More on "Atonement": Before Tyndale
I said that I was finished with atonement, but I guess that I was wrong, for I have found a few interesting online passages that are worth reading . . . if one has an interest in this sort of thing.
As for the first passage, I was directed to it by a man in my Bible study class last Sunday. The passage is from an article on "Atonement," by William Owen Carver, and was published in the 1913 edition of the International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, which is in the public domain and therefore can appear in its entirety online without royalties. The online copy that I used is found at the Blue Letter Bible website, and here is a sample passage from Carver's words on atonement:
It is obvious that the English word "atonement" does not correspond etymologically with any Hebrew or Greek word which it translates. Furthermore, the Greek words in both Septuagint and New Testament do not correspond exactly to the Hebrew words; especially is it true that the root idea of the most frequently employed Hebrew word, "cover," is not found in any of the Greek words employed. These remarks apply to both verbs and substantives The English word is derived from the phrase "at one," and signifies, etymologically, harmony of relationship or unity of life, etc. It is a rare instance of an AS [Anglo-Saxon] theological term; and, like all purely English terms employed in theology, takes its meaning, not from its origin, but from theological content of the thinking of the Continental and Latin-speaking Schoolmen who employed such English terms as seemed most nearly to convey to the hearers and readers their ideas. Not only was no effort made to convey the original Hebrew and Greek meanings by means of English words, but no effort was made toward uniformity in translating of Hebrew and Greek words by their English equivalents.Carver's tone suggests dissatisfaction with the term "atonement," and he seems to be blaming the Medieval Scholastics with his reference to "the Continental and Latin-speaking Schoolmen." I wish that he had said a bit more on this point. Who were these "Schoolment"? Did Carver consider William Tyndale a "scholastic"? Oddly, Carver avoids any mention of Tyndale in his article. I wonder why. Does Carver think that the word "atonement" occurs in theological vocabulary prior to Tyndale . . . in Scholastic writings when the writers bothered to render the Latin expression in English?
I've been refering to the term "atonement" as Tyndale's coinage, but that may be mistaken, for I recall that I'd earlier found the following etymology in the Online Etymological Dictionary:
atone (v.) 1555, from adv. phrase atonen (c.1300) "in accord," lit. "at one," a contraction of at and one. It retains the older pronunciation of one. The phrase perhaps is modeled on L. adunare "unite," from ad- "to, at" + unum "one." Atonement is 1513; theological sense dates from 1526.This dictionary gives a secular origin dating to 1513, for it specifies that the "theological sense dates from 1526," and that would be Tyndale's New Testament use of the term. Since this online dictionary does not cite the 1513 source, I was forced to go offline and check my Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which says:
1513 MORE Rich. III Wks. 41 Having more regarde to their olde variaunce then their newe attonement.For those without an offline OED, here's an online copy of the entry on "Atonement," which I found after checking my offline hard copy. Both of these 1513 citations come from Sir Thomas More. The first listed is from his work The History of King Richard the Third, and the second is said to be from "Edw. V," but I find it also in More's work on King Richard III. Google Books gives both instances on page nine of this history.
1513 MORE Edw. V Wks. 40 Of which . . none of vs hath any thing the lesse nede, for the late made attonemente
Well, that's a mystery, but I'm running out of time this morning and must head for Ewha Womans University to give some tests. Meanwhile, enjoy this bit by Philologus on "At-one-ment."
And don't neglect to investigate the rich and rewarding Blue Letter Bible website, an excellent resource about which I would like to say more if I had extra time.