[B-Greek] Theologically motivated translation, at times

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Tue Jun 30 02:04:44 EDT 2009

What is rather intriguing to me from the Wallace text below is that although he 
has so many different categories for the genitive, he seems to think of only 
two, subjective and objective. He talks about "God as object" and the only other 
option he mentions is the subjective "Have the faith that God haves". Since the 
second is rather strange, he chooses the first.
But, who said that these are the only two options? One option which might fit 
this context is source. The kind of faith that God gives to people or inspires 
people to have. It would be akin to "the gift of faith". And it would be close 
to what Mark suggested below: "divine faith" although this is basically a 
descriptive use.

The source option is partly supported by places like


So, I would say that the two best candidates are the objective and source 
genitive interpretations.
Obviously, theology place an important part for all Bible translators, and if 
they don't acknowledge that, I think they are fooling themselves. It is helpful 
to comment on the more controversial places in footnotes.

Iver Larsen

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Mark Lightman" <lightmanmark at yahoo.com>
To: "B Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>; "Mitch Larramore" 
<mitchlarramore at yahoo.com>
Sent: 28. juni 2009 15:17
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Theologically motivated translation, at times

> Mitch,
> Thanks for pointing this out. I had not noticed it before.
> All the translations I checked offer "Have faith in God" except
> two. Rheims offers "Have the faith of God" and Montgomery
> offers "Take hold on God's faithfulness." The Modern Greek
> also has "in God" (NA EXETE PISTH STO QEO.) I was surprised
> to find that the phrase PISTIS QEOU occurs only here and in
> Rom 3:3, where is means something like "God's faithfulness,"
> but certainly not "faith in God."
> I think I know which groups Wallace is taking about, and it
> seems to me that they would be justified in construing this
> not as faith in God but as the sort of faith that God Himself has,
> maybe even the sort of faith that Jesus has. The NET editors
> themselves do a good job in highlighting those cases in
> Paul (e.g. Gal 2:16) where PISTIS IHSOU CRISTOU may not mean faith
> IN Jesus at all, but the saving fidelity OF Jesus in going to
> the cross. It seems to me that all "Word of Faith" folks
> would be doing in Mk 11:20 is construing it as a "subjective
> GENIKN," as Wallace might say, but in a different direction,
> not the faithfulness of Jesus, but the sort of superhuman faith
> that believers can have. I myself would render Mk 11:20 with something
> like "Get hold of divine faith." The thing about theologically motivated
> translations is that even a broken clock is correct twice a day.
> Mark L
> Φωσφορος Μαρκος
> --- On Sun, 6/28/09, Mitch Larramore <mitchlarramore at yahoo.com> wrote:
> From: Mitch Larramore <mitchlarramore at yahoo.com>
> Subject: [B-Greek] Theologically motivated translation, at times
> To: "B Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Date: Sunday, June 28, 2009, 4:49 AM
> I read the following short blurb by Dr. Wallace on Mark 11.22 and the reason 
> for translating ECETE PISTIN QEOU. My question is below the blurb, and this 
> topic is coincidental to the resent set of exchanges about GGBB's discussion 
> of the Genitive.
> Why doesn't the translation of the genitive in Mark 11:22 use the word of? How 
> is theology used to translate this verse?
> By: Daniel B. Wallace
> The Greek genitive case can be used in dozens of ways, and to leave it as 
> simply an 'of' idea is often very misleading. For example, the genitive case 
> is used with the comparative adjective for the idea of comparison. We would 
> translate this something like, "His car is better THAN her car." The 'than' is 
> the genitive word 'of.' But to translate it as 'his car is better OF her car' 
> doesn't make any sense. In Mark 11:22, although there are a couple of valid 
> ways to translate the text, when one is dealing with God as the object, it's 
> difficult to think of more than one. So, yes, theology does play a part in 
> translation, but necessarily so. There are some groups that want to translate 
> this passage as 'Have the faith that God has' but such an idea is unparalleled 
> anywhere else in the Bible and doesn't fit the context. 'Have faith in God' is 
> the preferred translation and meaning.
> [End of paragraph]
> Is that really true that the translation "of God" is perhaps expected, but for 
> theological reasons, "in God" is substituted? It seems strange to me to 
> suggest that deviations from the translation "of xyz" for the Genitive may 
> result from theological motives, especially in a "theological" book!
> Mitch Larramore
> Sugar Land, Texas

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