Are πίστις and πιστεύω semantically the same?

Grammar questions which are not related to any specific text.
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ivdavid
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Are πίστις and πιστεύω semantically the same?

Post by ivdavid » May 16th, 2016, 12:26 am

I am new to these forums and I might have posted in a wrong forum in perhaps not the expected format - please correct me if so.

I am interested in only the greek usage of these words - for example: do πίστευσον ἐπὶ τὸν Κύριον in Acts 16:31 and ἔχετε πίστιν Θεοῦ in Mark 11:22 amount to the same meaning? Is there any semantic difference between "Believing in/on Christ" and "having Faith in Christ" as used in Greek?

cwconrad
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Re: Are πίστις and πιστεύω semantically the same?

Post by cwconrad » May 16th, 2016, 5:32 am

ivdavid wrote:I am new to these forums and I might have posted in a wrong forum in perhaps not the expected format - please correct me if so.

I am interested in only the greek usage of these words - for example: do πίστευσον ἐπὶ τὸν Κύριον in Acts 16:31 and ἔχετε πίστιν Θεοῦ in Mark 11:22 amount to the same meaning? Is there any semantic difference between "Believing in/on Christ" and "having Faith in Christ" as used in Greek?
This question is easier to ask than it is to answer, and I think you'll find that there's considerable divergence of opinion on the matter. What is unquestionable is that the verb πιστεύειν and the noun πίστις derive from a common root (πειθ/ποιθ/πιθ "trust, confidence, reliance, obedience, etc.") and indeed that the verb is a denominative -- derived from the noun. Beyond that, however, there are questions regarding whether the verb and the noun in particular instances is referring to assurance regarding a proposition, trust in a person, or reliability/trustworthiness of a person. Moreover, there's considerable controversy over the question, particularly when the noun πίστις is used with the genitive-case form of a proper noun, whether the genitive case-form is to be interpreted in a "subjective" or "objective" perspective, i.e.: does πίστις ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ mean "faith in/directed toward Jesus Christ" or "Jesus Christ's faith"? Depending on what you are really trying to ask, it may be that you have stepped into a hornet's nest of complexities and controversy. What you might begin with it a careful study of the full entry for the verbs and nouns in question in all the lexicons and a review of all the texts cited for nuanced differentiated usage.
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

ivdavid
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Re: Are πίστις and πιστεύω semantically the same?

Post by ivdavid » May 16th, 2016, 8:13 am

Thank you for touching upon the various points of consideration - I see I do need to do a more serious study on this topic.

I suppose there could be various differing opinions on the meanings of these words, based on the theological beliefs each one bases it on. But if I were to simply start from a study on the Greek language usage, and assume noun and verb phrases as "to have Faith in" and "to Believe in/on" instead of their independent use, and further If I were to simplify the interpretations by assuming this refers to just "trust in a person" as opposed to considerations of "assurance regarding a proposition" etc. - is it possible to elicit any differences between the usage of these two words? For eg: Does simply the Greek permit me to state that "I have Faith in Jesus unto salvation" and simultaneously state that "I do not believe in Jesus unto salvation" ? If so, then I'd know the meaning of these 2 words differ at the very core.

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Are πίστις and πιστεύω semantically the same?

Post by Jonathan Robie » May 17th, 2016, 9:51 am

They are not semantically the same ... for instance, πίστις can mean either faith or faithfulness, and πιστεύω cannot mean "I am faithful". Reasonable people can disagree about what πίστις means in many verses, and whether it is talking about, for instance, our own faith or the faithfulness of Christ.

Richard Hays is well worth reading here:

http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Jesus-Chris ... 0802849571

Here are Hays and N.T Wright debating what the word means in various passages:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JM8DGAnUq2k

That might give you some idea what Carl was talking about.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Eiji Koyama
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Re: Are πίστις and πιστεύω semantically the same?

Post by Eiji Koyama » May 18th, 2016, 2:15 am

How about πιστις and πιστός?

Stephen Hughes
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Re: Are πίστις and πιστεύω semantically the same?

Post by Stephen Hughes » May 18th, 2016, 3:18 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:They are not semantically the same ... for instance, πίστις can mean either faith or faithfulness, and πιστεύω cannot mean "I am faithful".
Eiji Koyama wrote:How about πιστις and πιστός?
If we are looking for something that actually is semantically the same, then, the negative verb ἀπιστεῖν (ἀπιστέω) is another quite common verb that could be treated as if it was the same as πιστός.

Morphologically, ἀπιστεῖν is derived from the adjective / noun πιστός. The ἀ- on the front is similar to our "un-" or "in-". The range of meanings that ἀπιστεῖν can have reflects the range of meanings of πιστός, ie as πιστός can mean "faithful" or "believing", so too ἀπιστεῖν "to be unfaithful" and "to not believe (what was said to them)". There are a few places were choosing one or other of those meanings is significant. Romans 3:3 and 2 Timothy 2:13 need interpretation to be understood. In Mark 16:16 reads as a choice at that moment, if ἀπιστεῖν means "didn't believe" or it reads as a requirement to remain faithful after initial belief if it is read as "to be unfaithful".

It seems that only πιστεύω is limited in the way that it is.

The closest thing to "I am faithful" seems to be the middle-passive of πιστόω (a rare verb in the NT) that occurs in Psalm 77:37. οὐδὲ ἐπιστώθησαν ἐν τῇ διαθήκῃ "neither were they steadfast in his covenant" (Brenton). Presumably, he uses the English "steadfast" in the sense of "faithful to".
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

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