[B-Greek] Mark 11:22

Jonathan Robie jonathan.robie at datadirect-technologies.com
Wed Jun 11 16:08:47 EDT 2003

At 06:56 PM 6/11/2003 +0100, Andy Nwebube wrote:

> > I'm not sure if you read Greek or not. I don't think the Greek
> > supports you here
>I'm afraid I don't read Greek that's probably why I am struggling.
>Nevertheless I do understand what you are saying. Thanks.

This list is normally for those who do read Greek and can discuss the 
details of the Greek text. Your question isn't really disruptive - and it's 
a common question that beginners in Greek have - and your attitude is good, 
you really want to learn. So I think it is OK to discuss this here right 
now. If you often have questions about the Greek, we might want to arrange 
some other way to get your questions answered, or perhaps we could interest 
you in learning Greek.

You could start, for instance, with Greek 101, found in my signature. It's 
an old site, and covers only the very basic parts, but many people have 
found it useful as a beginning.

> > I don't know what notes you are using. How do these notes interpret
> > similar Greek phrases found, for example, in Gal 3:26, Rom 3:22, Rom
> > 3:26, and actually throughout the New Testament? The problem may well
> > be with your notes.
>I will give but a few;
>The Dake Annotated Reference Bible (KJV):
>"Literally, 'Have the Faith of God.' Such is possible or it will not be
>a command. Man was created with Gods Faith but doubt entered in at
>the fall....."

I don't have Dake's. The King James text itself says "Faith in God", and 
most translations choose this rendering. I agree with Dake's that the main 
contrast in this context is between faith and doubt.

I disagree that it is "literally" to be taken as "Have the Faith of God". 
Let me try to explain the elements that make up the phrase ECETE PISTIN QEOU.

ECETE means "you (plural) have", in this context, it is an imperative - 
have faith!, addressed to more than one person.

PISTIN means either "trust, faith, reliance" or "faithfulness". I know 
that's confusing, but words in Greek, like words in English or any other 
language, often have more than one meaning.

QEOU can mean "of God" or "God's" or "in God", more or less.

If it were not for the context, I think any of the following would be 
logically possible:

1. Have faith in God
2. Have faithfulness in God (I have no idea what that would mean)
3. Have God's faithfulness (similar constructions often seem to refer to 
the faithfulness of Jesus)
4. Have God's faith (which might mean the faith that God gives, or faith 
like that of God)

The grammar by itself won't tell you which of these to choose.

I have to say I am rather irritated by the existence of commentaries that 
try to solve the problem by saying that one of these renderings is the 
"literal" one, or suggesting "Greek scholars tell us it is a literal 
translation". Maybe the people who wrote those commentaries simply don't 
know anything about language or Greek, but none of these four possibilities 
is the One True Literal Translation here.

You simply have to look at the context. The context is about X and doubt. 
Let's try faithfulness - "faithfulness and doubt". No, it just doesn't sing 
to me. "faith and doubt" - now that sounds a little better. And in this 
context, faith seems to have something with trusting that God can move 
mountains, and moving out in the power of that faith. I think that makes 
interpretation 1 by far the most likely.


P.S. Here are three useful consumers tips:

Consumers tip #1: You are often better off with no commentaries at all than 
with commentaries that you can't rely on. Many, many commentaries claim to 
give you the inside scoop on the Greek, and most of them are very 
misleading. In this case, just using the most widespread translations would 
have given you the interpretation that most people on this list think is 

Consumers tip #2: Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament is a 
widely available commentary that is easy to understand for beginners and is 
pretty reliable. There are others - perhaps people on this list can help 
with suggestions.

Consumers tip #3: Don't rely on interpretations that aren't supported by 
most translations. Sometimes most translations get something wrong, but 
that's actually pretty rare.

Consumers tip #4: Context is king. A text without a context is only a 
pretext. And you don't have to know Greek to grasp the context. Read the 
passage attentively, again and again, without turning to commentaries at 
all until you have grasped what is there on the surface.  

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