The Juridical Nuance in the NT Use of Προσωπολημψια -- By: Riemer A. Faber

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 57:2 (Fall 1995)
Article: The Juridical Nuance in the NT Use of Προσωπολημψια
Author: Riemer A. Faber


The Juridical Nuance in the NT Use of Προσωπολημψια

Riemer A. Faber

Προσωπολημψία is one of a small number of Greek words which trace their origin to the Hebrew OT via the LXX. Not found in extant classical texts, the word-group appears first in the NT and Apocrypha, thereafter in the writings of the church fathers. Besides four instances of the abstract noun προσωπολημψία in the NT (Rom 2:11; Eph 6:9; Col 3:25; Jas 2:1), the adjective προσωπολήμπτης appears once, in Acts 10:34, and the verb προσωπολημπτεῖτε once, in Jas 2:9. The privative prefix α- is added to form the adverb ἀπροσωπολήμπτως in 1 Pet 1:17.1

The formation of the word is clear: a substantival element, πρόσωπον (“face”), is joined with a verbal one, -λημψία (from λαμβάνω, “to take, seize”).2 This unlikely combination makes little sense in Greek and suggests that the word was coined by the Christian authors under the influence of another language.3 Despite the continuing debate over the number and nature of Semitisms in the NT, there is a remarkable consensus that προσωπολημψία derives from the Hebrew נשׂא פנים (nāśāʾ p̄ānîm).4 The strained usage of -λημψία meaning “raise, lift” and its combination with πρόσωπον makes a literal parallel to the two Hebrew words certain.5 The phrase πρόσωπον λαμβάνω appears in the LXX (Lev 19:15; Job 34:19; Ps 82:2; Mal 1:8, You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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