Well, I have just removed my last post on faith because I have realised it is terribly worded - so terribly it is really just plain wrong. I have realised that the closest word I can think of that conveys the meaning of the Greek noun 'pistis' is 'devotion'. I think this what is meant by fidelity/faithfulness = 'pistis' - it's got nothing to do with a head belief! Likewise, the verb 'pisteou' would mean 'being devoted'.
I have come to this realisation as I am writing my own verse-by-verse paraphrase of Romans. Interpreting it as devotion suddenly makes Romans make a whole lot more sense. And after having beeing thinking about it for the last hour - it makes a truck load more sense throughout the whole NT.
I don't have time to get it all down here now, it will take me days to get all this together. Sure, it sounds like heresy to say we aren't saved by 'a belief' - but I think deep down we know there has to be more to it than that. Devotion is what it's all really about. So where the bible talks of 'faith' - it means devotion. And most of the time when it talks about 'believing' it's meaning being devoted.
As I am doing my paraphrase of Romans and flicking through the rest of the NT with this in mind, everything seems to make far more sense. No longer am I saved by some airy-fairy, wishy-washy thought in my head that I doubt many Christians can understand - but rather I am saved by something I can fully understand, by being devoted to God.
There are several other Greek words for 'belief' - but no other words for devotion apart from 'pistis' and its few derivatives. Surely if the writers of the NT had meant 'belief' they would have written the words for that, like the word for 'convicton of the truth of something'. But instead they wrote 'pistis'.
I don't have time to explain all the details of this... but the thing that scares me is: why on earth has the interpretation of this word gone so wrong? I am without doubt that it has. But don't just 'believe me' =), Go and read some NT with this interpretation in mind - see for yourself how the sentences and arguments make more sense! For instance, what is devotion without actions that come from being devoted? (James) Why did Jesus say that the soldier had the greatest devotion He had seen in Jerusalem? Surely soldiers know how to be devoted! Abraham didn't have a clue about Jesus - he had not belief regarding Jesus - but he was devoted to God. I could go on and on!
So, once I fix up my last post on 'faith' I'll re-post it with hopefully a good discussion of why I think it means 'devotion', end some things it means for the Christian 'faith' (that is, devotion). I haven't worked all this out yet - but I'm learning a whole lot. It's especially interesting to see how 'devotion' does indeed complete Mosaic Law, rather than effectively throwing it out the window. Paul's writings make sense! Yeay!