The State of Faith

In the last five years or so, there has been a huge shift in New Testament scholarship on the meaning of faith during that era. Researchers have begun to recognize that faith in the New Testament and the ancient world it was part of was not primarily about belief, that is “mental assent” to a set of propositions or even a personal “cognitive” or “psychological” state. While not denying that there is certainly an aspect of the inner state of mind, faith was primarily about relationships between people and manifest displays of trust and loyalty. In other words, when it came to faith, there was a great emphasis on external behaviour rather than just inner beliefs.

In the article Pistis (Faith) Conversations in New Testament Scholarship, New Testament scholar Nijay K. Gupta gives a concise overview of the current understanding of faith in scholarship, highlighting the work of the major contributors in this revolution in a highly accessible manner for lay folk. I have already covered the leading figures on the topics Teresa Morgan and Matthew Bates. As Gupta mentions in his article, he has also made contributions on the subject in his 2020 book Paul and the Language of Faith (Eerdmans) in which he explores how Paul uses faith in different, often subtle, ways and not just as  “belief”. A particularly interesting connection he makes is between “faith” and “covenant”. There is a good interview over at OnScript podcast covering his work which you can find here. as well as a video interview which you can view below. Another important work mentioned in the article is Downs and Lappenga’s The Faithfulness of the Risen Christ (Baylor University Press, 2020). Their work makes a meaningful contribution to the thorny debate over whether the proper translation is “faith in Christ” or the “faithfulness of Christ” when Paul talks about the “faith of Christ”. Again, OnScript podcast provides another helpful interview covering their work which you can listen to hear.

Nijay K. Gupta – Paul and the Language of Faith (OnScript)

“Paul and the Language of Faith” Virtual Book Launch with Nijay K. Gupta (Regent College, Vancouver)

David Downs & Benjamin Lappenga – The Faithfulness of the Risen Christ (OnScript)

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