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Faith in the Bible

A unique notion

The notion of faith is unique to the Judeo-Christian tradition. Although versions of this notion exist in several cultural and religious forms outside this tradition, the epoch-making development took place in the culture originating in the Bible. This determined the character of the Christian era, and has been instrumental in shaping the sources of spiritual practice even today. Other words often translated as ‘faith’ into English have an original meaning different from our notion of faith. For instance, the word ‘islam’ is sometimes translated as ‘faith’, though its actual meaning is ‘voluntary submission to God’. This meaning is not very far from the idea of obedience as understood in Christianity. Yet the latter notion of faith is a complex and dynamically evolving idea which ‘voluntary submission’ does not quite capture entirely. Faith has synthesized many influences over the centuries and created a rich culture of spiritual, theological and philosophical reflection.1

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