Feb 9, 2016

God's Faith? (viii)

I realize that the term "the faith" does not exactly mean "the word" or "the doctrine" or "the gospel," etc., yet I affirm that these terms are often used interchangeably by the new testament writers as denoting essentially the same thing. All these terms refer to the divine revelation in existence at the time when the term was used by an author of the new testament.

As I have stated, the presence or absence of the Greek definite article is of crucial help in judging whether "faith" is subjective or objective. Most often the presence of the definite article with "faith" signifies that it is the object or source of individual subjective faith that is denoted, with the exception that sometimes the definite article is used more as a demonstrative pronoun and in such cases "the faith" will mean "this subjective belief."

Remember too that the presence of a Genitive noun behind a Head Noun (N+Ng construction) requires a judgment of the interpreter as to what kind of Genitive it is in a particular instance, and that context is the ultimate criterion in making such a judgment.

Those like the Hardshell cultists who promote an extreme "KJV onlyism" and who think God so inspired the 1611 translators that they made no errors or mistakes in judgment in their translation, must think that the KJV translators not only got all their translations correct, but all their interpretive judgments also, for no translation is without such. This is such a foolish and unlearned position that it is not even worth responding to. Each of us must decide for ourselves, with helps, to make the correct judgment in our interpretation of Greek Genitives. I will not, like the Hardshells, put my faith in the 1611 translators so as to believe that they never erred in their interpretations of Genitives. They put their faith in men in doing so. I think it is because their preachers are lazy and have not wanted to study the original languages. And, if one did start offering alternative translations to the KJV, the cultists will cry "heresy." They might even do this if one cites an alternative translation to the KJV.

Plenary Genitives

This kind of genitive is generally defined as including both Subjective and Objective Genitives simultaneously, the author intentionally having more than one kind of meaning in mind by his use of the Genitive. Further, in my view, "plenary genitives" may not only combine both the objective and subjective kinds, but may also combine other types.

Though we may not know for certain the totality of what the particular author had in mind in using a genitive behind a head noun, yet in many cases the words being interpreted may be at least true in more than one sense as respects the kind of genitive. And, this being so, who can doubt that this plenary meaning was not intentional? Certainly context will help show whether the author limits the genitive to only one kind.

Some Greek linguists are reluctant to admit of the category of "plenary genitive," often affirming that such a category results from scholars being unable to determine with certainty whether a given genitive in a particular passage is either objective or subjective, and so call such cases "plenary genitive," where the writer may have had both ideas in mind, or at least both kinds are true in each passage. For instance, Daniel Wallace advocates the idea of a "plenary genitive." Others, like Robert L. Thomas in "Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old" (SEE HERE), believe Wallace errs in his idea of a "plenary genitive," thinking that each genitive must be singular, and cannot be both objective and subjective, for instance.

It is not my intention to defend the reality of the "plenary genitive," although I agree with Wallace and others in its usage and presence in the Greek New Testament. In the text to look at next, I think we have a possible example of such. But, before we look at that text, let us take a look at our main verse from Romans 3:3 and see if the genitive noun in "the faith of God" may not be plenary, including several ideas.

The Faith that is from God 

If the presence of the definite article before "faith" greatly leads credence to "the faith" being understood as being the object of individual personal belief and trust, and not to that subjective belief itself, then it is natural to think that by "of God" simply means "from God," and thus an Ablative Genitive or genitive or source is an intended idea of Paul.

Some think that the genitive form of the noun "God" (theou) being Ablative is rare, because more often when a writer wished to express source or separation he would use a preposition such as "ek" which more clearly expresses the idea of source. Yet, these also acknowledge that sometimes the idea of source is indeed expressed by the genitive case alone, without the use of such a preposition. And, I believe, that Romans 3: 3 is an example of this. Keep in mind that the presence of the genitive noun, rather than the use of an adjective or preposition, is for emphatic purposes. And, who can doubt that Paul in both "the oracles of God" and "the faith of God," is placing emphasis on the nature of "the faith." Both "the oracles" and "the faith" are "of God."

Who can doubt that by speaking of "the faith" as being "of God" that Paul implies a contrast with the "no faith" of apostate Jews and heathen Gentiles? Or, to put it another way, who cannot see that Paul in context was comparing the faith of Christians with the faith of carnal Jews and pagans? Further, this implied contrast between the religion of Jehovah and the religion of men and demons naturally involves the source of each. From whence comes the Christian creed or faith? From whence comes the faith of the apostate "Jew"? Or of the faith and beliefs of the Gentile polytheists? One is "of God," and the other is by implication "of men."

All genitive nouns in the N-Ng format are designed first and foremost to limit and describe the kind of thing denoted by the head noun. Certainly the idea of source or origin limits and defines "the faith." "The faith" of Christians has come from God, and affirming this says something about the quality of "the faith."

Further, if we equate "the oracles of God" with "the faith of God" (as we should), then who can doubt that in the first instance an Ablative Genitive or genitive of source is not included and intended? The oracles are "of the God" in the sense of "from the God," they coming from his mouth. Further, though Paul could have used the preposition "ek" to say "the oracles that are out of God," he does not do so, but uses the genitive form of "God" to denote source and this because he wants to emphasize it. If the expression "the oracles of the God" includes the idea of source, being ablative, then so does the expression "the faith of the God."

The two expressions are so similar. Both have the definite article before the head noun, being "the oracles" and "the faith." Both genitive nouns also have the definite article before "God." Many translations like the KJV omit the definite article before "God," but this is not warranted, for the presence of the article in both head noun and genitive noun furthers the contrast intended; in the one case it is a contrast between the "no faith" of lost men and "the faith" of God and Christians, and in the other case it is a contrast between the "no god" and "the God."

The Faith belonging to the God

As noted in previous postings, all genitive nouns in the N-Ng construction function in some way as adjectives, limiting, defining, and modifying the head noun. If there is only one intended way that the apostle Paul intended that his use of the Genitive was to be understood, then I would opt for the genitive of source, or the Ablative. But, believing that Paul intended more than this by his use of the genitive noun, being a full or plenary genitive, there is no reason to doubt that Paul also intended "tou theou" to be understood as denoting possession as well as source, and therefore may be seen as being both an Ablative and Possessive Genitive. If both are true, and may fit the context, who can doubt that they were all intended? It is a basic function or property of all Genitive Nouns in the N-Ng form is to describe adjectivally the head noun. Thus, as stated previously, "the law of the Lord" may simply mean the same thing as "the Lord's law." And, in the case before us, "the faith of God" would mean "God's faith." The only thing different in such a change is that the definite article before either the Head noun or the Genitive noun is generally dropped.

Still, when one contrasts or compares things (nouns) by looking at the source of each, or by looking at who possesses each, he is still saying something adjectivally and descriptively. In "Grammatical Role 1: Adjectival Genitives" (HERE) we read (emphasis mine):

"This is the most fundamental role of a genitive, it describes. Whether as a true genitive or as an ablative, the genitive describes the head noun. Thus it qualifies or modifies the head noun, indicating limitations as to the scope of that noun's class of persons or things. In this way, the genitive functions much like an adjective. However, the genitive is more emphatic or stronger than an adjective, and a genitive also implies movement or action from it to the head noun.

Depending on the characteristics of any genitive person or thing, there are usually strong implications of some kind of definite interactive relationship between the genitive noun and the head noun."

Who can doubt that there is an "interactive relationship" between "the oracles" and "the God"? Or, between "the faith" and "the God"?

Under "Possessive Genitives" the same Greek lesson says:

"It should also be mentioned that, even when a genitive may be clearly defined as a possessive, it still might be better to classify it (and thus interpret its meaning) as something else. In other words, while the aspect of possession might be a part of the meaning, other implications of meaning may need to be expressed more prominently. Wallace gave the following examples of genitives -- all of which indicate possession, but all of which indicate a greater emphasis on other meanings..."

This writer is simply saying that in determining the kind of genitive in a particular text that "other meanings" than one may be noted and possible. This upholds what I am saying about genitive nouns being capable of being "plenary."

The lesson also says:

"So, although the possessive genitive is common, it is best to reserve it as a "second to last resort" in terms of selecting it as a category. If the most relevant meaning of the genitive construction fits into some other category, choose that other category. Wallace gave some examples of genitives which indicate possession as the primary or dominant meaning."

The problem with this statement is that it seems, on the one hand, to deny that a genitive noun can be plenary, or carry more than one sense, and on the other hand to affirm it. The author wants us to pick one category, yet affirming that there are other meanings other than the "primary."

In this same Greek lesson on genitive nouns, there is mention of "Genitives of Production (Genitive of Producer)," and the author writes:

"Here, the genitive is used to indicate that which produces the head noun, and normally can be interpreted with the key words "produced by" (e.g., ἡ εἰρήνη τοῦ Θεοῦ = "the peace of God" = "the peace produced by God"). It is something like a genitive of source (and sometimes classified as such), because the genitive is a source of the head noun. But there is "a more active role on the part of the genitive [of production]" (Wallace), since it involves the production of the head noun (i.e., it means "peace produced by God," not just "peace from God")."

Again, who can doubt that in the expressions "the oracles of the God" and "the faith of the God" that God is not only the source of the oracles and the faith but that he produced them?

The Contrast

In the KJV "their unbelief" is the translation of a genitive and literally is "the no faith of them" and is contrasted with "the faith of the God." Both are genitives. If the former is a subjective genitive, then so would be the latter, and would be an argument in favor of "the faith of God" being subjective also, denoting the faith that God possesses or exercises. But, if the former is objective, then so would the latter. Finally, if the former is plenary then so would the latter.

In determining the kind of genitive noun in "the faith of the God" it is necessary to compare it with the two others in the immediate context. First, there is the contrast between "the faith of them" versus "the faith of the God," and Second, there is the comparable expressions "the oracles of the God" and "the faith of the God." By the "no faith" of the apostate Jews and pagan Gentiles Paul is referring to the religion or creed of these groups, both being viewed by the apostle as lacking real truth, or a real word of God, and all originating from men themselves via the inspiration of the demons. Not only does Paul refer to corrupt faith and religion as being in reality "no faith" at all, but he refers to the gods and lords of these religions as being "no gods." In the minds of the apostate Jews and pagan Gentiles their faith, like their gods and creeds, were "real" or "true," but Paul denies that they are real, saying that their faith is really "no faith" and their gods and lords are "no gods."

"The faith that is of them" must include the idea that it originates with them and thus must be a genitive of source. It also may include the idea of a possessive genitive, "their unbelief," or "the no faith that belongs to them," and this in contrast to "the faith that belongs to God," taking both genitives in the exact same sense.

"The faith that is of them" may also include the idea of an objective genitive and thus mean "the creed" of them, or their set of religious or theological beliefs. Further, "the faith of the God" may likewise be objective genitive, not because it is an object for God himself to place his own subjective faith in, but rather it is so because it is the object of Christian subjective faith. In fact, as we will see, it is "the faith" (objective) that produces "faith" that is individual subjective belief.

No comments: