« PreviousContinue »
$ 8. Now, from the foregoing observations, it appears that the name Sidaoxałos, as being nearly equivalent in import to the appellation rabbi, for which it has been substituted by the Evangelist, may be fitly expressed, either by the English term doctor, or by the Syriac rabbi, which is now so much naturalized amongst us, that its meaning, as a Jewish title of literary honour, can hardly be mistaken. In the addresses made to our Lord in his lifetime, the Syriac term is surely preferable; the English word, though very apposite in respect of its origin, and ordinary acceptation, has considerably sunk in its value, in consequence of the slight manner wherein we are accustomed to hear it applied. But we all know that rabbi among the Jews of that age was a title in the highest degree respectful, and on that account interdicted by their Master, even to the Apostles themselves. It is also the word by which didacκαλος is commonly rendered in the Syriac version of the New Testament, justly held the most respectable of all the translations extant, as being both the oldest, and written in a language not materially different from that spoken by our Lord and his Apostles. The difference appears not to be greater (if so great) than that which we observe between the Attic and the Ionic dialects in Greek. But when didaoxazos is construed with other words, which either limit or appropriate it, we commonly judge it better to render it teacher, according to the simple and primitive signification of the word. In such cases it is pro
bable, that the writer alludes merely to what is usually implied in the Greek term. So much for the import of rabbi or Sidaoxados in the New Testament.
§ 9. Now, when we compare the titles kyrios and didascalos together, in respect of the Jewish use and application of them, we find several remarkable differences between them. From our modes of thinking, we should be apt to conclude, that the former of these appellations would be much the more honourable of the two. Yet this is far from holding generally, though, in particular cases, it no doubt does. In regard to the term kyrios, I observed formerly, that as it originally signified master, as opposed to servant, it retained in that nation, in our Saviour's time, so much of its primitive meaning, as to be always understood to imply, in the person who gave the title, an acknowledged inferiority to him to whom it was given. Civility might lead a man to give it to his equal. But to give it to one who, either in the order of nature, or by human conventions, was considered as inferior and subordinate, would have looked more like an insult, than like a compliment. Hence it must be regarded as a term purely relative, which derived its value solely from the dignity of the person who seriously bestowed it. To be entitled to this compellation from a monarch neither tributary nor dependent, denoted him who received it to be superior to human. But no useful
citizen was so low as not to be entitled to this mark of respect from a common beggar. And, as its value in every instance depended solely on the dignity of the giver, it might be either the most honourable title that could be conferred, or the most insignificant. The use of the title rabbi, didascalos, or doctor, was, in this respect, totally different. As it was understood to express not relation, but certain permanent qualifications in the person who received it, they did not consider it as a matter of courtesy, but as a matter of right. It was not relative but absolute. The same person did not (as was the case of kyrios) consider himself as obliged to give it to one, and entitled to receive it from another. Whoever had this literary degree conferred on him, was entitled to receive the honourable compellation equally from all persons, superiors, inferiors, and equals. And we need not doubt that this vain-glorious race would brand with the ignominious character of rusticity all who withheld it.
$ 10. Hence we may discover the reason why our Lord, when warning his disciples 82 against imitating the ostentation and presumption of the Scribes and Pharisees, in affecting to be denominated rabbi, father, guide, or conductor, does not once mention kyrios, though, of all titles of respect, the most com
It is manifest that his view was not to prohibit them from giving or receiving the common marks
of civility, but to check them from arrogating what might seem to imply a superiority in wisdom and understanding over others, and a title to dictate to their fellows-a species of arrogance which appeared but too plainly in the Scribes and learned men of those days.
As to the title kyrios, he knew well that from their worldly situation and circumstances (which in this matter were the only rule), they could expect it from none but those in the lowest ranks, who would as readily give it to an artisan or a peasant, and that therefore there could be no danger of vanity from this quarter. But the case was different with titles expressive not of feeting relations, but of those important qualifications which denote a fitness for being the lights and conductors of the human
The title father, in the spiritual or metaphoric sense, the most respectful of all, he prohibits his disciples from either assuming or giving, chusing that it should be appropriated to God; and at the same time claims the title of guide and spiritual instructer to himself.
g 11. Nor let it be imagined thạt the title Sidaoκαλοι, bestowed on the first ministers of the religion of Christ, stands in opposition to the admonitions here given. The word, it must be owned, is equi. vocal, but is every where easily distinguished by the connection ; for when it is applied to such as are li terally employed in teaching, it must not be understood as a complimental title answering to the Chaldaic word rabbi, but as a name of office correspond
ing to the Hebrew word tan melammed, teacher, preceptor. Besides, when applied even to the Apos. tles, it is to be understood in a subordinate sense. They are in like manner called shepherds, but still in subordination to him who is the chief Shepherd, as well as the chief Teacher in his church. Christ is called the only foundation; for other foundation, says Paula, can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Yet the same Apostle does not he. sitate to represent the church 84 as built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets. Nor does he consider his styling himself the father of those in whose conversion he had been instrumental, as either incompatible with, or derogatory from, the honour of him who alone is our Father, and who is in hea. ven. When his meaning is so evident, no mistake can arise from the word. It is the spirit that quickeneth, said our Lord *5, the flesh profiteth nothing ; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. Now the spirit of the precept is transgressed, when his ministers claim an undue superio. rity over their Lord's heritage, arrogating to themselves a dominion over the faith of his disciples; and when, in consequence of an undue attachment to worldly honours, or to the power that is understood to accompany these, men become solicitous of being distinguished from their equals, either by external marks of homage, or by an implicit deference, and submission in point of judgment. With this charac
83 1 Cor. ij. 11.
Eph. ii. 20.
85 Johp, vi. 63.