Sigurd Grindheim, «Faith in Jesus: The Historical Jesus and the Object of Faith», Vol. 97 (2016) 79-100
Did Jesus call his followers to believe in him? or did he merely call them to believe in God or in the contents of his teaching? This article examines the evidence found in the Synoptic Gospels and discusses its possible Christological implications in light of the Scriptures of Israel and the writings of Second Temple Judaism. If Jesus expected to be the object of his disciples’ faith, his expectation may be understood in light of his redefinition of messiahship. But he may also be seen to have placed himself in the role of God, who was the object of Israel’s faith in the Scriptures of Israel and in Second Temple Judaism.
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Faith in Jesus 87
that leaves us with a single source for the reference to faith, mark
9,42, on which matthew would have been dependent. if the two words
“in me” (eivj evme,) are deemed inauthentic on text-critical grounds in
mark 9,42, they are likely to be attributed to matthean redaction. By
the criterion of dissimilarity, this phrase may also be challenged, as it
is characteristic of christian terminology (cf. acts 19,18; eph 1,19;
2 thess 1,10) 18.
t. W. manson thought that he could account for the development
of the tradition: “the little ones” is the original form, and it referred to
children. the early church was more interested in disciples than in
children and therefore gradually changed the saying so that it unam-
biguously referred to believers 19. this reconstruction of the develop-
ment in the early church does not find univocal support in the synop-
tic evidence. positive references to children abound (mark 9,33-37
par.; 10,13-16 par.; matt 11,25 par.; 21,15-16).
this last claim is worth examining a little further. in the early writ-
ings of the new testament, before the Johannine literature, explicit
references to faith in Jesus are surprisingly rare. they do occur, but
the more common practice is to refer to “faith” without qualification.
in the evidence that has the best claim to antedate mark and the double
tradition, the undisputed letters of paul, the verb pisteu,w occurs 42
times. in 20 cases, it is used without specifying the object of faith 20.
By comparison, there are only two instances in which paul specifies
christ as the object of pisteu,w (Gal 2,16; phil 1,29). in both examples,
e. lohmeYeR, Das Evangelium des Markus (KeK; Göttingen 1959) 196;
e. schWeiZeR, The Good News According to Matthew (trans. D.e. GReen; at-
lanta, Ga 1975) 365; GnilKa, Matthäusevangelium, ii, 128; DaVies – allison,
Matthew, ii, 761; J.p. meieR, A Marginal Jew. Rethinking the historical Jesus.
mentor, message, and miracles (aBRl; new York 1994) ii, 542; Dunn, Jesus
Remembered, 501; GReGG, Final Judgment, 247. craig a. evans judges the two
words eivj evme, to be the result of christian redaction. he maintains that Jesus pro-
claimed faith in the gospel (mark 1,15), not in the resurrected christ (Mark 8:27
– 16:20, 69; similarly JeRemias, New Testament Theology, 162; Goppelt, Theo-
logy, i, 150). eduard schweizer postulates a similar development, but maintains
that “the little ones” originally referred to disciples. mark added “who believe”
to clarify the meaning, when this term was no longer correctly understood (The
Good News According to Mark [trans. D.h. maDViG; atlanta, Ga 1970] 198).
several scholars understand the saying to refer to believing children in the Gospel
of mark (GunDRY, Mark, 524; YaRBRo collins, Mark, 450).
t.W. manson, The Sayings of Jesus (london, 1957) 138.
Rom 1,16; 3,22; 4,11; 10,4.10; 13,11; 14,2; 15,13; 1 cor 1,21; 3,5;
14,22(2x); 15,2.11; 2 cor 4,13(2x); Gal 3,22; 1 thess 1,7; 2,10.13.