The Greek text of the Textus Receptus (1550) states,

ΚΒʹ δικαιοσύνη δὲ θεοῦ διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς πάντας καὶ ἐπὶ πάντας τοὺς πιστεύοντας οὐ γάρ ἐστιν διαστολή TR, 1550

which Jerome translated into Latin as,

XXII iustitia autem Dei per fidem Iesu Christi super omnes qui credunt non enim est distinctio Vul

In English, it would be acceptable to translate διὰ πίστεως as “by [the] faith of” and τοὺς πιστεύοντας as “those who have faith,” thus emphasizing the similarity in the Greek stem πιστ-.

I noticed that Jerome translated πίστεως into Latin as fidem, from the lemma fidēs, but using a different root altogether, he translated τοὺς πιστεύοντας into Latin as qui credunt.

Rather than crēdunt from the lemma crēdō, why didn’t Jerome instead use fīdunt from the lemma fīdo?

2 Answers 2


All translation involves some form of (hopefully minimized) loss and (hopefully undistracting) gain.

In this case, though, the choice is clear, for a very simple reason: fido is not a good translation of πιστεύω, when it simply means "believe."

Greek πιστεύω has a range of meanings, including "trust," "believe," and "entrust": credo captures all of these meanings, while fido only captures a small part.

My (inexhaustive) look at a parallel text seems to show that the same Latin words were always used to translate these related "pist-" words from Greek:

  • πίστις => fides
  • πιστός => fidelis
  • πιστεύω => credere

It is worth noting that credere was originally a financial term, and that a creditum was a "loan." Although it is the only appropriate translation for πιστεύω, it was necessary to hearken to fides/elis for the corresponding Greek terms

Jerome uses confido either to translate "θαρσεῖτε" (Jn 16:33) or "πείθεσθαί" (Rom 14:14), which unlike πιστεύω does not include the "believe" meaning.


You can't really get into the mind of a particular author, and I do not believe Jerome ever commented on this point, but a couple notes should suffice. First, Jerome is writing for the common person, and it doesn't seem as if fidere is all that common a word. You can see for yourself how common credere is compared to fidere

It's not just this passage, it's most of the passages in the Vulgate.

Moreover, good translation practice both then and today did and does not adhere to the idea that related words must be translated using the same root. While Jerome is fairly literal much of the time, the Latin would be incomprehensible if it strictly translated "literally" the Greek/Hebrew.

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