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Table of Contents



  Chapter  1
  Chapter  2
  Chapter  3
  Chapter  4
  Chapter  5
  Chapter  6

  Appendix I
  Appendix II
  Appendix III
  Appendix IV
  Appendix V
  Appendix VI
  Appendix VII
  Appendix VIII
  Appendix IX
  Appendix X
  Appendix XI
  Appendix XII
  Appendix XIII
  Appendix XIV
  Appendix XV
  Appendix XVI
  Appendix XVII
  Appendix XVIII
  Appendix XIX
  Appendix XX
  Appendix XXI

  Biblical References

General Bibliography






(Reference: p.93)


Meaning of   in the New Testament.



It is, of course, hardly necessary to say that a noun formed from

a verb need not have the same basic meaning and that therefore the

verb cannot be used to prove anything about the meaning of the noun.

In the New Testament there is a recurrent phrase, "the foundation of

the world", which many writers, who view Gen. 1.2 as a description

of catastrophe, take to be an allusion.  On the basis of the verbal

root   they argue (as I myself have done) that the noun

means "disruption", since the verb means "to cast down". Origen

equated the verbal root of    with the Latin dejicere, "to

throw down".   In this he is essentially correct.   And in the LXX

the verb is similarly used to substitute for the following Hebrew

words, all of which are essentially similar in meaning;

    (Haras)     to tear down, breakdown, devastate, over-

throw, destroy, extirpate.

    (Laqah)    to take, lay hold of, seize, snatch away, cap-

tivate .

    (Natash)   to stretch or spread out, scatter abroad, re-

ject, let loose, disperse, give up.

    (Naphal)   to fall, fall away, fall out, fail, hurl down,

cast down, fall upon (attack).

    (Nathatz)  to break down, destroy, smash down.

    (Paratz)    to break, demolish, scatter, breakup, spread


    (Satam)    to lurk for, way-lay, entrap.

    (Shahath)  to break to pieces, destroy, ruin, lay waste,

devastate, violate, injure, corrupt.

    (Shaphel)  to fall or sink down, to be laid low, humiliate,


This clearly establishes the meaning of the verb, but what of the

noun formulated from it?   In classical Greek it came to have the

basic meaning of "foundation" as signifying what has been cast down

or thrown down first.   It is never found with the meaning of des-


pg 1 of 3      

truction or disruption. In II Macc. 2.29 the noun occurs in a context

which indicates that the classical sense of "foundation" is intended

here also.

In the New Testament there is little doubt that the verbal form

has the classical meaning of "casting down" or "casting out", as in

II Cor.4. 9 and Rev. 12.10 for example, or "giving birth to" in Heb.

11.11, ie., "founding" a new line.

On the basis of Heb. 6.1 which reads, "Therefore leaving the

principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection, not

laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of

faith towards God", the learned commentator Olshausen argues that

we must assume the word is here being used in its most fundamental

sense of "casting down", and so of demolishing or destroying. "For",

he argues, "the apostle would assuredly not have dissuaded men from

laying again the foundation of repentance, in the case of its having

been destroyed".

In this passage, moreover, the word for "foundation" is not

   as it might have been in classical Greek, but   (the-

melios) as it normally is in the New Testament. Wherever the New

Testament is speaking of a true "foundation", this word themelios

is found.   The following references will make this clear:


Luke 6.48-49                                      I Tim. 6.19

Luke 14.29                                         II Tim. 2.19

Acts 12.26                                          Heb. 1.10 (as a verb)

Rom. 15.20                                        Heb. 6.1

I Cor. 3, 10, 11, 12                              Heb. 11.10

Eph. 2.20                                            Rev. 21.14-19


Thus if there is a word in New Testament Greek, the meaning of

which is unequivocably and unambiguously "foundation", it is the

word themelios.   In the recurrent phrase, "the foundation of the

world", one might reasonably, therefore, have expected to find this

word used, if the meaning really is the foundation of the world. On

the other hand, to render it, "the disruption of the world", and

thereby make it a reference back to a catastrophe implied in Gen ,1.2,

requires that the noun be given a meaning for which we have no other

precedent in Greek literature.    Nor did   , apparently,

come by custom to be associated with the word   ("world"),

the word which follows it, as a kind of "accepted formula" for the

 creation, because elsewhere (when clearly speaking of the creation)

the phrase used is   , or  : ie. ,


     pg.2 of 3     

"from the beginning of the world" (as in Matt. 24.21) or "from the

beginning of the creation" (as in II Pe. 3.4). So also in Mark 10.6

and 13.19.   Since the word    means "order", it would not

be surprising if the writers of the New Testament had coined a new

phrase to describe the catastrophe, referring to it thereafter as the

"disruption of the world order".   They may then have used it as a

reference point with respect to God's redemptive plans - for this

may well have been the first overt rebellion of the created order

against the authority of the Creator.

The great majority of Greek scholars would undoubtedly object to

any claim that the noun can ever mean "destruction" on the grounds

that "there is no evidence for it".   But this is circular reasoning.

For there is no evidence only provided that we refuse to allow

    to be rendered "disruption" in the New Testament. Other-

wise, the argument has no force whatever.   One cannot disallow

something by merely asserting it to be unallowable to start with and

saying it cannot be allowed because there is no evidence for it!

Classical Greek and New Testament Greek do not always agree.

Some words in the New Testament are given meanings which they do

not hold in classical Greek, and Heb. 6.1 strongly supports the idea

that    may be one such word.





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     pg.3 of 3     


  Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved


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