I spent some time tonight writing a response to a Friend on our World Gathering of Young Friends listserve, so I figured I might as well kill two birds with one stone (if I was John Woolman...heh heh) and post that here as well.
A question was asked about Galatians 2:15-16, which a Friend heard says in the Greek "faith OF Jesus Christ" rather than "faith IN Jesus Christ," which might seem to have the connotation of us needing to have faith of the callibre of Jesus' rather than faith in him as part of God. So here's my response, although it's just a preliminary analysis of the text.
Galatians 2 (Cherice's literal translation)
15 We ourselves [are] Jews and not out of ritually unclean nations [usually translated "Gentiles"]. 16 But we knew that a person is not justified/vindicated/acquitted out of works of a law if not through faith of Jesus Christ, and we believed in Christ Jesus, so that we were justified/acquitted/vindicated out of faith of Christ and not out of works of a law. 17 But if [when] we desired to be justified/acquitted/vindicated in Christ we were found also [to be] ritually unclean ones, then is Christ an agent/intermediary to sins? Certainly not!
There are several forms of the word usually translated "sinners." This one generally means "those who are ritually unclean," often associated with their occupation because they're required to touch unclean things and therefore become unclean (shepherds, tax collectors), those born with physical defects or who have diseases, women who are pregnant or on their period, and of course anyone who's not a full-blood Jew. The term in NT times generally refers to "outsiders," those who are not accepted by the Jewish elite community because of their designation as "unclean."
Likewise, the term translated "Gentiles" literally means "the nations," and it's where we get our word "ethnic." It's a specific kind of ritually unclean person--one that can never become clean short of conversion, circumcision, etc. The English of this makes it sound really elitist and self-righteous, but I think what the author means is that he and those he's writing to were born into Judaism, so although they can follow the law, following the law is not enough for them to be "justified."
The word "justified" is difficult because we don't use it anymore in common language, so it's been relegated to the position of an antiquated religious term along with "sanctified" and "unction"[except for Peggy!] and stuff like that. I think the Greek word basically means "to be made righteous." The word as a noun means "righteous." We can't be made right by following laws alone.
Then the Jesus part...my f/Friend is right: it does say "through faith of Jesus Christ." But that's not all it says, because the very next line says "and we believed in Christ Jesus." The word for "in" here has a feeling of motion--we moved into faith in Christ, and then in verse 17 the word for "in" is a stationary word. We are fixed in our faith in Christ. The conditional clause (if-then) in 17 is more like "since now we're fixed in faith in Christ, if we're found to be ritually unclean, does that mean Christ is helping us sin? Of course not!" So he's actually making a case for not having to worry about who's "clean" and "unclean" anymore. But it's clear from the context that the author meant that people were to have faith IN Christ, not just faith like that of Christ.
But I do find it interesting to look at that phrasing and think about how watered down we (as Christians) sometimes make it--we just have to believe IN Christ, and that's enough. But this passage is also saying to have faith LIKE Christ.
One more thing: where it says "we were justified out of faith of Christ and not out of works of a law," the "out of" means "from the source of." So what it's basically saying here is that we are made right "from the source of" what made Jesus righteous, rather than from the source of the man-made law. We're not just clean because we follow some rules, but we're clean (whole, transformed, being perfected) "from of the source" that Christ was walking in, which is God. Pretty cool, eh?
This is a really interesting passage, pretty much summing up Christian belief.
It can be difficult to know who to believe when it comes to Bible translation, because things can be completely altered just because of someone's translation choices. Even as I'm learning Greek it's hard because the ways we're taught to translate various words can change the meaning, but that's the definition we're given. So unless we all want to become Greek scholars and learn all the nuances of the language, even having an introductory understanding of Greek doesn't always help a whole lot because I'm using someone else's definitions. (But if you're looking for a good English translation I suggest the New Revised Standard Version, because they try to make it as literal as possible, leaving ambiguity when it's in the text and trying not to make theological choices for the reader.)
But I think that's the beauty of it. There IS ambiguity. There IS room to think and wonder and explore. Greek is pretty ambiguous sometimes, and so we get to wonder, did the author mean A or B, or both? Plus when it was written down punctuation and spaces between words hadn't been invented yet so we're not even sure that we have that right. So we build off what scholars over the years have thought.
Even with all the ambiguity, I trust God to speak through this text. It has its flaws, and sometimes it's frustrating because we don't know what is culture and what is meant for all, and it's hard to understand. But I learned a lot just by looking at this passage for a half hour or so, and I think it helped me grow in my faith because of it. So thanks, Friend, for bringing up this topic, and giving me a chance to show how nerdy I am! =)