[B-Greek] Question on range of meaning of PISTIS/PISTOS as used in GNT
Carl W. Conrad
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Tue Feb 25 07:30:37 EST 2003
Please note that the following message is a forwarded one and NOT my own
contribution. The following message from list-member Chuck Tripp somehow
didn't make it through the regular channels yesterday but came to my
attention this morning as a "bounced" item. I'm forwarding it on to the
list now on his behalf.
From: "Chuck Tripp" <ctripp at ptialaska.net>
Subject: Question on range of meaning of PISTIS/PISTOS as used in GNT
Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2002 21:14:46 -0800
I have encountered uses of PISTOS, PISTIS in Arrian's Anabasis, an account
of Alexander the Great written in the first half of the 2nd century A.D.
(LOEB Classical Library)
I have quoted the following text at some length for context. What interests
me here is PISTOUS EINAI DAREIWi which is translated loyal to Dariusin the
accompanying English translation. What is happening is that Alexander the
Great is pursuing Darius king of Persia and Alexander learns that a certain
Bessus arrests Darius and has himself made leader. However certain people,
Artabazus, his sons and some greek mercenaries loyal to Darius refuse to
take part in the plot because they are PISTOUS TWi DARIiW which is
translated loyal to Darius in the accompanying English test.
Anabasis, Arrian III.21.4 KAI TOUS MEN POLEMIOUS OU KATELABE (ALEXANDROS),
DARIOU DE PERI EPUQETO AUTON MEN SUNEILHMMENON AGESQAI EF' hARMAMAXHS, BESSW,
DE ANTI DAREIOU EINAI TO KRATOS KAI hHGENONA WNOMASQAI BHSSON PROS TE TWN
BAKTRIWN hIPPEWN KAI TWN ALLWN hOSOI BARBAROI SUNEFEUGON DAREIWi, PLHN
ARTABAZOU KAI TWN ARTABAZOU PAIDWN KAI TWN hELLHNWN TWN MISQOFORWN. TOUTOUS
DE PISTOUS EINAI DAREIW i, KAI EIRGEIN MEN TA GIGNOMENA OU DUNATOUS EINAI
Use of PISTIS again comes up a little later in relation to this same event:
Anabasis III.23.7: AUTOFRADATHi MEN DH THN SATRAPEIAN APEDWKEN, ARTABAZON
DE KAI TOUS PAIDAS AMA hOI EN TIMHi HGE, TA TE ALLA EN TOIS PRWTOIS PERSWN
ONTAS KAI THS ES DAREION PISTEWS hENEKA.
What's happening is that Alexander is honoring Artabazus and his sons
their PISTIS ES DAREION, which is translated in the accompanying English
text as because of their loyalty to Darius.
I find this intriguing, because these same phrases in the N.T. I expect
would be translated as "Faith in Darius." Darius is the superior as
God/Christ is the superior in the New Testament.
Now, when I look through the lexicons available to me (Liddell and Scott,
and Thayer's), of course there is a fairly broad range of words to translate,
PISTIS and PISTOS. For PISTIS: trust, faith, persuasion, confidence,
assurance. PISTOS: in passive sense: faithful, trustworthy, genuine, in
active sense: believing, loyal, obedient. (these are all Liddell and Scott
My question is this: Does PISTIS/PISTOS encompass all these definitions?
Is it possible that someone translating PISTIS/PISTOS into English is forced
to select one of these elements (faith, trustworthiness, loyalty, obedience)
which in the opinion of the translator is most prominent and perhaps which
flows best in the English but in so fails to bring out the other elements
present in the Greek. Should I mentally be adding all of these when I see
those types of statements in the New Testament?
Or in the New Testament, should PISTIS EIS CRISTON (Acts 24.24) be seen as
equivalent to PISTEUEIN EIS AUTON [CHRISTON] John 3:16 hOS PISTOS ESTIN KAI
DIKAIOS 1 John 1:9. I.e. PISTIS EIS CHRISTON = placing our trust in
someone who is trust worthy. I don't think PISTEUEIN EIS CRISTON can be
read as "be loyal to Christ."
But should the near identical phrasing, PISTIS ES DAREION, and PISTIS EIS
CHRISTON, cause me to read a certain element of "loyalty to Christ" in the
New Testament phrase? Would a first century reader have understood it in
I would be interested in others thoughts on this.
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