How Did Septuagint Use Verb Pisteuo Which in John Is Always Rendered as Believes?
There are reasons to believe the King James and others wrongfuly assumed pisteuo always means believe, especially to skew John's Gospel in a Pauline slant.
In Isaiah 28:16, the Septuagint Greek translation of 257 BC from the Hebrew Bible, it renders a Hebrew word whose root was aman as pisteuon in Greek. (The Hebrew is ham·ma·’a·mîn. See Hebrew tab at bible.hub for 28.16)
Hence, assuming the Septuagint made a proper translation, then aman in Hebrew is a synonymn for pisteuo, the verb. Then we should add to a dictionary definition of pisteuo whatever we find is the meaning in Hebrew of aman, right? So what does aman mean? And how is aman properly translated in the Hebrew Bible into English? Then we should update the dictionary meaning of pisteuo to have at least the Hebrew meaning for aman which was equated in 257 BC with pisteo, right?
What Does Aman Mean in Hebrew Bible?
According to world-class scholar Jeff Benner in his Ancient Hebrew Dictionary (Foreign Language Study, 2009) at 69 he says the "Hebrew root word aman means firm, something that is supported and secure." Benner points out aman is used in Isaiah 22: 23 for a nail that is fastened "to a secure place." Benner later mentions aman again, and shows how it is erroneously translated as "believe," which he puts gingerly. At page 70 he writes: "The root of this word [emet] is aman, a word often translated as believe, but more literally means 'support,' as we see in Isaiah 22:23." Benner adds that "a belief in Elohiym is not a mental exercise of knowing Elohiym exists but rather our responsibility to show him our support." Id., at 70.
Another related word to consider is emunah which often is translated as 'believe' in English, but should not. Benner says that it derives from aman. He explains:
Derived from this root [aman] is the word emun, meaning craftsman. A crafstman is one who is firm and secure in his talent. The feminine form of emun is emunah, meaning firmness, something or someone who is firm in their actions. When the word emunah is translated as 'faith,' as it often is, misconceptions of its meaning occurs. Faith is usually perceived as a knowing while the Hebrew emunah is a firm action. To have faith in Elohiym is not knowing Elohiym exists or knowing he will act, rather it is that the one with emunah will act with firmness toward Elohiym's will." Id., at 69.
Hence, we read in Psalm 33:4 of God "all his work is done in faithfulness (be-emunah)." (Louis Jacobs, Faith (Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2008) at 7.
Pauline Bias In This Area
As we proceed, we must be on guard from the incessant Pauline bias in this area. The reason is a Pauline bias will equate aman to "faith" because they know Paul used pisteuo for a translation of the Hebrew aman in Isaiah 28:16 (following the Septuagint translation of 257 BC), and they wish aman to mean faith. And even if pistos means trust or obedience more than faith, they equate and conflate trust and faith (mere belief) when they are very different.
As Claude Tresmontant in Hebrew Christ: Language in the Age of the Gospel (1989) explains at 151 "we moderns who speak about 'believing' and 'faith' are off the mark as far as the original meaning of these concepts."
Claude says Paul has "played on the various meanings of the derivation of the Hebrew word aman," but "this is not immediately evident in the Greek translation." Id., at 228. Claude also decries "the error, distortion, falsification...when the Greek word pistis was translated as faith." Id., at 93.
The reason is that aman conveys a trust, steadfastness that mere belief would never convey, and thus Paul's use of a quote of Isaiah 28:16 with the word pisteuo, unless rendered as 'steadfast following,' or 'obeying,' is misleading.
Here is an example of the problem of such blind bias from a typical popular author who defines aman very different from pisteuo, and while defining pisteuo to only mean faith, then equates it to aman, evidently aware of Paul's translation of Isaiah 28:16's aman as pisteuon. The author ignores they are totally different, and pretends aman is saying the same thing as pisteuo, and then pretends trust in is the same as faith:
What is Faith?
...The Hebrew root word [for faith] is aman which means "to support, to foster as a parent, to render firm and permanent, to go to the right hand." The Greek word for "faith" is pistos, and means to "trust, to trust in." (Tiffany Schmigotzki, Cheryl Gesing, Undiscovered Treasure, at page 36.)
This completely fails to see the words on the page, and does not carefully distinguish the word meanings. To render something 'firm' as aman conveys a meaning of pisteuo that is more than simply a belief, and probably more than even simple trust. Aman conveys one is now a follower, one steadfastly following God, and not simply intellectually assenting something is true or will happen.
Faith-Alone Translations Are Modern Sadducees With Same Error Jesus Exposed
The Sadducees were so literal that they sucked the life out of the meaning of words. The Sadducees read the Law as never talking about eternal life. Adam's loss was supposedly permanent, and thus the Sadducees taught we die when we die. However, Jesus said, by the present tense name use of Jacob, Abraham, etc., God implied that He was the God of living beings, not dead and permanently gone ones. Thus, Jesus poured life into the meaning of God's repeated reference that He was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God is not the God of dead men, but of living men -- men sharing presence with God at that time -- their spirits.
Likewise, modern adherents of faith alone, always read Pistis the noun, Pistos the adjective, and Pisteuo the verb as "belief" "faithful" (which means obedient, but the "faith" component is used to justify a faith-spin), and "believe. They use the most narrow meaning despite the overwhelming evidence now that the Septuagint did not mean to convey the lowest most narrow element of faith alone, but the entire meaning of the word -- obedience, compliance, trust as well as acknowledgment -- and not merely the latter.
A usage of "trust" in New Testament is clear in John 2:24. "Knowing the temperment of men, Jesus did not trust (pisteuo) himself to" them. In Habakkuk 2:4, in the Septuagint B version, it is pisteos (noun), and necessarily means "faithfulness" because it refers to something God has. Since God cannot have faith in himself, it necessarily means God has "faithfulness" toward the righteous. See Romans Galatians Commentary (Zondervan: 2011) at 597.
Pistis - Greek Mythology
In Greek, mythology, Pistis is a proper noun to signify a spirit-person who is trustworthy, has good faith, etc., who escaped Pandora's box. She is symbolized in Roman mythology by a person named Fides in Latin culture. Here is a Wikipedia article about Pistis.
In Greek mythology, Pistis[pronunciation?] (Π?στις) was the personification of good faith, trust and reliability. She is mentioned together with such other personifications as Elpis(Hope), Sophrosyne (Prudence), and the Charites, who were all associated with honesty and harmony among people.
Her Roman equivalent was Fides, a personified concept significant in Roman culture.
Additionally, a close linkage between pistis and persuasion developed through the discussion of faith and was further morphed by an understanding of pistis as a rhetorical technique.
Listen also to this key discussion in a Theological Dictionary called the Theoi Project that explains Pistis was a spirit being symbolizing Trust, honesty and good faith, and thus FAITH in this sense was an Actor, not an intellectual event. Paul was involved in the theater, and perhaps he borrowed the Literary meaning of PISTIS more than its literal meaning. Here is what Theoi Project records in its article Pistis:
PISTIS was the spirit (daimona) of trust, honesty and good faith. She was one of the good spirits who escaped Pandora's box and fled back to heaven abandoning mankind. Her Roman name was Fides, and her opposite number Apate (Deception) and the Pseudologoi (Lies).
|Perhaps a daughter of ZEUS, though nowhere stated
Theognis, Fragment 1. 1135 (trans. Gerber, Vol. Greek Elegiac) (Greek elegy C6th B.C.) :
"Elpis (Hope) is the only good god remaining among mankind; the others have left and gone to Olympos. Pistis (Trust), a mighty god has gone, Sophrosyne (Restraint) has gone from men, and the Kharites (Charites, Graces), my friend, have abandoned the earth. Men's judicial oaths are no longer to be trusted, nor does anyone revere the immortal gods; the race of pious men has perished and men no longer recognize the rules of conduct or acts of piety."
Ovid, Metamorphoses 5. 43 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[King Kepheus' (Cepheus') brother Phineus attempts to kill Perseus when the hero is awarded his fiancé Andromeda:] Cepheus left the hall, calling Fides [Pistis, Faith], Jus [Dike, Justice] and the Di Hospitii (Gods of Hospitality) to bear him witness that what was done defied his word and will."
Statius, Thebaid 11. 98 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"[One Erinys addresses another:] ‘'Tis no common fray or Martian battle we prepare, but brothers--though kindly Fides [Pistis, Faith] and Pietas [Eusebia, Duty] resist [the brothers engaging one another in battle], they will be o'ercome.’"
- Greek Elegaic Theognis, Fragments – Greek Elegaic C6th B.C.
- Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
- Statius, Thebaid - Latin Epic C1st A.D.