With the arrogance of youth, I determined to do no less than to transform the world with Beauty. If I have succeeded in some small way, if only in one small corner of the world, amongst the men and women I love, then I shall count myself blessed, and blessed, and blessed, and the work goes on. -- William Morris

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Whole New Heresy

In New Testament studies here at Duke, Richard Hays carries a lot of clout. Hays struck academic gold with his thesis that the forms of "Pistis Christou" as found in Galatians should be translated as subjective genitives rather than objective genitives: the "faith of Christ" rather than "faith in Christ." This, of course, has theological implications for the doctrine of justification, and NT scholars have been fighting over whether the pieces fit the puzzle ever since. Intro classes here make sure to instill a sense of the eminent intelligibility of the thesis. So far, I find it convincing...

But not THAT convincing. In fact, a (very) brief glance at my Greek syntax book has opened my eyes to the real truth of the phrase. I plan to make my millions with a new trailblazing thesis that unveils what Paul REALLY meant by that phrase.

As it turns out, Hays was only partially correct. Paul was actually using a subset of the subjective genitive known as the Genitive of Subordination. It specifies that which is subordinated to or under the dominion of the head noun, and is characteristically used with nouns that lexically imply rule or authority. Well I says: faith certainly implies authority! If it is to be both the foundational principle of doctrine and of our life in the Spirit, then it sure as hell seems pretty authoritative to me!

Consequently, Paul's phrase doesn't read "faith in Christ" or even "faith of Christ," but rather "faith OVER Christ." Faith actually rules over and dominates Jesus in the scheme of justification. Paul's gospel is truly revolutionary: it prioritizes faith to such a degree that Jesus Christ is actually subject like a servant to faith! Faith, not Jesus, fills the shoes of Death and those other elemental powers that rule over the cosmos. Paul's supposed disagreement with the "Judaizers" is actually a red-herring. He agrees completely with them that Christ Jesus is definitely not the source of justification; its just that faith is way better than the Law at being better than Jesus.

Believing in Christ actually leads to faith taking its proper place over and above Christ: Galatians 2:16 thus reads:
"nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith OVER/HAVING DOMINION OVER Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith OVER/HAVING DOMINION OVER Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.

Eat your heart out, works-righteousness! I figured this brand of heresy would be called "Fideism," but sadly that name was taken. Maybe "Pistisism."

So while you're all collecting the wood to burn me at the stake, I'll be burning in the scholarly spotlight with a wave of career-making new publications.


  • At 2/19/2009 9:54 AM, Blogger Brendan Sammon said…

    Wow! What's in that coffee down yonder?

    I like this new line of thought: let's try and construct new heresies before they happen. It's sort of like a Dr. House-ian approach to theological diagnostics.

    I'll try and come up with one as well.

    Hope that prof you noted isn't a fan of the blogosphere...

  • At 2/19/2009 11:27 AM, Blogger X-Cathedra said…

    I hope the Holy Office of the Inquisition is not a fan of the blogosphere

    Pax Christi,

  • At 2/20/2009 3:56 AM, Blogger Henry Karlson said…

    Heh. I like this. Let's try some of the semantic arguments and bring it back to John 1:1 to find new heresies.

  • At 2/22/2009 8:22 AM, Blogger LeoRufus said…

    This is a very interesting thesis in which faith acts upon the Logos Himself to achieve the end of the faithful. It is as it says in the parable of the faith of the mustard seed which says to the mountain to move from hence to thence and thus it is. The mountain perhaps is Christ referring to Himself. Thus the Mulberry Tree is uprooted and placed into the sea.


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