Colossians 2:12

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Mike Baber
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Colossians 2:12

Post by Mike Baber » July 5th, 2011, 11:53 am

Colossians 2:12

συνταφέντες αὐτῷ ἐν τῷ βαπτίσματι, ἐν ᾧ καὶ συνηγέρθητε διὰ τῆς πίστεως τῆς ἐνεργείας τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἐγείραντος αὐτὸν ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν

In the KJV, ἐν ᾧ καὶ συνηγέρθητε διὰ τῆς πίστεως τῆς ἐνεργείας τοῦ θεοῦ is translated as, "...wherein also ye are risen with [him] through the faith of the operation of God."

My question concerns διὰ τῆς πίστεως τῆς ἐνεργείας τοῦ θεοῦ.

Can this be translated where τῆς ἐνεργείας τοῦ θεοῦ is the appositive of τῆς πίστεως (i.e., epexegetical genitive/ genitive of apposition), thus "faith, the operation[1] of God..."?

[1] or "working," "energy"

Thank you.
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Randall Tan
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Re: Colossians 2:12

Post by Randall Tan » July 5th, 2011, 2:36 pm

I would like to suggest some working guidelines, which I have found helpful in disambiguating genitive constructions.

First of all, genitive constructions are underspecified as to the whole range of labels/functions often attributed to them (see for example the long list in a grammar like Wallace). However, contextual factors may lead one to posit one of those categories for a particular genitive (the category really describes far more than the actual function of the genitive).

Second, genitive constructions are often short-hand nominalization of more fully spelled out concepts that have been or will be developed with the discourse. (This characterization does not include simple qualifications like positing a relation or a possessive relationship between a person or item to another person, for instance. Such genitive constructions are clear enough & do not need to be spelled out elsewhere in the discourse.)

Third, it is usually a sounder practice to ask not what functions may be possible in the abstract (from the long list of possibilities cataloged in grammars like Wallace), but rather to ask what function the discourse context leads one to expect.

Fourth, specifically for the possibility of an appositional relation, the np that is in apposition usually is more known or clearer in identity from the previous context than the np to which it is in apposition.

As applied to this case in col 2:12, I would suggest carefully tracing statements in the discourse that have to do with the concepts of faith & God's working/power, in line with the 2nd & 3rd guideline. In conjunction with the 4th guideline, these guidelines make an appositional reading suspect. It is not clear that faith/belief has been identified as God's working/power in the previous context. In addition, this work is linked with God's raising of Christ from the dead in the np--God's raising of Christ is not clearly linked to Christ's faith or the believer's faith, it is an objective act in history.

Based on what has been said about faith & God's working in the discourse, it seems more likely that the genitive is meant to relate faith & God's work/power in raising Christ from the dead. So, what seems clear is that just as God raised Christ from the dead, the same power is at work in raising the Colossian Christians through faith. Does this power work specifically by faith in the power of God who raised Christ from the dead (the "objective" genitive interpretation commonly adopted)? This is possible, but actually more specific than the genitiive requires. It is only necessary to say that this faith is related to (not identical to as in an appositional reading) God's power/work in raising Christ from the dead.
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Randall Tan

Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Colossians 2:12

Post by Barry Hofstetter » July 5th, 2011, 8:51 pm

Randall Tan wrote:
Based on what has been said about faith & God's working in the discourse, it seems more likely that the genitive is meant to relate faith & God's work/power in raising Christ from the dead. So, what seems clear is that just as God raised Christ from the dead, the same power is at work in raising the Colossian Christians through faith. Does this power work specifically by faith in the power of God who raised Christ from the dead (the "objective" genitive interpretation commonly adopted)? This is possible, but actually more specific than the genitiive requires. It is only necessary to say that this faith is related to (not identical to as in an appositional reading) God's power/work in raising Christ from the dead.
Specifically, I would look at genitive constructions with πίστις. If πίστις is regularly followed by a genitive, one would expect the genitive here to be of the same construction as the genitive normally associated with the word. I would take this as the default unless strongly contraindicated by context. This would also eliminate an appositional genitive from consideration.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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timothy_p_mcmahon
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Re: Colossians 2:12

Post by timothy_p_mcmahon » July 9th, 2011, 12:05 am

Wary of crossing the line from Greek to theology, I would understand τῆς πίστεως τῆς ἐνεργείας τοῦ θεοῦ as 'the faithfulness of God's working'.
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Mike Baber
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Joined: May 30th, 2011, 11:25 pm
Location: Texas

Re: Colossians 2:12

Post by Mike Baber » July 11th, 2011, 9:17 am

timothy_p_mcmahon wrote:Wary of crossing the line from Greek to theology, I would understand τῆς πίστεως τῆς ἐνεργείας τοῦ θεοῦ as 'the faithfulness of God's working'.
Interesting translation and one I will contemplate. Thanks!
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