Friday, December 05, 2008

More on "Atonement": Before Tyndale

Blue Letter Bible
A Great Online Resource
(Image from Blue Letter Bible)

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.

1513 MORE Edw. V Wks. 40 Of which . . none of vs hath any thing the lesse nede, for the late made attonemente
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.

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.

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At 3:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peach pits anyone?


At 7:15 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Peachy keen, JK.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:48 PM, Blogger Luke Sampson said...

Just what I was looking for. Thank you!

At 1:05 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

You're welcome.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The etymology of a word does not define its meaning--use in context does. The Greek and Hebrew words could almost have been translated "xxx", and by reading the Scriptures it would be obvious what the meaning of "xxx" is--that Christ shed his blood to make a way for man to be acceptable before God through Him; and that the Old Testament "atonement" was a pre-figuration of what Messiah did for us. Most etymological word studies are "strifes over words" which lead away from true godliness, as the Scripture warns. Translators need to exercise due diligence in selecting their words of course. But oh how careful we need to be not to make language work in a way that it does not!

At 7:22 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

A word well-chosen etymologically will work better in context.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the article. I didn't chk the date, but the content of the EOL for "atone" is different from what you have, and the link is no longer working to the on-line OED.
Interesting, as I likewise learned that the approved use of this word differs from its proper meaning!

At 3:59 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

You're welcome.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At One
A Tone

You vibrate a certain frequency which thus gives sound.

The proper use of Unity in this sense is just as the word is 'spell'ed.

You look at it and know, Unity.
And that it produces a sound.

Ye Are As Gods.

Jesus and many others trained here and there, to help people realize how much love-power, backed by God, made you As A God because you are made and created,

In The Image of God. Everything God created was Good, Is Good and Will Always Be Good.

The Kindgom of God is WithIn You and All Around You.

When you realize that and feel the joy inside and allow your true will of what you truly desire is really a training to be AT ONE with your own feeling of God within you.

To be In The Sound of God's Voice.

And be filled with the Holy Spirit.


At 2:59 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the pun and the poem.

Jeffery Hodges

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