The phrase "Faith in Christ" can also be translated "Faith of Christ" (or "Faithfulness of Christ" [NET]):
- In the older school of translations of the Bible into English (I'll call them the "King James school" of translations), almost every example of "pistis Christos" is rendered "the Faith of Christ" (the subjective genetive translation)
- In the vast majority of modern translations (I'll call them the "Modern school") the same phrase is rendered as "[your] Faith in Christ". (the objective genetive translation)
- There are a few translations that waver between the two possibilities, depending on the exact verse involved, trying to bring the context to bear - the NET is an example of this.
See the section below for more detail on the Greek formulations of "Faith in Christ", and the last section for some examples of the different translations. This question only addresses the 3rd type where "en" or "eis" in Greek is not present.
Is there any way to understand why or how this general shift occurred from translating these Greek phrases from "the Faith of Christ" to "[your] Faith in Christ" for the majority of modern translations?
Different Greek formulations for "Faith in/of Christ" in the New Testament
In trying to understand the term "Faith" in the Bible, I have come across several different underlying Greek phrases:
- En Pistis Christos: Faith located inside of Christ, or with Christ as the source of the faith. i.e. you have the faith because you are joined with Christ or "in Christ".
- Eis Pistis Christos: Faith into or toward Christ, with the direction of the faith being the key, rather than Christ being the object of the faith. I still do not fully understand the meaning of this one.
- Pistis Christos: (by itself with no article): This can be translated either:
- "[your] Faith in Christ", which means [you] trust in Christ or some aspect of his character (Christ or what he does is the object of the faith). This is technically called the objective genitive translation.
- "the Faith of Christ" [or sometimes, "the faithfulness of Christ"], meaning the faith that Christ has in some other object (such as God the Father). This is technically called the subjective genitive translation.
Sometimes there are other variations which I'm not enough of a Greek scholar to really speak to, but just about any time faith is not paired with Christ in relationship to faith, the passage is less clear as to the core meaning of faith in that instance, compared with passages that include Christ.
This question is regarding the #3 type of faith only, and only those cases that also mention faith's relationship to Christ. In #3, the Greek allows both "Faith in Christ" and "Faith of Christ" as correct translations, and neither is preferred on it's own - only context can give us clues as to which the correct interpretation is.
1. Romans 3:22.
The KJV indicates that righteousness is applied to us because of the faith that Jesus had (or really, carried out):
21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested , being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe : for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned , and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:21-23, KJV)
- The NET sides with KJV in this case, making it explicit that it is the action of what Christ did by changing it from "faith of Christ" to "faithfulness of Christ" (his faithfulness in carrying out the Father's plan for his death and resurrection, etc.):
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed – 22 namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:21-23, NET)
Both the NIV and NASB are examples of the modern school's translation making the application of righteousness into a dependency on the individual believer's faith or trust with Jesus as the object of that faith:
21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:21-23, NIV)
21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:21-23, NASB)
2. Galatians 2:16
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no * flesh be justified. (Galatians 2:16, KJV)
16 yet we know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ (Galatians 2:16, NET)
16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no * flesh will be justified. (Galatians 2:16, NASB)
So, again, what is the reason for this shift in most modern translations away from "Faith of Christ" in Romans 3:22, Gal 2:16 and similar verses?
Is it due to textual criticism (correction from a comment: textual analysis)? Shifts in theology/doctrine? A better understanding of Koine Greek? Something else?
Also Note: The NET has some pretty extensive footnotes on most of these cases that expound upon the various ancient textual variants and different possible interpretations with the reasoning why they went the way they did.