Eby at ebymatt at yahoo.com wrote:

> 1.  "the proving of your faith/faithfulness effects perseverance."
> Here PISTEWS is objective genitive, modifying DOKIMION, and hUMWN is
> possessive, modifying PISTEWS.
> 2.  "your proving of [your] faith/faithfulness effects perseverance."
> This is the same as #1, except that hUMWN is subjective genitive,
> modifying DOKIMION, and the article preceding PISTEWS is possessive.
> 3.  "the proving of 'you of faith/faithfulness' effects perseverance."
> Here hUMWN is objective genitive, modifying DOKIMION, and PISTEWS is
> descriptive genitive, modifying hUMWN ("you [who are characterized by]
> faith/faithfulness").
> 4.  "the proving of 'you of the faith' effects perseverance."  This is
> the same as #3, except that PISTEWS is possessive genitive, modifying
> hUMWN ("you [who belong to] the faith")--THS PISTEWS here referring to
> the body of belief, i.e., the Christian faith.
> I could be wrong, but I think Jim West was advocating #3.  His
> suggestion comes *not* from viewing PISTIS (on its own in some sort of
> vocative fashion) to mean "faithful people," but from viewing PISTEWS
> in the genitive phrase "hUMWN THS PISTEWS" as modifying hUMWN ('you of
> faith').  This is not far from the meaning of the genitive PISTEWS
> modifying OIKEIOUS in Gal. 6:10 (which the NIV renders "the family of
> believers"--although this would perhaps better vindicate option #4 than
> #3).

If that is what he meant, I completely misunderstood him and we were just
talking past each other. If that is the case, I apologize. But he began his
post with the words "*your testing*" (emphasis his) which seems to take
hUMWN as a modifier of DOKIMION. Then he offered the translation "knowing
this- that the tests you endure, you faithful ones, result in
steadfastness." Taking into account how he had begun his post (*your
testing*), it seemed to me that the first "you" in his translation again
took hUMWN as a modifier of DOKIMION, and the second "you" was used to bring
out some absolute sense of THS PISTEWS. I don't know what else I could have
thought under the circumstances.

Operating on the assumption above, in my reply to Jim I said, "while PISTIS
in certain contexts can mean 'faithfulness,' I don't see how it can mean
'faithful one.' Jim responded, "because ... in ancient palestine people used
nouns to describe the attributes of folk rather than as mere abstractions."
Note that he is responding to my comment about the possibility of PISTIS
meaning "faithfulness" but not "faithful one." His answer seems to indicate
that we may indeed take PISTIS as "faithful one."

Finally, when I said, "PISTEWS is singular, not plural," and that even if it
were plural, it wouldn't mean "faithful ones," Jim responded, "the singular
often stands in place of the plural when a group is conceived in its
singularity." Again, I don't know what else I could have thought except that
he was indeed contending that PISTIS could be taken as a collective noun
here. If in fact there was a total communication breakdown from the start,
resulting in us talking past one another, I again apologize.

> You, on the other hand, take the vice-versa ('the faith of you').  I
> tend to think you're right.  The same phrase exactly ("TO DOKIMION
> hUMWN THS PISTEWS") also appears in 1 Peter 1:7, and it seems from
> context that it is the "faith of you" that is being proven, not the
> "you of faith."  This seems to be further supported by the tendency of
> some later scribes (in both James and 1 Peter) either to place hUMWN
> after THS PISTEWS or to omit it entirely (see NA27, although the second
> editor of Vaticanus in James inversely omits THS PISTEWS!).  We must
> concede, however, that Jim's suggestion would be a valid grammatical
> (though IMO contextually less likely) option if he is arguing on the
> above count.

If he was expressing #3 above, then yes, he was offering a valid grammatical
option. However, if that is the case, I don't know how I could have
discerned it by what he actually wrote.

Steve Lo Vullo
Madison, WI

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