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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Theological term of the Day: Hapax Legomenon

Precision in language is important, particularly when the writing is technical in nature or when the writing is supposed to be a high level of literature.  This is true in doing systematic theology, Biblical theology or exegesis of the Biblical texts as well.  So exactly what is "hapax legomenon"?  The term comes from two Greek words:  ἅπαξ λεγόμενον.  The word hapax or ἅπαξ occurs in the Greek New Testament several times but is not limited to the New Testament.  It also occurs in classical Greek.  It means "once".  (See Strong's Greek 530).  The general reader can easily look up these words online even if he or she has no biblical software.  Hapax is in the Liddell Scott Lexicon on the Perseus Project website as well:  (See hapax).  The same is true of "legomenon" or  λεγόμενον.  (Also see Perseus Project, lego or λέγω).  "Legomenon" comes from the root word or Greek lemma, λέγω, meaning "to speak or say", although it can have other meanings in different contexts.  (See Strong's Greek 303).  Hapax or ἅπαξ  is an adverb meaning "once" or "occurring once".  Legomenon or λεγόμενον is a Greek participle from the lemma, lego or λέγω.  More precisely the parsing is a present middle/passive accusative masculine singular.  (See Englishman's Concordance)The parsing generally follows the pattern of tense, voice, and mood for verbs.  Participles in Greek also take the formatives for nouns and adjectives, hence the participle is in the accusative case, masculine gender, and plural number. 

So the term as a unified idea means something like "having been said once", if we translate it literally.  In doing Biblical exegesis or interpreting and translating the Biblical text in either the Hebrew of the Old Testament or the Greek New Testament, "hapax legomenon" refers to words that occur only once in the Bible and rarely if ever elsewhere.  This is particularly true of Hebrew since there are words that occur only in the Hebrew OT which makes interpretation and translation extremely difficult.  In the pauline epistles there are Greek words that occur only once in the New Testament.  (For a more in depth article on this term see "Hapax legomenon" at the Wikipedia site).  There is no shame in using these kinds of online tools to find out the meanings of words and terms as they are used in various contexts in technical writings.  I hope I have encouraged someone to study further.  I regularly use these resources myself since I am not omniscient and have been touched with "old timer's disease", figuratively speaking of course.

Thanks to Daniel Chew for bringing up the term "hapax legomenon" on his wall in FaceBook.

May the peace of God be with you!

Charlie

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