N.T. Wright’s Galatians– Part Eight

N.T. Wright’s Galatians– Part Eight July 13, 2021

Q. I was intrigued by your drawing on Teresa Morgan’s work on fides and iustitia. While I think she does a good job of making her case in regard to the Latin usage of those terms and the range of possible meanings, I was less convinced about the Greek terms that parallel those words, especially in the hands of a devout Jew like Paul. It seems to me that Paul is giving us in Greek his Jewish take on such ideas, not a Latin take. This is why, for instance he has another word for justice and it’s not dikaiosune, but rather a cognate term. I do however take your point about pistis meaning both faith (especially in the sense of trust— Abraham trusted God and it was reckoned….) and faithfulness. Can you unpack for us some more how you think Paul deploys these crucial terms in Galatians?

A. Well, yes, I think Morgan hasn’t closed all the circles yet and I want to take that further. But I do think she’s right that readers of the LXX of Genesis would hear pistis and dikaiosyne and think in terms of the founding and/or maintenance of a community (i.e. rather than ‘going to heaven when you die’). But I think there are specifically Jewish undertones here which Morgan hasn’t plugged into. Clearly for him pistis is multi-functional – trust, faith, loyalty, trustworthiness – with ‘faith’ itself bifurcating (as theologians have regularly seen) into fides qua and fides quae – the faith by which you believe and the faith which you believe. All this is on the table. As for dikaiosyne . . . well! Covenant membership/community solidarity/anticipated final justice . . . all that and much, much more . . .


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