The Case Absolute In The New Testament -- By: Henry Anselm Scomp

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 059:233 (Jan 1902)
Article: The Case Absolute In The New Testament
Author: Henry Anselm Scomp

The Case Absolute In The New Testament

Prof. Henry Anselm Scomp

The careful student of New Testament Greek cannot fail to notice a multitude of peculiar constructions, idiomatic expressions, forms, and uses of words, etc., which bear an unmistakable foreign flavor. He feels that foreigners are trying to express themselves in Greek. Allowing for those analytic processes to which the language had been subject since the days of Demosthenes, and for the new words which science, discovery, and foreign contact and commerce would naturally engraft upon the old Hellenic stock; and eliminating, moreover, words and expressions grown obsolete by time and change of usage, there yet remains much not to be accounted for by any, nor by all, of these causes; much, indeed, not to be paralleled in the writings of any genuine Greek who was contemporary with the Apostles.

Nor is this to be wondered at, when we consider the radical differences between Greek and Hebrew thought. A preliminary foundation must have been grounded in the thought of either people, before the religious edifice of the other could be reared among them. The flora and fauna of the one could not readily become acclimated to the strange soil and alien skies of the other. Words are only the signs—the expressions—for ideas. But what if the germinal, the fundamental, ideas are wanting? For what will the words then stand? Can mere words transplant and implant ideas? Other elements besides simple sounds

enter into the composition of language. Ideas must be felt to be realized at all. Thought, feeling, and imagery—to say nothing of other mental operations—are all in the substructure of this invisible, yet most real, edifice of language. What had the Greek to match the ideas of spiritual monotheism, the Incarnation, a divine decalogue, the Fall, the Redemption, the Shekinah, and the Visible Presence? To him all this was “foolishness.” What canvas had the Hebrew to receive the shadow of Greek polytheism with its symbolism of the whole material universe? How could his proverbs and aphorisms translate the depth, the subtlety, the system, and the fullness of Greek philosophy? What priest ministering at the great altar on Moriah could understand the mysteries of Platonic idealism, or the metempsychosis? His Heaven was somewhere in the blue vault above, while the Greek Elysium bloomed deep down below.

Not less antipodal were the respective systems and standards of faith, of worship, of mutual duties, of home life, of art, of beauty. As well compare the two massive pillars— the Boaz and Joachin—in the temple portico overlooking the Kidron, with the graceful Corinthian columns of a Greek temple, as attempt to parallel He...

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