When thinking about our important religious words it pays to investigate what the original words of scripture meant in their original context. Kittel's "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament" is a very useful tool for getting at the original meaning of the language of the New Testament. We must try to translate that original meaning to our modern minds. This way we hear the scriptures in their "own voice."

Part of the process of truing up our understanding of "Bible words" from the way they are popularly used now, may include examining how our modern usage has developed. Here are a few entries from an online etymological dictionary that give earliest dates when a word is found being used with a specific significance.

c.1250, "duty of fulfilling one's trust," from O.Fr. feid, from L. fides "trust, belief," from root of fidere "to trust," from PIE base *bhidh-/*bhoidh- (cf. Gk. pistis; see bid). For sense evolution, see belief. Theological sense is from 1382; religions called faiths since c.1300. Faith-healer is from 1885. Old Faithful geyser named 1870 by explorer Gen. H.D. Washburn, Surveyor-General of the Montana Territory, in ref. to the regularity of its outbursts.

c.1175, replaced O.E. geleafa, from W.Gmc. *ga-laubon (cf. O.S. gilobo, M.Du. gelove, O.H.G. giloubo, Ger. glaube), from *galaub- "dear, esteemed." The prefix was altered on analogy of the verb. The distinction of the final consonant from that of believe developed 15c. Belief used to mean "trust in God," while faith meant "loyalty to a person based on promise or duty" (a sense preserved in keep one's faith, in good (or bad) faith and in common usage of faithful, faithless, which contain no notion of divinity). But faith, as cognate of L. fides, took on the religious sense beginning in 14c. translations, and belief had by 16c. become limited to "mental acceptance of something as true," from the religious use in the sense of "things held to be true as a matter of religious doctrine" (c.1225).

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