Morna Hooker’s New Article on Pistis Christou

Morna Hooker’s New Article on Pistis Christou March 9, 2016

I just saw this today, Morna D. Hooker, “Another Look at πίστις Χριστοῦ,” SJT 69 (2016): 46-62.

The debate regarding the meaning of πίστις Χριστοῦ in the Pauline epistles continues and is important because of its implications for theology. In the phrase there is a double ambiguity, which touches not only the significance of the genitive, but also the meaning of πίστις. A brief look at some key texts in Romans suggests that the phrase refers primarily to the faith/faithfulness of Christ, but that this is also something shared by those who are ‘in Christ’. Through Christ God has done what the law could not do, enabling men and women to become his children, and so share not only in Christ’s faith but in what he is. The phrase thus represents the ‘delicate balance between human behaviour and divine grace’ that characterises Paul’s soteriology.

She gives four reasons why the subjective genitive view is catching on:

– The stress on righteousness as belonging to God;
– The realisation that much of Paul’s argument concerns God’s dealings with Israel and Gentiles rather than just individuals;
– The growing recognition of the importance of the idea of participation in Paul; and
– The recognition that Christ’s humanity is important for both Paul’s soteriology and christology.

Hooker also provides a quick overview of Romans 1, 3, and 5, which stress the coherence of the “faithfulness of Christ” for understanding Romans. She writes:

So is Christ’s pistis in 3:22 his faith in God or a sharing in the faithfulness of God? Romans 5 suggests that the answer may be ‘both’.  The logic of 3:22 requires us to suppose that here, too, Paul is thinking of God’s action in Christ, and in v. 24 he spells out what this action is. ‘God sent forth Christ Jesus as a hilasterion – a mercy seat – through faith/faithfulness, by his death’. But what does the phrase dia pisteos here mean? This time there is no reference to either Christ or to the believer, but I am inclined to agree with those who have argued that the strange order of words suggests that Paul must be thinking again of the pistis of Christ. Our redemption was achieved both through the action of God and through Christ’s trust in him. The paragraph was rounded off with yet another use of the phrase, but this time it refers to ‘the faith of Jesus’ rather than that of Christ, which suggests that Paul is referring here to his faith rather than ours.

Glad to see Prof. Hooker noting the book I edited with Preston Sprinkle on The Faith of Jesus Christ as indicative of the fact that the PX debate is not going away any time soon!

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