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STUDY OF RARE WORDS.
It is well known that, in all languages, the origin of many words has become utterly lost. The wonder, indeed, Rare words, is that we are able to trace the etymology of such a and åtag heylarge proportion. The extensive literature of the Greek Oueva. language enables the New Testament interpreter to ascertain without much difficulty the roots and usage of most of the words with which he has to deal. But the Old Testament Scriptures embody substantially all the remains of the Hebrew language, and when we meet with a word which occurs but once in the entire literature extant, we may often be puzzled to know the exact meaning which it was intended to convey. In such cases help from cognate tongues is particularly important. The word oso, in Gen. xxviii
, 12, occurs nowhere else in Hebrew. The root appears to be 5sp, to cast up, to raise; and from the same root comes the word møop, used of public highways (Judg. xx, 32; Isa. xl, 3; lxii, 10), the paths of locusts (Joel ii, 8), the courses of the stars (Judg. v, 20), and terraces or stairways to the temple (2 Chron. ix, 11). The Arabic word sullum confirms the sense of stairway or ladder, and leaves no reasonable doubt as to the meaning of sullam in Gen. xxviii, 12. Jacob saw, in his dream, an elevated ladder or stairway reaching from the earth to the heavens. In determining the sense of such araç heyoueva, or words occurring but once, we have to be guided by the context, by analogy of kindred roots, if any appear in the language, by ancient versions of the word in other languages, and by whatever traces of the word may be found in cognate tongues.
One of the most noted of New Testament änaš neyoueva is the word étrovolov in the Lord's prayer, Matt. vi, 11; Luke
Επιούσιος. xi, 3. It occurs nowhere else in Greek literature. Two derivations have been urged, one from été and léval, or the participle of ÉTelu, to go toward or approach ; according to which the meaning would be, “give us our coming bread,” that is, bread for the coming day; to-morrow's bread. This is etymologically possible, and, on the ground of analogy, has much in its favour. But this meaning does not accord with onuepov, this day, occurring in the same verse, nor with our Lord's teaching in verse 34 of the same chapter. The other derivation is from éri and ovoia, existence, subsistence (from eiuí, to be), and means that which is necessary for existence, “our essential bread.” This latter seems by far the more appropriate meaning.
Another difficult word is TLOTLKÓS, used only in Mark xiv, 3, and John xii, 3, to describe the nard (vápdos) with which
IILOTLKÓG. Mary anointed the feet of Jesus. It is found in manuscripts of several Greek authors (Plato, Gorgias, 455 a.; Aristotle,
Rhet. i, 2) apparently as a false reading for TTELOTIKÓS, persuasive; but this signification would have no relevancy to nard. Scaliger proposed the meaning pounded nard, deriving TrLOTIKOS from prioow, to pound, a possible derivation, but unsupported by any thing anal. ogous. Some think the word may be a proper adjective denoting the place from which the nard came; i. e., Pistic nard. The Vulgate of John xii, 3, has nardi pistici. This use of the word, however, is altogether uncertain. The Vulgate of Mark xiv, 3, has spicati, as denoting the spikes or ears of the nard plant; hence the word spikenard. But there is no good ground for accepting this interpretation. Many derive the word from nivo (or Triokw), to drink, and understand drinkable or liquid nard, and urge that several ancient writers affirm that certain anointing oils were used for drinking If such were the meaning here, however, the word should refer to the ointment (uúpov), not the nard. The explanation best suited to the context, and not without warrant in Greek usage, makes the word equivalent to TTLOTÓS, faithful, trustworthy; applied to a material object it would naturally signify genuine, pure, that on which one can rely.
In determining the meaning of compound words we may usually resort to the lexical and grammatical analogy of lan- Compound guages. The signification of a compound expression is words. generally apparent from the import of the different terms of which it is compounded. Thus, the word elonvorroioí, used in Matt. v, 9, is at once seen to be composed of sipövn, peace, and tolów, to make, and signifies those who make (work or establish) peace. The meaning, says Meyer, is “not the peaceful (eionulkoi, James iii, 17; 2 Macc. v, 25; or kionvevovTES, Sirach vi, 7), a meaning which does not appear even in Pollux, i, 41, 152 (Augustine thinks of the moral inner harmony; De Wette, of the inclination of the contemporaries of Jesus to war and tumult; Bleek reminds us of Jewish party hatred); but the founders of peace (Xen. Hist. Gr., vi, 3, 4; Plut. Mor., p. 279 B.; comp. Col. i, 20; Prov. x, 10), who as such minister to God's good pleasure, who is the God of peace (Rom. xvi, 20; 2 Cor. xiii, 11), as Christ himself was the highest founder of peace (Luke ii, 14; John xvi, 33; Eph. ii, 14).”1 Similarly we judge of the meaning of égenoJonokeia in Col. ii, 23, compounded of Véhw and Jonoksia, and signifying will worship, self-chosen worship; Tolbotlayxvoç, very compassionate (James v, 11); ovvavšávqual, to grow together with (Matt. xiii, 30); Tootropopéw, to bear as a nourisher (Acts xiii, 18), and many other compounds, which, like the above, occur but once in the New Testament.
*Critical and Exegetical Hand-book to the Gospel of Matthew, in loco.
USAGE OF WORDS.
THE USUS LOQUENDI.
SOME words have a variety of significations, and hence, whatever their primitive meaning, we are obliged to gather from the context, and from familiarity with the usage of the language, the particular sense which they bear in a given passage of Scripture. Many a word in common use has lost its original meaning.
The meaning of How few of those who daily use the word sincere are words becomes
changed. aware that it was originally applied to pure honey, from which all wax was purged. Composed of the Latin words sine, without, and cera, wax, it appears to have been first used of honey strained or separated from the wax-like comb. The word cunning no longer means knowledge, or honourable skill, but is generally used in a bad sense, as implying artful trickery. The verb let has come to mean the very opposite of what it once did, namely to hinder; and prevent, which was formerly used in the sense of going before, so as to prepare the way or assist one, now means to intercept or obstruct. Hence the importance of attending to what is commonly called the usus loquendi, or current usage of words as employed by a particular writer, or prevalent in a particular age. It often happens, also, that a writer uses a common word in some special and peculiar sense, and then his own definitions must be taken, or the context and scope must be consulted, in order to determine the precise meaning intended.
There are many ways by which the usus loquendi of a writer may be ascertained. The first and simplest is when he himself defines the terms he uses. Thus the word defines his own åptios, perfect, complete, occurring only in 2 Tim. iii, 17, is defined by what immediately follows: “That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work.” That is, he is made perfect or complete in this, that he is thoroughly furnished and fitted, by the varied uses of the inspired Scripture, to go forward unto the accomplishment of every good work. We also find the word Tédelol, commonly rendered perfect, defined in Heb. v, 14, as those “who by practice have the senses trained unto a discrimination of good and of evil.” They are, accordingly, the mature and experienced Christians as distinguished from babes, výtrLOL.
Compare verse 13, and 1 Cor. ii, 6. So also, in Rom. ïi, 28, 29, the apostle defines the genuine Jew and genuine circumcision as follows: "For he is not a Jew, who is one outwardly (ềv TỘ pavepõ); nor is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, who is one inwardly (év TÔ KPUTTÓ); and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
But the immediate context, no less than the writer's own definiImmediate
tions, generally serves to exhibit any peculiar usage of
words. Thus, TrvEõua, wind, spirit, is used in the New Testament to denote the wind (John iii, 8), the vital breath (Rev. xi, 11), the natural disposition or temper of mind (Luke ix, 55; Gal. vi, 1), the life principle or immortal nature of man (John vi, 63), the perfected spirit of a saint in the heavenly life (Heb. xii, 23), the unclean spirits of demons (Matt. x, 1; Luke iv, 36), and the Holy Spirit of God (John iv, 24; Matt. xxviii, 19; Rom. viii, 9–11). It needs but a simple attention to the context, in any of these passages, to determine the particular sense in which the word is used. In John iii, 8, we note the two different meanings of tveõua in one and the same verse. “The wind (TÒ atveõua) blows where it will, and the sound of it thou hearest; but thou knowest not whence it comes and whither it goes; so is every one who is born of the Spirit” (ÉK TOŨ TrVetuatos). Bengel holds, indeed, that we should here render tveïna in both instances by spirit, and he urges that the divine Spirit, and not the wind, has a will and a voice. But the great body of interpreters maintain the common version. Nicodemus was curious and perplexed to know the how (tūs, verses 4 and 9) of the Holy Spirit's workings, and as the Almighty of old spoke to Job out of the whirlwind, and appealed to the manifold mysteries of nature in vindication of his ways, so here the Son of God appeals to the mystery in the motion of the wind. “ Wouldst thou know the whence and whither of the Spirit, and yet thou knowest not the origin and the end of the common wind ? Wherefore dost thou not marvel concerning the air which breathes around thee, and of which thou livest?”“Our Lord,” says Alford,“ might have chosen any of the mysteries of nature to illustrate the point. He takes that one which is above others symbolic of the action of the Spirit, and which in both languages, that in which he spoke, as well as that in which his speech is reported, is expressed by the same word. So that the words as they stand apply themselves at once to the Spirit and his working, without any figure.' * Gnomon of the New Testament, in loco. Comp. Stier, Words of the Lord Jesus, in loco. 3 Greek Testament, in loco.
The word oroixelov, used in classical Greek for the upright post of a sundial, then for an elementary sound in language (from letters standing in rows), came to be used almost solely in the plural, Tà Otoixeia, in the sense of elements or rudiments. In 2 Pet. iii, 10 it evidently denotes the elements of nature, the component parts of the physical universe; but in Gal. iv, 3, 9, as the immediate context shows, it denotes the ceremonials of Judaism, considered as elementary object lessons, adapted to the capacity of children. In this sense the word may also denote the ceremonial elements in the religious cultus of the heathen world (compare verse 8).' The enlightened Christian should grow out of these, and pass beyond them, for otherwise they trammel, and become a system of bondage. Compare also the use of the word in Col. ii, 8, 20 and Heb. v, 12.
In connexion with the immediate context, the nature of the subject may also determine the usage of a word. Thus, in Nature of the 2 Cor. v, 1, 2, the reference of the words oikia, house, subject. oknvos, tabernacle, olkodoun, building, and olknToLov, habitation, to the body as a covering of the soul hardly admits of question. The whole passage (verses 1-4) reads literally thus: "For we know that if our house of the tabernacle upon earth were dissolved,
2 Cor. v, 1-4. a building from God we have, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens. For also in this we groan, yearning to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven, since indeed also (elye kai) being clothed we shall not be found naked. For, indeed, we who are in the tabernacle groan, being burdened, in that we would not be unclothed, but clothed upon, to the end that that which is mortal may be swallowed up by the life.” Hodge holds that the “building from God” is heaven itself, and argues that in John xiv, 2, heaven is compared to a house of many mansions; in Luke xvi, 9, to a habitation; and in Heb. xi, 10, and Rev. xxi, 10, to a city of dwellings. But the scripture in question is too explicit, and the nature of the subject too limited, to allow other scriptures, like those cited, to determine its meaning. No one doubts that the phrase, “our house of the tabernacle upon earth,” refers to the human body, which is liable to dissolution. It is compared to a tent, or tabernacle (okñvos), and also to a vesture, thus presenting us with a double metaphor. “The word tent,” says Stanley, “lent itself to this imagery, from being used in later Greek writers for the human body, especially in medical writers, who seem to have been led to adopt the word from the skin-materials
1 Comp. Lightfoot's Commentary on Galatians iv, 11. ? Commentary on Second Corinthians, in loco.