Salvation By Faith Or By Faithfulness In The Book Of Habakkuk? -- By: E. Ray Clendenen
BBR 24:4 (2014) p. 505
Salvation By Faith Or By Faithfulness
In The Book Of Habakkuk?
Many scholars believe the apostle Paul violated the original meaning when he quoted Habakkuk as “the just shall live by faith” in Rom 1:17 and Gal 3:11. Against a growing consensus, I argue that ʾĕmũnâ in Hab 2:4 means “faith.” First, “faith” fits the context of the vision in vv. 2-3. Second, it was also probably the meaning in 1QpHab. Third, Paul and the author of Hebrews interpreted ʾĕmũnâ as “faith.” Fourth, ʾĕmũnâ was the natural choice if Habakkuk wanted a word for “faith,” especially if he was alluding to Gen 15:6. And finally, “faith” is the quality called for by the remainder of the book (e.g., 2:14; 3:13) and exhibited by the prophet in his concluding hymn of faith in 3:16-19.
Key Words: Habakkuk, faith, intertextuality, biblical theology, Hebrew semantics, Bible translation
Many scholars believe the apostle Paul violated the original meaning when he quoted Habakkuk as “the just shall live by faith” in Rom 1:17 and Gal 3:11. John Barton believes that “there is little likelihood that Paul has reproduced the meaning Habakkuk had in mind” and “his interpretation of this prophet . . . [is] the product of his own prior convictions about theological truth.”1 Mark Seifrid writes, “Modern translations regularly read Paul’s usage into the Hebrew text, so that ʾĕmũnâ is translated as ‘faith’ in Hab. 2:4 (e.g., NRSV, NIV, NASB, ESV2). But this rendering is illegitimate, as ʾĕmũnâ signifies fidelity, reliability, or faithfulness.”3 Several modern English translations render ʾĕmũnâ in Hab 2:4 as “faithful(ness), fidelity” (NJPSV, REB, TEV, GW, NLT, NIV , NET) or “honestly” (CEB). Some scholars interpret Habakkuk as even saying the opposite of wh...
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