Synonyms of the New Testament

Download 0.64 Mb.
Size0.64 Mb.
  1   2   3



the New Testament


Richard Chenevix Trench, D.D.


This volume, not any longer a little one, has grown out of a course of lectures on the Synonyms of the New Testament, which, in the fulfilment of my duties as Professor of Divinity at King’s College, London, I more than once addressed to the theological students there. The long, patient, and exact studies in language of our great Schools and Universities, which form so invaluable a portion of their mental, and of their moral discipline as well, could find no place during the two years or two years and a half of the theological course at King’s College. The time itself was too short to allow this, and it was in great part claimed by more pressing studies. Yet, feeling the immense value of these studies, and how unwise it would be, because we could not have all which we would desire, to forego what was possible and within our reach, I two or three times dedicated a course of lectures to the comparative value of words in the New Testament—and these lectures, with many subsequent additions and some defalcations, have supplied the materials of the present volume. I have never doubted that (setting aside those higher and more solemn lessons, which in a great measure are out of our reach to impart, being taught rather by God than men), there are few things which a theological teacher should have more at heart than to awaken in his scholars an enthusiasm for the grammar and the lexicon. We shall have done much for those who come to us for theological training and generally for mental guidance, if we can persuade them to have these continually in their hands; if we can make them believe that with these, and out of these, they may be learning more, obtaining more real and lasting acquisitions, such as will stay by them, and form a part of the texture of their own minds for ever, that they shall from these be more effectually accomplishing themselves for their future work, than from many a volume of divinity, studied before its time, even if it were worth studying at all, crudely digested and therefore turning to no true nourishment of the intellect or the spirit.

Claiming for these lectures a wider audience than at first they had, I cannot forbear to add a few observations on the value of the study of synonyms, not any longer having in my eye the peculiar needs of any special body of students, but generally; and on that of the Synonyms of the New Testament in particular; as also on the helps to the study of these which are at present in existence; with a few further remarks which my own experience has suggested.

The value of this study as a discipline for training the mind into close and accurate habits of thought, the amount of instruction which may be drawn from it, the increase of intellectual wealth which it may yield, all this has been implicitly recognized by well-nigh all great writers—for well-nigh all from time to time have paused, themselves to play the dividers and discerners of words—explicitly by not a few, who have proclaimed the value which this study had in their eyes. And instructive as in any language it must be, it must be eminently so in the Greek—a language spoken by a people of the subtlest intellect; who saw distinctions, where others saw none; who divided out to different words what others often were content to huddle confusedly under a common term; who were themselves singularly alive to its value, diligently cultivating the art of synonymous distinction (the ἀνόματα διαιρεῖν, Plato, Laches, 197 d); and who have bequeathed a multitude of fine and delicate observations on the rightdiscrimination of their own words to the after-world.1 Many will no doubt remember the excellent sport which Socrates makes of Prodicus, who was possest with this passion to an extravagant degree (Protag. 377 a b c).

And while thus the characteristic excellences of the Greek language especially invite us to the investigation of the likenesses and differences between words, to the study of the words of the New Testament there are reasons additional inviting us. If by such investigations as these we become aware of delicate variations in an author’s meaning, which otherwise we might have missed, where is it so desirable that we should miss nothing, that we should lose no finer intention of the writer, as in those words which are the vehicles of the very mind of God Himself? If thus the intellectual riches of the student are increased, can this anywhere be of so great importance as there, where the intellectual may, if rightly used, prove spiritual riches as well? If it encourage thoughtful meditation on the exact forces of words, both as they are in themselves, and in their relation to other words, or in any way unveil to us their marvel and their mystery, this can nowhere else have a worth in the least approaching that which it acquires when the words with which we have to do are, to those who receive them aright, words of eternal life; while in the dead car-cases of the same, if men suffer the spirit of life to depart from them, all manner of corruptions and heresies may be, as they have been, bred.

The words of the New Testament are eminently the στοιχεῖα of Christian theology, and he who will not begin with a patient study of those, shall never make any considerable, least of all any secure, advances in this: for here, as everywhere else, sure disappointment awaits him who thinks to possess the whole without first possessing the parts of which that whole is composed. The rhyming couplet of the Middle Ages contains a profound truth:

‘Qui nescit partes in vanum tendit ad artes;

Artes per partes, non partes disce per artes.’

Now it is the very nature and necessity of the discrimination of synonyms to compel such patient investigation of the force of words, such accurate weighing of their precise value, absolute and relative, and in this its chief merits as a mental discipline consist.

Yet when we look around us for assistance herein, neither concerning Greek synonyms in general, nor specially concerning those of the New Testament, can it be affirmed that we are even tolerably furnished with books. Whatever there may be to provoke dissent in Döderlein’s Lateinische Synonyme und Etymologieen, and there could be scarcely an error more fatally misleading than his notion that Latin was derived from Greek, there is no book on Greek synonyms which for compass and completeness can bear comparison with it; and almost all the more important modern languages of Europe have better books devoted to their synonyms than any which has been devoted to the Greek. The works of the early grammarians, as of Ammonius and others, supply a certain amount of valuable material, but cannot be said even remotely to meet the needs of the student at the present day. Vömel’s Synonymisches Wörterbuch, Frankfurt, 1822, excellent as far as it goes, but at the same time a school-book and no more, and Pillon’s Synonymes Grecs, of which a translation into English was edited by the late T. K. Arnold, London, 1850, are the only modern attempts to supply the deficiency; at least I am not aware of any other. But neither of these writers has allowed himself space to enter on his subject with any fulness and completeness: not to say that references to the synonyms of the New Testament are exceedingly rare in Vömel; and, though somewhat more frequent in Pillon’s work, are capricious and uncertain there, and in general of a meagre and unsatisfactory description.

The only book dedicated expressly and exclusively to these is one written in Latin by J. A. H. Tittmann, De Synonymis in Novo Testamento, Leipsic, 1829, 1832. It would ill become me, and I have certainly no intention, to speak slightingly of the work of a most estimable man, and a good scholar—above all, when that work is one from which I have derived some, if not a great deal of assistance, and such as I most willingly acknowledge. Yet the fact that we are offering a book on the same subject as a preceding author; and may thus lie under, or seem to others to lie under, the temptation of unduly claiming for the ground which we would occupy, that it is not solidly occupied already; this must not wholly shut our mouths from pointing out what may appear to us deficiencies or shortcomings on his part. And this work of Tittmann’s seems to me still to leave room for another, even on the very subject to which it is specially devoted. It sometimes travels very slowly over its ground; the synonyms which he selects for discrimination are not always the most interesting; nor are they always felicitously grouped for investigation; he often fails to bring out in sharp and clear antithesis the differences between them; while here and there the investigations of later scholars have quite broken down distinctions which he has sought to establish; as for instance that between διαλλάσσειν and καταλλάσσειν, as though the first were a mutual, the second only a one-sided, reconciliation;2 or again as that between ἄχρι and μέχρι. Indeed the fact that this book of Tittmann’s, despite the interest of its subject, and its standing alone upon it, to say nothing of its translation into English,3 has never obtained any considerable circulation among students of theology here, is itself an evidence of its insufficiency to meet our wants in this direction.

Of the deficiencies of the work now offered, I am only too well aware; none can know them at all so well as myself. I know too that even were my part of the work much better accomplished than it is, I have left untouched an immense number of the Synonyms of the N. T., and among these many of the most interesting and instructive.4 I can only hope and pray that this volume, the labour sometimes painful, but often delightful, of many days, may, notwithstanding its many faults and shortcomings, not wholly miss its aim. That aim has been to lead some into closer and more accurate investigation of His. Word, in Whom, and therefore in whose words, ‘all riches of wisdom and knowledge are contained.’

I might here conclude, but having bestowed a certain amount of attention on this subject, I am tempted, before so doing, to offer a few hints on the rules and principles which must guide a labourer in this field, if the work is at all to prosper in his hands. They shall bear mainly on the proper selection of the passages by which he shall confirm and make good, in his own sight and in the sight of others, the conclusions at which he has arrived; for it is indeed on the skill with which this selection is made that his success or failure will almost altogether depend. It is plain that when we affirm two or more words to be synonyms, that is alike, but also different, with resemblance in the main, but also with partial difference, we by no means deny that there may be a hundred passages where it would be quite as possible to use the one as the other. All that we certainly affirm is that, granting this, there is a hundred and first, where one would be appropriate and the other not, or where, at all events, one would be more appropriate than the other. To detect and cite this passage, to disengage it from the multitude of other passages, which would help little or nothing here, this is a chief business, we may say that it is the chief business, of one who, undertaking the task of the discrimination of words, would not willingly have laboured in vain. It is true that a word can hardly anywhere be used by one who is at all a master, either conscious or unconscious, of language, but that his employment of it shall assist in fixing, if there be any doubt on the matter, the exact bounds and limitations of its meaning, in drawing an accurate line of demarcation between it and such other words as border upon it, and thus in defining the territory which it occupies as its own. Still it would plainly be an endless and impossible labour to quote or even refer to all, or a thousandth part of all, the places in which any much used word occurs; while, even supposing these all brought together, their very multitude would defeat the purpose for which they were assembled; nor would the induction from them be a whit more satisfactory and conclusive than that from select examples, got together with judgment and from sufficiently wide a field. He who would undertake this work must be able to recognize what these passages are, which, carrying conviction to his own mind, he may trust will carry it also to those of others. A certain innate tact, a genius for the seizing of subtler and finer distinctions, will here be of more profit than all rules which can before-hand be laid down; at least, no rules will compensate for the absence of this; and when all has been said, much must be left to this tact. At the same time a few hints here need not be altogether unprofitable, seeing that there is no such help to finding as to know beforehand exactly what we should seek, and where we should seek it.

It is hardly necessary to observe that the student in this field of labour will bestow especial attention on the bringing together, so far as they bear upon his subject, of those passages in good authors in which his work is, so to speak, done to his hand, and some writer of authority avowedly undertakes to draw out the distinction between certain words, either in a single phrase, or in a somewhat longer discussion, or in a complete treatise. To these he will pay diligent heed, even while he will claim the right of reconsidering, and it may be declining to accept, the distinctions drawn by the very chiefest among them. The distinguishing of synonyms comes so naturally to great writers, who are also of necessity more or less accurate thinkers, and who love to make sure of the materials with which they are building, of the weapons which they are wielding, that of these distinctions traced by writers who are only word-dividers accidentally and by the way, an immense multitude exists, a multitude far beyond the hope of any single student to bring together, scattered up and down as they are in volumes innumerable. I will enumerate a few, but only as illustrating the wide range of authors from whom they may be gathered. Thus they are met in Plato (θαῤῥαλέος and ἀνδρεῖος, Protag. 349 e; θάρσος and ἄνδρεια, Ib. 351 b; ἰσχυρός and δυνατός, Ib. 350 c; πόλεμος and στάσις, Rep. v. 470 b; διάνοια and νοῦς, Ib. 511 d) μνήμη and ἀνάμνησις, Philebus, 34 b; cf. Aristotle, Hist. Anim. i. 1. 15; in Aristotle (εὑγενής and γενναῖος, Hist. Anim. i. 1. 14; Rhet. ii. 15; cf. Dio Chrysostom, Orat. 15, in fine; ἔπαινος and ἐγκώμιον, Ethic. Nic. i. 12. 6; Rhet. i. 9; ἁφή and σύμφυσις, Metaph. iv. 4; φρόνησις and σύνεσις, Ethic. Nic. vi. 11; ἀκόλαστος and ἀκρατής, Ib. vii. 7, 10; πνεῦμα and ἄνεμος, De Mund. iv. 10; cf. Philo, Leg. Alleg. i. 14; ὄμβρος and ὑετός, Ib. iv. 6; εὔνοια and φιλία, Ethic. Nic. ix. 5); in Xenophon (οἰκία and οἶκος, Œcon. i. 15; βασιλεία and τυραννίς, Mem. iv. 6. 12); in Demosthenes (λοιδορία and κατηγορία, xviii. 123); in Philo (μίξις, κρᾶσις, and σύγχυσις, De Conf. Ling. 36; δῶρον and δόμα, Alleg. iii. 70; δωρεά and δόσις, De Cherub. 25; θρασύτης and θαῤῥαλεότης, Quis Rer. Div. Hœr. 5; πνοή and πνεῦμα, Leg. Alleg. i. 14); in Plutarch (ἀκολασία and ἀκρασία, De Virt. Mor. 6; ἐγκράτεια and σωφροσύνη, ibid.); in Lucilius (‘poëma’ and ‘poësis,’ Sat. 9); in Cicero (‘vitium,’ ‘morbus,’ and ‘ægrotatio,’ Tusc. iv. 13; ‘gaudium,’ ‘lætitia,’ and ‘voluptas,’ Ib. iv. 6; cf. Seneca, Ep. 59; Aulus Gellius, ii. 27; ‘cautio’ and ‘metus,’ Tusc. iv. 6; ‘labor’ and ‘dolor,’ Ib. ii 15; ‘versutus’ and ‘callidus,’ De Nat. Deor. iii. 10; ‘doctus’ and ‘peritus,’ De Off.; ‘perseverantia’ and ‘patientia,’ De Inv. ii. 34; ‘maledictum’ and ‘accusatio,’ Pro Cœl. iii. 6; with others innumerable). They are found in Quintilian (‘salsus,’ ‘urbanus,’ and ‘facetus,’ Instit. vi. 3, 17; ‘fama’ and ‘rumor,’ Ib. v. 3; ἤθη and πάθη, Ib. vi. 2, 8); in Seneca (‘ira’ and ‘iracundia,’ De Irâ, i. 4); in Aulus Gellius (‘matrona’ and ‘materfamiliâs,’ xviii. 6. 4; ‘fulvus’ and ‘flavus,’ ‘ruber’ and ‘rufus,’ lb. ii. 26); in St. Jerome (‘pignus’ and a ‘arrha,’ in Ephes. 1:14; ‘puteus’ and ‘cisterna,’ in Osee i. 1; ‘bonitas’ and ‘benignitas,’ in Gal. v. 22; ‘modestia’ and ‘continentia,’ ibid.); in St. Augustine (‘flagitium’ and ‘facinus,’ Conf. iii. 8, 9; ‘volo’ and ‘cupio,’ De Civ. Dei, xiv. 8; ‘fons’ and ‘puteus,’ in Joh. iv. 6; ‘senecta’ and ‘senium,’ Enarr. in Ps. lxx. 18; ‘æmulatio’ and ‘invidia,’ Exp. in Gal. v. 20; ‘curiosus’ and ‘studiosus,’ De Util. Cred. 9);5 in Hugh of St. Victor (‘cogitatio,’ ‘meditatio,’ ‘contemplatio,’ De Contemp. i. 3, 4); in Muretus (‘possessio’ and ‘dominium,’ Epist. iii. 80); and, not to draw this matter endlessly out, in South (‘envy’ and ‘emulation,’ Sermons, 1737, vol. v. p. 403; compare Bishop Butler’s Sermons, 1836, p. 15); in Barrow (‘slander’ and ‘detraction’); in Jeremy Taylor (‘mandatum’ and ‘jussio,’ Ductor Dubitantium, iv. 1. 2. 7); in Samuel Johnson (‘talk’ and ‘conversation,’ Boswell’s Life, 1842, p. 719); in Göschel (‘æequitas’ and ‘jus,’ Zerst. Blätter, part ii. p. 387); in Coleridge (‘fanaticism’ and ‘enthusiasm,’ Lit. Rem. vol. ii. p. 365; ‘keenness’ and ‘subtlety,’ Table Talk, p. 140; ‘analogy’ and ‘metaphor,’ Aids to Reflection, p. 198); and in De Quincey (‘hypothesis,’ ‘theory,’ ‘system,’ Lit. Reminiscences, vol. ii. p. 299, American Ed.). Indeed in every tongue the great masters of language would rarely fail to contribute their quota of these.

There is a vast number of other passages also, in worth secondary to those which I have just adduced, inasmuch as they do not draw these accurate lines of demarcation between the domain of meaning occupied by one word and that occupied by others bordering upon it; but which yet, containing an accurate definition or pregnant description of some one, will prove most serviceable when it is sought to distinguish this from others which are cognate to it. All such definitions and descriptions he will note who has taken this subject in hand. Such, for example, is Plato’s definition of διάνοια (Sophist. 263 e): ὁ ἐντὸς τῆς ψυχῆς πρὸς αὑτὴν διάλογος ἄνευ φωνῆς γιγνόμενος: of νόμος (Legg. 644 d): ὃς [λογισμὸς] γενόμενος δόγμα πόλεως κοινὸν νόμος ἐπωνόμασται: with which that of Aristotle may be compared: νόμος δέ ἐστιν ὁμολόγημα πόλεως κοινὸν διὰ γραμμάτων, προστάττον πῶς χρῆ πράττειν ἕκαστα (Rhet. ad Alex. ii.); or, again, Aristotle’s of εὐτραπελία that it is ὕβρις πεπαιδευμένη, or ‘chastened insolence’ (Rhet. ii. 12); of σεμνότης that it is μαλακὴ καὶ εὐσχήμων βαρύτης (Rhet. ii. 19); or Cicero’s of ‘temperantia,’ that it is ‘moderatio cupiditatum rationi obtemperans’ (De Fin. ii. 19); or again of ‘beatitudo’ (Tusc. v. 10): ‘Secretis malis omnibus cumulata bonorum omnium possessio;’ or of ‘vultus,’ that it is ‘sermo quidam tacitus mentis;’ or of ‘divinatio,’ that it is ‘Earum rerum quæ fortuitæ putantur prædictio atque præsensio (Divin. i. 5, 9); again, of ‘gloria’ (Tusc. iii. 2), that it is ‘consentiens laus bonorum, incorrupta vox bene judicantium de excellente virtute;’ or once more (Inv. ii. 55, 156): ‘Est frequens de aliquo fama cure laude;’ or South’s of the same, more subtle, and taken more from a subjective point of view (Sermons, 1737, vol. iv. p. 67): ‘Glory is the joy a man conceives from his own perfections considered with relation to the opinions of a others, as observed and acknowledged by them.’6 Or take another of Cicero’s, that namely of ‘jactatio,’ that it is ‘voluptas gestiens, et se efferens violentius’ (Tusc. iv. 9). All these, I say, he will gather for the use which, as occasion arises, may be made of them; or, in any event, for the mental training which their study will afford him.

Another series of passages will claim especial attention; those namely which contain, as many do, a pointed antithesis, and which thus tell their own tale. For instance, when Ovid says severally of the soldier and the lover, ‘hic portas frangit, at ille fores,’ the difference between the gates of a city and the doors of a house, as severally expressed by the one word and the other, can escape no reader. This from Cicero (Verr. v. 66), ‘facinus est vinciri civem Romanum, scelus verberari,’ gives us at once what was his relative estimate of ‘facinus’ and ‘scelus.’ There are few distinctions more. familiar than that existing between ‘vir’ and ‘homo’; but were this otherwise, a passage like that well-known one in Cicero concerning Marius (Tusc. ii. 22) would bring the distinction to the consciousness of all. One less trite which Seneca affords will do the same (Ep. 104): ‘Quid est cur timeat laborem vir, mortem homo?’ while this at once lets us know what difference he puts between ‘delectare’ and ‘placere” (Ep. 39): ‘Malorum ultimum est mala sua amare, ubi turpia non solum delectant, sed etiam placent;’ and this what the difference is between ‘carere’ and ‘indigere’ (Vit. Beat. 7): ‘Voluptate virtus sæpe caret, nunquam indiget.’ The distinction between ‘secure’ and ‘safe’ between ‘securely’ and ‘safely,’ is pretty nearly obliterated in our modern English, but how admirably is it brought out in this line of Ben Jonson,—

‘Men may securely sin, but safely never.

Closely connected with these are passages in which words are used as in a climacteric, one rising above the other, each evidently intended by the writer to be stronger than the last. These passages will at all events make clear in what order of strength the several words so employed presented themselves to him who so used them. Thus, if there were any doubt about the relation of ‘paupertas’ and ‘egestas,’ a passage like the following from Seneca (Ep. 58) would be decisive, so far at least as concerns the silver age of Latinity: ‘Quanta verborum nobis paupertas, imo egestas sit, nunquam magis quam hodierno die intellexi;’ while for the relations between ‘inopia’ and ‘egestas’ we may compare a similar passage from the younger Pliny (Ep. 4:18). Another passage from Seneca (De Irâ, ii. 36: ‘Ajacem in mortem egit furor, in furorem ira’) shows how he regarded ‘ira’ and ‘furor.’ When Juvenal describes the ignoble assentation of the Greek sycophant, ever ready to fall in with and to exaggerate the mood of his patron, ‘si dixeris, “æstuo,” sudat’ (Sat. iii. 103), there can be no question in what relation of strength the words ‘æstuo’ and ‘sudo’ for him stood to one another.

Nor in this way only, but in various others, a great writer, without directly intending any such thing, will give a most instructive lesson in synonyms and their distinction merely by the alternations and interchanges of one word with another, which out of an instinctive sense of fitness and propriety he will make. For instance, what profound instruction on the distinction between βίος and ζωή lies in the two noble chapters with which the Gorgias of Plato concludes, while yet he was certainly very far from designing any such lesson. So, too, as all would own, Cicero is often far more instructive here, and far more to be relied on as a guide and authority in this his passionate shifting and changing of words than when in colder blood he proceeds to distinguish one from another. So much we may affirm without in the least questioning the weight which all judgments of his on his own language must possess.

Once more, the habitual associations of a word will claim the special attention of one who is seeking to mark out the exact domain of meaning which it occupies. Remembering the proverb, ‘Noscitur a sociis,’ he will note accurately the company which it uses to keep; above all, he will note if there be any one other word with which it stands in ever-recurring alliance. He will draw from this association two important conclusions: first, that it has not exactly the same meaning as these words with which it is thus constantly associated; else one or the other, and not both, save only in a few exceptional cases of rhetorical accumulation, would be employed: the second, that it has a meaning nearly bordering upon theirs, else it would not be found in such frequent combination with them. Pape’s Greek Lexicon is good, and Rost and Palm’s still more to be praised, for the attention bestowed upon this point, which was only very partially attended to by Passow. The helps are immense which may here be found for the exact fixing of the meaning of a word. Thus a careful reader of our old authors can scarcely fail to have been perplexed by the senses in which he finds the word ‘peevish’ employed—so different from our modern, so difficult to reduce to that common point of departure, which yet all the different meanings that a word in time comes to obtain must have once possessed. Let him weigh, however, its use in two or three such passages as the following, and the companionship in which he finds it will greatly help him to grasp the precise sense in which two hundred years since it was employed. The first is from Burtos (Anatomy of Melancholy, part iii. § 1): ‘We provoke, rail, scoff, calumniate, hate, abuse (hard-hearted, implacable, malicious, peevish, inexorable as we are), to satisfy our lust or private spleen.’ The second from Shakespeare (Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act III. Sc. 1):

Share with your friends:
  1   2   3

The database is protected by copyright © 2020
send message

    Main page