David G. Horrell, "Reconfiguring Early Christian ‘Faith’," 354-362
Teresa Morgan’s Roman Faith and Christian Faith provides a major new study of the lexicon of ‘faith’ (pistis/fides) in the early Roman Empire. This review essay provides a summary of the book’s contents as well as a critical assessment. The book begins with study of uses of pistis and fides in Greek and Roman sources, in domestic and personal relations, in military and religious contexts. It then moves to the Septuagint, before turning to the New Testament, which is considered in detail. The early Christian sources are unusual in the prominence and weight they give to pistis, but their usage nonetheless fits within the wider social and cultural matrix, in which pistis and fides primarily express the notion of trust and express the importance of trust and fidelity in a wide range of social and religious relationships. In these early Christian sources there is a heavy focus on divine-human pistis, but this creates networks of trusting and trustworthiness that are crucial to the formation and cohesion of early Christian communities. Some critical questions may be raised – for example, concerning Morgan’s heavy focus on divine-human pistis, and her arguments against the early emergence of a titular usage of pistis to denote the early Christian movement – but overall this is an important study which should reconfigure our sense of early Christian (and especially Pauline) pistis, which is less about ‘belief’, whether salvific or propositional, and more about relationships of trust, which are the foundation of community.