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INQUIRY INTO THE DIFFERENCES IN THE IMPORT OF SOME WORDS COMMONLY THOUGHT SYNONYMOUS.
SEVERAL words in the New Testament considered by our translators as synonymous, and commonly rendered by the same English word, are not really synonymous, though their significations may have an affinity, and though sometimes they may be used indiscriminately. I shall exemplify this remark in a few instances of words which occur in the Gospels.
Διαβολος, Δαιμων, AND Δαιμονιον.
THE first of this kind on which I intend to make some observations, are διαβολος, δαιμων, and δαιμονιον, all rendered in the common translation almost invariably devil. The word daßoλos, in its ordinary acceptation, signifies calumniator, traducer, false accuser, from the verb Saẞadev, to calumniate, &c. Though the word is sometimes, both in the Old Testament and in the New, applied to men and women of this character, it is, by way of eminence, employed to denote that apostate angel who is exhibited to us particularly in the New Testament as the great enemy of God and man. In the two first chapters of Job, it is the word in the Septuagint by which the Hebrew jo Satan, or adversary, is translated. Indeed the Hebrew word in this application, as well as the Greek, has been naturalized in most modern languages. Thus we say indifferently the Devil or Satan, only the latter has more the appearance of a proper name, as it is not attended with the article. There is this difference between the import of such terms, as occurring in their native tongues, and as modernized in translations. In the former they always retain somewhat of their primitive meaning, and, beside indicating a particular being, or class of beings, they are of the nature of appellatives, and mark a special character or note of distinction in such beings. Whereas when thus Latinized or Englished, they answer solely the first of these uses, as they come nearer the nature of proper names. This remark extends to all such words as cherub, seraph, angel, apostle, evangelist, messiah.
2. Aiabolos, I observed, is sometimes applied to human beings. But nothing is easier than to distinguish this application from the more frequent application to the arch-apostate. One mark of distinction is, that in this last use of the term, it is never found
in the plural. When the plural is used, the context always shows that it is human beings, and not fallen angels, that are spoken of. It occurs in the plural only thrice, and only in Paul's Epistles. Γυναικας, says he, ὡσαυτως σεμνας, μη διαβολους, "Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers," 1 Tim. iii. 11. In scriptural use the word may be either masculine or feminine. Again, speaking of the bad men who would appear in the last times, he says, amongst other things, that they will be aσropγοι, ασπονδοι, διαβολοι, in the common translation, “ without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers," 2 Tim. iii. 3. Once more, Πρεσβυτιδας ώσαυτως εν καταστήματι ἱεροπρεπεις, μη διαBolovs, "The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers," Tit. ii. 3. Another criterion whereby the application of this word to the prince of darkness may be discovered, is its being attended with the article. The term almost invariably is ó diaßolos. I say almost, because there are a few exceptions.
3. It may not be amiss, ere we proceed, to specify the exceptions that we may discover whether there be any thing in the construction that supplies the place of the article, or at least makes that it may be more easily dispensed with. Paul, addressing himself to Elymas the sorcerer, who endeavoured to turn away the proconsul Sergius Paulus from the faith says, Acts xiii. 10, "O full of all subtilty, thou child of the devil," vie diaẞodov. There can be no doubt that the apostle here means the evil spirit, agreeably to the idiom of Scripture, where a good man is called a child of God, and a bad man a child of the devil: "Ye are of your father the devil," said our Lord to the Pharisees, John viii. 44. As to the example from the Acts, all I can say is, that in an address of this form, where a vocative is immediately followed by the genitive of the word construed with it, the connexion is conceived to be so close as to render the omission of the article more natural than in other cases. This holds especially when, as in the present instance, the address must have been accompanied with some emotion and vehemence in the speaker. I know not whether ὁ αντιδικος ύμων διαβολος, “ your adversary the devil," 1 Pet. v. 8, ought to be considered as an example. There being here two appellatives, the article prefixed to the first may be regarded as common, though I own it is more usual, in such cases, for the greater emphasis, to repeat it. In the word ός εστι διαβολος και σατανας, "who is the devil and satan," Rev. xx. 2; as the sole view is to mention the names whereby the malignant spirit is distinguished, we can hardly call this instance an exception. Now these are all the examples I can find, in which the word, though used indefinitely, or without the article, evidently denotes our spiritual and ancient enemy. The examples in which it occurs in this sense, with the article, it were tedious to enumerate.
4. There is only one place, beside those above-mentioned, where the word is found without the article, and, as it is intended to express a human character, though a very bad one, ought not, I think, to have been rendered devil. The words are, "Jesus answered, have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" ε úμwv eis diaßodos εOTI: John vi. 70. My reasons for not translating it devil in this place are, first, The word is strictly and originally an appellative, denoting a certain bad quality, and though commonly applied to one particular being, yet naturally applicable to any kind of being susceptible of moral character: secondly, As the term in its appropriation to the arch-rebel always denotes one individual, the term a devil is not agreeable to Scripture style, insomuch that I am inclined to think, that if our Lord's intention had been to use, by an antonomasia, the distinguishing name of the evil spirit, in order to express more strongly the sameness of character in both, he would have said, ó diaẞodos, one of you is the devil, this being the only way whereby that evil spirit is discriminated. The words, avridikos, adversary, TEρalwv, tempter, with the article, are also used by way of eminence, though not so frequently, to express the same malignant being; yet, when either of these occurs without the article, applied to a man as an adversary or a tempter, we do not suppose any allusion to the devil. The case would be different, if one were denominated ó πεiρalwv, ó aνTidiкos, the tempter, the adversary.
There is not any epithet (for diaßolos is no more than an epithet) by which the same spirit is oftener distinguished, than by that of ô πovηpos, the evil one. Now, when a man is called simply πονηρός, without the article, no more is understood to be implied than that he is a bad man. But if the expression were ó óvnoos, unless used to distinguish a bad from a good man of the same name, we should consider it as equivalent to the devil, or the evil one. Even in metaphorical appellations, if a man were denominated a dragon or a serpent, we should go no further for the import of the metaphor, than to the nature of the animal so called; but if he were termed the dragon, or the old serpent, this would immediately suggest to us, that it was the intention of the speaker to represent the character as the same with that of the seducer of our first parents. The unlearned English reader will object, Where is the impropriety in speaking of a devil? Is any thing more common in the New Testament? How often is there mention of persons possessed with a devil? We hear too of numbers of them. Out of Mary Magdalene went seven; and out of the furious man who made the sepulchres his residence, a legion. The Greek student needs not be informed, that in none of those places is the term διαβολος, but δαιμων or δαιμονιον. Nor can any thing be clearer from Scripture than that, though the demons are innumerable, there is but one devil in the universe. Besides, if we suppose that this word, when applied to human crea
tures, bears at the same time an allusion to the evil spirit, there is the same reason for rendering it devil in the three passages lately quoted from Paul; for, wherever the indefinite use is proper in the singular, there can be no impropriety in the use of the plural. Both equally suppose that there may be many of the sort. Now it is plain, that those passages would lose greatly by such an alteration. Instead of pointing, according to the manifest scope of the place, to a particular bad quality to be avoided, or a vice whereby certain dangerous persons would be distinguished, it could only serve as a vague expression of what is bad in general, and so would convey little or no instruction.
5. The only plea I know in favour of the common translation of the passage is, that by the help of the trope antonomasia, (for devil in our language has much of the force of a proper name,) the expression has more strength and animation than a mere appellative could give it. But that the expression is more animated, is so far from being an argument in its favour, that it is, in my judgment, the contrary. It savours more of the human spirit than of the divine, more of the translator than of the author. We are inclinable to put that expression into an author's mouth, which we should, on such an occasion, have chosen ourselves. When affected with anger or resentment, we always desert the proper terms, for those tropes which will convey our sentiment with most asperity. This is not the manner of our Lord, especially in cases wherein he himself is the direct object of either injury or insult. Apposite thoughts, clothed in the plainest expressions, are much more characteristic of his manner. When there appears severity in what he says, it will be found to arise from the truth and pertinency of the thought, and not from a curious selection of cutting and reproachful words. This would be but ill adapted to the patience, the meekness, and the humility of his character; not to mention, that it would be little of a piece with the account given of the rest of his sufferings.
I know it may be objected, that the rebuke given to Peter, (Matt. xvi. 23,) "Get thee behind me, Satan," is conceived in terms as harsh, though the provocation was far from being equal. The answer is much the same in regard to both. Satan, though conceived by us as a proper name, was an appellative in the language spoken by our Lord; for, from the Hebrew it passed into the Syriac, and signified no more than adversary or opponent. It is naturally just as applicable to human as to spiritual agents, and is, in the Old Testament, often so applied.
6. I acknowledge that the word daßodos, in the case under examination, is to be understood as used in the same latitude with the Hebrew satan, which, though commonly interpreted by the Seventy Staßodos, is sometimes rendered Bovλos, insidiator, and may be here fitly translated into English, either spy or informer. The Scribes and Pharisees, in consequence of their
knowledge of the opposition between our Lord's doctrine and theirs, had conceived an envy of him, which settled into malice and hatred, insomuch that they needed no accuser. But though Judas did not properly accuse his Master to them as a criminal, the purpose which he engaged to the scribes, the chief-priests, and the elders, to execute, was to observe his motions, and inform them when and where he might be apprehended privately without tumult, and to conduct their servants to the place. The term used was therefore pertinent, but rather soft than severe. He calls him barely spy or informer, whom he might have called traitor and perfidious.
7. It is now proper to inquire, secondly, into the use that has been made of the terms δαιμων and δαιμονιον. First, as to the word dauwv, it occurs only five times in the New Testament, once in each of the three Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and twice in the Apocalypse. It is remarkable, that in the three Gospels it refers to the same possession, to wit, that of the furious man in the country of the Gadarenes, who haunted the sepulchres. There does not, however, seem to be any material difference in this application from that of the diminutive Sapovov, which is also used by Luke in relation to the same demoniac.
8. Aapoviov occurs frequently in the Gospels, and always in reference to possessions, real or supposed. But the word diaßodos is never so applied. The use of the term Sayuovov is as constantly indefinite as the term Staßolos is definite. Not but that it is sometimes attended with the article; but that is only when the ordinary rules of composition require that the article be used, even of a term that is strictly indefinite. Thus, when a possession is first named, it is called simply δαιμονιον, a demon, οι πνευμα ακαθαρτον, an unclean spirit, never το δαιμονιον or το πνεύμα ακαOaprov. But when, in the progress of the story, mention is again θαρτον. made of the same demon, he is styled ro daioviov, the demon, namely, that already spoken of. And in English, as well as Greek, this is the usage with respect to all indefinites. Further, the plural Saluovia occurs frequently, applied to the same order of beings with the singular. But what sets the difference of signification in the clearest light is, that though both words, διαβολος and δαιμοviov, occur often in the Septuagint, they are invariably used for translating different Hebrew words. Aaßolos is always in Hebrew either tsar, enemy, or j satan, adversary, words never translated daioviov. This word, on the contrary, is made to express some Hebrew term, signifying idol, pagan deity, apparition, or what some render satyr. What the precise idea of the demons, to whom possessions were ascribed, then was, it would perhaps be impossible for us with any certainty to affirm; but as it is evident that the two words Staßodoc and Sapovov are not once confounded, though the first occurs in the New Testament upwards of thirty times, and the second about sixty, they can, by