If anyone knows this would help me decide a couple of things today.
Which publisher is more conservative, Eerdmans or Zondervan?
Posted 18 February 2013 - 10:23 AM
Accordance Bible Software
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Posted 18 February 2013 - 12:05 PM
Eerdman's publishes works on a broad range but generally I would call most of their works mildly drifting towards liberal spectrum of evangelical or mainstream content. Zondervan's offerings have seemingly become more and more stridently conservative. There are one or two exceptions.. The New International Bible Commentary Edited by F. F. Bruce (recently rereleased as Zondervan Bible Commentary) is very moderate and irenic in it's approach to difficult passages. Eerdman's works always seem to be much more scholarly than Zondervan's. I am not sure if anything I have said will be of help to you or not.
Posted 18 February 2013 - 01:50 PM
That helped a lot. But does the scholarliness come with a price? I find myself drawn to slightly cheaper works:
Eerdman's works always seem to be much more scholarly than Zondervan's. I am not sure if anything I have said will be of help to you or not.
Posted 19 February 2013 - 09:33 AM
Eerdmans is an old Dutch Reformed publishing house, but they tend to publish solid, scholarly books from a wide variety of sources. I'd agree with calling their offerings generally "mainstream," but I think "liberal" is going too far.
Zondervan's target market is evangelicals. They do publish good scholarly materials, but they also print a lot of titles aimed at the "popular" [non-specialist] market. They have also tried to expand into the charismatic/Pentecostal market, with mixed success.
Timothy P. Jenney, Ph. D.
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Posted 19 February 2013 - 12:28 PM
Dangerous question. I'd agree with Dr J, though. Eerdmans aims a bit more at academic writings from a wider perspective. Zondervan, while they do publish academic titles, aims primarily at the popular, 'christian bookstore' level from a more narrowly defined 'evangelical' perspective.
Southwest Christian Church
Posted 19 February 2013 - 12:45 PM
Labels like conservative, liberal, moderate, mainstream are necessary, but imprecise. Different authors are characterized by one or more such labels, but may be labeled differently, depending on the perspective of the evaluator and perhaps the topic under discussion. A person may be "liberal" in one area, "conservative" in another, "progressive in a third. A publishing house may tend one way or another, but as the saying might go, "The views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of the publisher."
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Posted 19 February 2013 - 12:58 PM
Like I tried to ask: does that come with a price, are Zondervan items generally better bang for the buck?:
Eerdmans aims a bit more at academic writings from a wider perspective.
Posted 19 February 2013 - 01:06 PM
are Zondervan items generally better bang for the buck?
Without wishing to cast aspersions on either Zondervan or Eerdman's, "bang for the buck" is a strange concept to apply to Bible study. The point of such study is to discover truth. If one reads a book by a misguided author, no matter how inexpensive the book, it does not provide bang for the buck. Conversely, one who knows his stuff and is able to present it in a winsome and understandable way is great bang for the buck at whatever price.
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Posted 19 February 2013 - 01:36 PM
I know. What I mean is that if You compare two similar works (aimed at the same customer category but still with differences) one from Eerdmans and one from Zondervan, will the Eerdmans title be noticeably more expensive but more scholarly and the Zondervan title cheaper? In that case the scholarliness of Eerdmans generally comes with a price.
I could explain a little why I'm asking now that I'm not in such a hurry to decide as I was yesterday: there is an upper limit for what I'm gladly willing to pay for academical reference works. Both Eerdmans and Zondervan brake that limit. If having bought a fairly comprehensive reference set You usually are never going to read through the whole set, right? If You look up one thing the article, chapter or paragraph may either be sufficiently long, scholarly and so on, or not. Now, if an Eerdmans article, chapter or paragraph is better is one thing, but what I'm talking about is if there's more scholarly material than I really need - then the extra (that I read through quickly but don't have time to use in my work) is actually what I have paid for.
On the other hand, if a set roughly meets my needs and is cheaper it's more likely a better choice even if it's a bit inferior.
What makes this more complicated, is that NEITHER the Eerdmans set and the Zondervan set that I'm thinking of, are the most recent references works in the category. So even is Eerdmans is better (and more expensive) it still doesn't contain the very newest discoveries/insights/changes in the opinions of the scholarly world.
The other explanation to what I mean is that I would prefer to support publishers that I like more than publishers that I don't like. So that's what I'm concerned about what they generally publish, to make up my mind what I think about them.
Many customers are concerned about prices, and if one publisher manages to produce more effectively then that might be the preferred publisher for many customers. So even if Eerdmans might on an average publish "better" books than Zondervan, most customers will likely choose cheap beginners level Eerdmans books or Zondervan books, and thereby the advantage of "better" books being available for order, is quickly rubbed out so to speak, as the customers are frightened about the prices. As I see it what I'm asking for probably comes with a price - so now as I have rephrased my question: which publishers is then better? If someone is of the opinion that Eerdmans books are affordable yet good I'd really like to hear that?!:
Conversely, one who knows his stuff and is able to present it in a winsome and understandable way is great bang for the buck at whatever price.
Posted 19 February 2013 - 02:09 PM
It might be more helpful if we knew what sets you are comparing.
The Eerdmans NIGNTC is outstanding, for instance. It has no equal. Both of the commentary series NICNT and NICOT are solid, dependable works that will provide insights into Scripture for many years.
On the other hand, Zondervan's NIBBCOT and NIBBCNT are also irreplaceable. They expand the amount of background information available for a Bible passage by orders of magnitude—and they have gorgeous illustrations (a Zondervan trademark). Similarly, their NIVAC commentary is simply brilliant. I have never read another commentary so consistently able to move from passage, to an ancient application, a biblical principle, and finally to a relevant modern application. Each section is like taking a hermeneutics class centered on just one Bible passage!
Once difference that has not been mentioned here is that Eerdmans is one of the few remaining independent publishing houses of biblical materials. Zondervan is owned by HarperCollins (Rupert Murdock), who also recently bought out Thomas Nelson.
Timothy P. Jenney, Ph. D.
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Posted 19 February 2013 - 03:55 PM
Thanks Dr. J, very helpful!
Well regarding commentaries I'm having a very long pause purchasing. To mention the most familiar ones, I have the Hermeneia/Continental set including Lk 19:28–24:53, 2 Mc, and 2 Chron; 3 ICC volumes; Paideia Ro. And from the less known but still very good commentaries I'll just mention Richard Bauckham James (New Testament Readings -series) Routledge 1999, 2 Believer's Church Bible Commentary volumes (Anabaptist), and that for 1 Clem I rely on one Catholic from 1937 (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge). Almost all are in a Bible study software. I don't have study-bibles and few if any one-volume commentaries.
So back to the topic: the sets I'm comparing are:
- Revised ISBE (perhaps bundled with The Encyclopedia of Christianity vols. 1-5, and various theology, church and psychology books by publishers T & T Clark, Eerdmans, IVP, SPCK, Fortress Press, Princeton and Brill). One or two of the Church books in that bondle is/are good, but the church history books in it are not. It's hard to estimate the value of theological books and to have time to read them so perhaps I would just use them as reference in case they show up in searches. It's surprising that ISBE is said to be conservative while the publisher, Eerdmans is perhaps not. Source: http://www.deeperstu...html#dict_multi
- NIDNTT, by Zondervan. Perhaps also The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church rev. ed. and Theologisches Begriffslexikon zum Neuen Testament (the original to NIDNTT, more liberal). What I like about NIDNTT is how it's supposed to be used, and that it's limited to the NT and has 84 references to the book of Sirach.
It might be more helpful if we knew what sets you are comparing.
Edited by Unix, 20 February 2013 - 04:50 PM.
Posted 19 February 2013 - 08:36 PM
BKM everyone gets a free copy of the Eerdmans Bible Dictionary of the Bible with the upgrade to 10. As I have stated elsewhere ISBE is a fine set that I don't think anyone will regret buying, it's not a resource that could replace the wonderful knowledge contained in NIDNTT, and I honestly haven't used Kittle much to compare with NIDNTT, works like the later are great resources that Zondervan has in it's offerings, I just found some of it's works less than desirable. I wouldn't let price be a final determination, Orange Kool Aid is awfully cheap but no substitute for a glass of orange juice. I was not trying to be offensive calling Eedman's drifting towards the liberal indeed I consider myself liberal (although perhaps I am a very conservative on, seeing as I affirm the creed fully, and generally hold to fairly orthodox beliefs).
Posted 21 February 2013 - 07:39 AM
BKM everyone gets a free copy of the Eerdmans Bible Dictionary of the Bible with the upgrade to 10.
Really? Wow, this is good to know. Whenever, Accordance for Windows in finally released I'll be able to take advantage of that.
I wouldn't let price be a final determination
Me, neither but, Unix is a student on a budget at the moment.
I was not trying to be offensive calling Eedman's drifting towards the liberal indeed I consider myself liberal (although perhaps I am a very conservative on, seeing as I affirm the creed fully, and generally hold to fairly orthodox beliefs).
No, offense taken . As, for me I consider myself to be a traditionalist with modern sensibilities.
But, that has very little to do with my recommendations to Unix.
חַפְּשׂוּ בַּתּוֹרָה הֵיטֵב וְאַל תִּסְתַּמְּכוּ עַל דְּבָרַי
Posted 21 February 2013 - 11:09 AM
There is a VERY prohibitive postage cost of $28 to get the software on emulator (download not possible). There's Accordance training over here in April 2013, the Windows version has not come out by then. The Windows version will be a download.
I won't any richer later on after studies either.
I've been spending a bit too much on books. I haven't regretted any books yet and the Bible study software company that I use has been generous to me and let me return books and get a refund after a long time - usually this has been possible because I've at the same time spent hundreds of $ so I've kept them happy that way. They forgot to charge me two commentaries, a total of $110 - they seem to be have stopped nagging at me about that after just one email. (I've also received one print commentary from elsewhere without being charged).
I still don't know whether to choose revised ISBE or NIDNTT and/or the bundle with the other books. It seems like revised ISBE and NIDNTT have slightly different purposes:
Really? Wow, this is good to know. Whenever, Accordance for Windows in finally released I'll be able to take advantage of that.
Me, neither but, Unix is a student on a budget at the moment.
Posted 21 February 2013 - 02:05 PM
I cannot say for sure which is best for you. I will display an article Blessing, Blessed, Happy from NIDNTT and several related articles in ISBE. Obviously they are very different creatures but both highly useful...
Blessing, Blessed, Happy
eujloge÷w G2328 (eulogeoœ), speak good of, praise, bless; eujlogi÷a G2330 (eulogia), fine speaking, praise, blessing; eujloghto/ß G2329 (eulogeœtos), praised, blessed; e˙neuloge÷w G1922 (eneulogeoœ), bless; aÓspa¿zomai G832 (aspazomai), greet; aÓspasmo/ß G833 (aspasmos), greeting.
CL 1 The vb. eulogeoœ is found in Gk. literature from the tragedians onwards. It is compounded from the adv. eu, well, and the root log-, speak (Word), and means to speak well. (Its opposite is kakologeoœ, speak badly.) Correspondingly the noun eulogia (attested from Pindar onwards) means speaking well. The verbal adj. eulogeœtos corresponds to the perf. part. pass. eulogeœmenos and means a person or thing which is favourably spoken of and thus praised. The intensive compound form eneulogeœo or eneulogeomai is not found in secular Gk. literature.
(a) Applied to form, speaking well (eulogia) refers to its aesthetic appeal, the attractive presentation of what one is saying (cf. TDNT II 754). In Rep., 3, 400de Plato names eulogia alongside euharmostia (harmony), euscheœmosyneœ (good deportment), and eurhythmia (symmetry) as consequences of eueœthia (good morals or good character). In Lucian (Lexiphanes 1) and Aesop (ed. Halm 274, 274b: eulogos) the concept takes on the negative sense of a well-composed, but false, attractiveness of speech (so also Rom. 16:18).
( Applied to its content, speaking well (eulogia) expresses praise and extolling. This praise can be of things (e.g. a city, Aesch. Agamemnon, 580; distinguished deeds, Isoc., 6, 105), or persons (e.g. fathers, Aristoph., Knights, 565; women, Aristoph., Ecclesiazusae, 454). Occasionally it is used of the praise of the gods (objective gen.) (e.g. Pan in CIG, III p. 1190, no. 4705b 2; and Isis, ibid. no. 4705c 3). In such a context eulogeoœ comes close to the meaning of eucharisteoœ, thank (Thank, art. eujcaristi÷a). Only once (Eur., Suppliants 927) are the gods the subject of eulogein. The gods consider men in their good deeds. This reflects the role of the gods as protecting and endowing men, which is not altogether unknown in Gk. religion (cf. Aesch., Eumenides, 997 ff.). Yet one cannot ascribe to the Gk. gods a specific activity of blessing. eulogeoœ first comes to mean bless in the LXX.
2 H. Windisch thinks that the basic meaning of aspazomai is that of embracing as in the mutual greeting of two good friends (TDNT I 497). Its etymology is obscure, and it is found from Homer onwards. It is also possible that its basic meaning is to speak or say. Like phileoœ (Love), aspazomai originally expressed liking and welcoming, respect and love for persons and things (Xen., Cyropaedia, 1, 4, 1; Anabasis, 7, 1, 8; Plato, Apology 29d, Symp. 209B; Eur., Ion 587). Later its application was limited to the act of greeting, as opposed to the word of greeting (cf. chaire, hail!). It included offering one’s hand, embracing, kissing (phileœma) and [Vol. 1, p. 207] genuflexion (Prayer, art. proskune÷w) (Plut., Titus, 11; Agesilaus, 11; Phocion, 27; Josephus, Ant. 11, 8, 5 (331)). Correspondingly, the sub. aspasmos means first embrace, love (Plato, Laws, 11, 919e), then greeting, visit (Epict., Diss., 4, 4, 3, 37). Written greetings are uncommon in the pre-Christian era, but they were more frequent in the Oriental world (cf. Amarna and Elephantine Letters).
OT In the LXX these words are very common (in all 640 occurrences, 450 in the case of eulogeoœ). Most often they represent forms of the root baœrak≈ (bless). Here eulogeoœ comes to mean bless and is no longer contrasted with kakologeoœ (see above CL 1), but with kataraomai (curse). This group of words occurs in almost all OT and apocryphal texts, but it is particularly common in Gen., Deut., Pss. and Tob. The descriptions of blessing in the OT have to some extent developed a peculiar “language of blessing” (C. Westermann, Der Segen in der Bibel und im Handeln der Kirche, 1968, 33). It is, therefore, necessary for the understanding of the OT concept of blessing to deal not only with cases of the baœrak≈ and eulogeoœ groups of words but also with texts which describe the blessing in their own way without using this terminology.
1 The concept of blessing has its origins in pre-Israelite times and is connected with magical concepts from which blessing could originally be distinguished only with difficulty (cf. G. van der Leeuw, Religion in Essence and Manifestation, 19642, ß59). This is implied even in the etymological links of the Heb. baœrak≈ with the Ugaritic root brk and the Akkad. word karaœbu. Basically baœrak≈ means endow with beneficial power. This meaning involves both the process of endowing and the condition of being endowed. Hence blessing originally involved a self-contained beneficial force which one could transmit to another and which stood in contrast to the destructive power of cursing (Curse, art. katara¿omai).
2 In the OT one can find elements of such pre-Israelite ideas and customs of blessing which were common particularly in the ancient religions of the Near East. Blessing features strongly in the stories of the patriarchs in Gen. 12-36.
(a) The performance of a blessing involves a word invested with power and an action ratifying it. The oldest formula of blessing is a promise in the indicative: Blessed are you! (baœru®k≈} atta®h; LXX eulogeœtos [sy ei], e.g. Gen. 26:29). The actions that accompanied this pronouncement have a symbolic significance. Through physical contact they confer beneficial power by the laying on of hands. This is by the right hand (Gen. 48:13 ff.), or at least by the raising of the hands or the arms (Exod. 17:11), kissing or embracing (Gen. 48:10), and the touching of clothes (2 Ki. 2:13 f.), staffs (2 Ki. 4:29), or placing the hand under the thigh (Gen. 24:9; 47:29). The one who was to bestow the blessing fortified for bestowing it by eating a special food (Gen. 27:4).
( The imparted blessing works unconditionally and irrevocably. It is permanent and can neither be revoked nor rendered ineffective (Gen. 27:33; 2 Sam. 7:29).
© The blessing does not have its original setting in the sacral context of the cult, but in that of the family bonds of kinship.
(d) There are correspondingly different occasions for blessing. The most frequent form of expression is a greeting at meeting and parting (Gen. 47:7 ff.). A blessing was imparted particularly at the climactic points in life: at birth (Ruth 4:13 f.; cf. Lk. 2:34), marriage (Gen. 24:60) and death (Gen. 48:1 ff.; 49:28 ff.). In [Vol. 1, p. 208] this connection it is important to note the blessing of the heir, by which the head of the family conveyed his power before his death chiefly to his first-born son, and thus passed it on to the next generation (Gen. 27:1 ff.; 48:1 ff.).
(e) Basically anyone is entitled to impart a blessing or a curse. But some men were specially endowed with a power to bless and curse, e.g., the seer Balaam (Num. 22), charismatic leaders like Joshua (Jos. 6), Melchizedek Gen. 14:18 ff.), and later also prophets and priests.
(f) In earlier times blessing had a mutual character. Not only did the mighty bestow a blessing on their inferiors (e.g. Melchizedek on Abraham in Gen. 14:18 ff.), but also the inferiors on the mighty (e.g. Jacob on Pharaoh in Gen. 47:7-10). Men reply to the blessings of a deity by blessing him, i.e. by recognizing his power in praise. Hence baœrak≈ means, on the one hand, bless (subject: God) and, on the other, praise (subject: men).
(g) The nature of the blessing is that of the conferring and transference of beneficial power, which produces fertility in men (Gen. 24:34-36) and in livestock and lands (Gen. 30:25 ff.). Blessing works vertically in the continued growth of succeeding generations (expressed in the genealogies of Gen. 5 and 11:10 ff.). Horizontally it effects peace, security from enemies, good fortune and well-being for a tribe or group (expressed most comprehensively in the concept s¥aœlo®m, well-being.
(h) This original concept of a blessing, which precedes both the emergence of cult and theological reflection appears most clearly in Jacob’s plot to steal the blessing in Gen. 27.
3 (a) The story of Balaam (Num. 22-24) combines the pre-Israelite phenomenon of the blessing with the power of Yahweh, the God of Israel. Balak, king of Moab, apprehensive of an invasion of the Israelites into his land, called on the pagan charismatic soothsayer Balaam to help by checking the threatening foe with a curse (Num. 22:1-6). The point of the story is that Yahweh, the God of Israel, shows himself to be master of the power to pronounce blessing. Balaam is deprived of his own innate powers of control and may only bless, instead of curse, at Yahweh’s command (Num. 22:12, 31, 38; 23:3-5). In this transference of all the power of blessing to Yahweh, blessing has lost its magical quality. The visible contacts conveying the power are reduced to actions in which Yahweh is understood as the real agent of blessing.
( The pronouncements of the blessing (Num. 23:7-10, 18-24; 24:3-9, 15-24) in the story of Balaam have their true home in the formal pronouncements of blessing and cursing (cf. Gen. 9:26; 49; Num. 22-24; Deut. 33; Gen. 3:14 f.; 4:11; Lev. 26; Deut. 28). Blessing belongs to the language of the seer. It differs from the prophetic promise of salvation in the way it depicts salvation. It portrays the earthly well-being of the people or the land. Thus Num. 24:5 f. declares: “How fair are your tents, Jacob, your encampments, Israel. Like valleys that stretch afar, like gardens beside a river, like oaks that the Lord (MT YHWH) has planted, like cedar trees beside the waters.”
© The decisive switch from the prehistoric, unhistorical concept of the blessing within the tribe to the historical understanding of the blessing in the context of the history of Israel occurs in the Yahwistic prologue to the story of the patriarchs in Gen. 12:1-3. The text is divided into a three-fold command (v. 1) and a six-fold [Vol. 1, p. 209] promise, each part linked by waw (and; vv. 2-3). The command contains the demand that Abraham depart from his land, his tribe and his family. He is to break off his settled way of life, in order to travel on towards a vaguely indicated destination. It is a striking feature of the formulation of the promise, that in these programmatic promises the root baœrak≈ occurs 5 times, each time in a different form, as the key word. As distinct from the immediate transference of power in pre-Israelite times, the Yahwist has made the blessing into an object of Yahweh’s promise. He has given the previous unhistorical procedure of blessing a future perspective: the blessing is promised for future times.
The Yahwist takes up the tradition of the promise of a son or a posterity in the patriarchal stories (cf. Gen. 26:34-36; 26:24). Here the son is not named as the blessing promised to Abraham, as he is in Gen. 15:4; 18:10. The blessing is the great nation and the great name which this nation obtained later as in the time of the empire of David and Solomon (v. 12:2; cf. 2 Sam. 7:9). The blessing is seen as a promise realized in the history of Israel. “‘Blessing’ becomes the key word of the great history of Israel from Abraham’s departure up to the Davidic empire” (H. W. Wolff, Gesammelte Studien, ThB 22, 1964, 356).
The sixth clause, formulated with a constative perf., is the most comprehensive: “all tribes of the earth can obtain blessing in you” (Gen. 12:3b; cf. 18:18; 28:14; the niph. of baœrak≈ is to be translated as mid., not pass.). This sentence is to be understood in the context of the primal history which embraces all mankind (Gen. 1-11), which mentions 5 instances of the curse on mankind (Gen. 3:14, 17; 4:11; 5:29; 9:25). In contrast to this history of the curse, Gen. 12:3b sets before “all tribes of the earth” a history of blessing. It includes liberation from vain toil (Gen. 3:17), carefraught wandering (Gen. 4:11 f.), base servitude (Gen. 9:25) and the destructive chaos of the nations (Gen. 11:1 ff.). Thus in Gen. 12:1-3 the Yahwist spans the histories of patriarchs, nation and mankind with his promise of blessing.
4 (a) After Israel’s settlement in Canaan a lengthy struggle began over whether the Canaanite fertility gods, the Baalim, or Yahweh, the God of promises who brought Israel out of Egypt, was to be honoured as bestower of blessing. The fierceness of this clash is especially apparent in the accounts of the prophet Elijah (1 Ki. 17-19). The story of God’s judgment on Carmel (1 Ki. 18) symbolizes the victory of Yahweh who causes fire to fall from heaven over the powerless deity, Baal (cf. G. von Rad, Old Testament Theology, II, 1967, 16 ff.). The story of drought and rain (1 Ki. 17:1; 18:1, 2a, 16 f., 41-46) transfers Baal’s powers of fertility and blessing to Yahweh, who is now seen as Lord of the land. His continued activity in bestowing blessing in the promised land of Canaan adds a new element to his actions in history.
( This understanding of blessing is expressed in Deuteronomy. Here the whole nation receives the gifts of civilized society — fertility of body, of cattle, of field, political unity and harmony with neighbouring peoples — as blessings from Yahweh’s hand. “Blessed are you in the city, and blessed in the field. Blessed is the fruit of your body, the fruit of your land and the fruit of your cattle . . . . The Lord will cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated by you” (Deut. 28:3-7; cf. 7:13-16). Yahweh’s blessing is understood in Deut. in this-wordly, secular terms. G. von Rad speaks of a “material view of salvation, which . . . extends even to the kneading-trough of the individual household (Deut. 28:5)” (op. cit. I, 1962, 229).
[Vol. 1, p. 210]
In contrast to the concept of blessing in Gen. 12, 15, 26, Deuteronomy does not speak of blessing in the form of an unconditional promise, but in the form of conditional sentences. “If (MT }im; LXX ean) you now listen carefully to the voice of Yahweh, your God . . . then all these blessings will come upon you” (Deut. 28:1 f.; cf. vv. 15 f.). Being thus bound to the obedience of the nation, the blessing is an element in the covenant between Yahweh and Israel. As Yahweh fulfils his covenant obligations in blessing, so Israel is bound to keep the covenant. The reverse side of this conditional blessing under the covenant is the curse that attends Israel’s failure to keep its obligations. That is the significance of the command of Deut. 11:29 to set the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. The two possibilities, between which Israel must choose (Deut. 30:19), are developed at length in ch. 28:vv. 1-14, the blessing; and vv. 15-68, the curse. By drawing blessing into the covenant, Deut. unites the polarity of blessing and cursing with that of salvation and judgment (Redemption, art. sw¿ˆzw OT; Judgment, art. kri÷ma OT; cf. C. Westermann, Der Segen, 51 f.).
© Besides Yahweh, the real bestower of blessing, there are also in Israel individual people or groups who mediate blessing: kings, prophets and priests. The role of the king in mediating blessing is never so prominent in Israel as, e.g., in Egypt. But the promise given by Nathan (2 Sam. 7:16) shows that at any rate the Davidic kingship conveys blessing. The first temple at Jerusalem is consecrated with a two-fold act of blessing by Solomon before and after the prayer of consecration (1 Ki. 8:14, 54). The extent to which the king was seen as bringing blessing is particularly clear in the messianic texts which speak of a new king who will bring his nation the blessings of well-being and peace (cf. Isa. 9:6 f.; 11:1 ff.). Part of the task of the early prophets was to intercede for Yahweh’s blessing on the nation (1 Ki. 18:41 ff., Elijah; 2 Ki. 6:24 ff., Elisha; Amos 7:1 ff.; Jer. 14). The later literary prophets proclaimed well-being in the form of a future activity of Yahweh in salvation and blessing. Like the apocalyptic writers, they portrayed this blessing promised for the future as an earthly salvation in the language of blessing (see above 3 (). It is seen as a messianic kingdom of peace (Isa. 11; Zech. 9:9 f.), a quiet and prosperous life (Mic. 4:3 f.; Zech. 9:17), prosperity and a great banquet (Isa. 55:1 ff.; 25:6), the destruction of enemies (Isa. 27:1), lasting peace (Isa. 26:12) and universal being (Isa. 65:17-25).
5 (a) Blessing also plays an important part in Israelite worship. That is apparent in the consecration of Solomon’s temple (1 Ki. 8:14, 54; see above 4 ©). The temple as the holy precinct is the true place for the mediation of blessing to the nation and the land. The blessing was bestowed at the close of worship on the members of the cultic community as they returned to their houses, that it might be realized in their daily lives (cf. the Pss. of blessing: 65; 115:12-15; 128; 129:8; 132 etc.). The community responded to the blessing that it had received by blessing Yahweh in their turn, in the cry of adoration, “Praised be Yahweh” (MT baœru®k≈ YHWH; LXX eulogeœtos kyrios). This formula occurs especially frequently in the Pss. of praise (Pss. 18:47; 28:6; 31:21 (31:22); 66:20; 68:19 (68:20); 119:12; 124:6; etc.; cf. also the doxologies of Pss. 41:13 (41:14); 72:18 (72:19); 89:52 (89:53); 106:48). Probably the blessing was also pronounced on certain cultic occasions (e.g. the presentation of the first-fruits, Deut. 26:1 ff.) and over individuals (cf. Pss. 91; 121).
( The theology of blessing in the so-called priestly tradition presupposes the [Vol. 1, p. 211] institutions of the cult. The bestowal of blessing is a privilege of the Levitical priests. Lev. 9:22 f. tells of the first pronouncement of the priestly blessing at the end of the first service of sacrifice in the holy tent. It is confirmed by the appearance of Yahweh’s glory. Num. 6:24-26 records the wording of the priestly, Aaronic blessing, to be pronounced at the end of every act of worship: “May Yahweh bless you, and keep you; may Yahweh let his face shine upon you, and may he be gracious to you; may Yahweh lift up his countenance towards you, and may he set well-being upon you.” This rhythmic blessing falls into three parts, each of which describes Yahweh’s blessing and its content with different words, so rendering it more impressive. The process of his blessing is described as a shining or lifting up of his face (MT paœnˆîm; LXX prosoœpon). paœnˆîm means that side of Yahweh’s nature which is turned towards men (cf. the k§b≈o®d≈ YHWH, Yahweh’s glory). If Yahweh does not hide that side of himself that is turned towards men, but lifts it up; if he does not darken it in wrath, but lets it shine; then Yahweh’s blessing means his welcoming disposition towards men. The content of the blessing is described by the concepts of protection, grace and — most comprehensively — well-being (Heb. s¥aœlo®m, Peace OT). The blessing is received by the community of the Israelites gathered for worship, who are addressed as a single person (v. 23). The six verbs of the blessing are in the cohortative imperfect, i.e. in the form of a desire for blessing and not a promise in the indicative. Thus Yahweh’s freedom over against cultic blessing is safeguarded. The priests can simply pray for his blessing; but they cannot dispense it. Nevertheless, Yahweh’s promise attends the priests’ act of blessing: “If they thus set my name upon the Israelites, I myself will bless them” (v. 27).
© While the concept of blessing in Num. 6 has a sacral, priestly, cultic character, related to the cultic community, the blessing pronounced in Gen. 1:22, 28 embraces all creation, men and other creatures. “Be fruitful, increase, fill the earth and subject it to yourselves” (Gen. 1:28). Gen. 2:3 does not only sanctify the seventh day for the cultic community, but primarily blesses it for all men. C. Westermann deduces from the common and contrasting elements in Gen. 1 and Num. 6 that “the blessing given in worship . . . is in fact meant for all mankind; and the blessing pronounced upon the community gathering for sacred worship is that intended for all mankind and indeed for all living things” (op. cit., 61).
6 (a) Even the occasionally thoroughly secular sayings collected in the OT Wisdom literature are indirectly related with blessing. Here Yahweh’s blessing is expressed in the shrewd advice which a wise man can give in secular matters (details in Westermann, op. cit., 40 ff.).
( The dramatic dialogues of the Book of Job also discuss the question of Yahweh’s action in bestowing and withdrawing his blessing. The argument shows that the mechanical application of the theology of blessing of Deut., that blessing and cursing are entirely dependent on obedience or disobedience (cf. 4 (), upheld by Job’s “friends”, with all their merciless implications, is not the complete answer. For it does not square with the reality of Job’s sufferings (cf. also Ps. 73 and the scepticism of the Preacher in Eccl.). Here the OT theology of blessing reaches its limits. Yahweh’s blessing is no longer primarily experienced in the present. As in apocalyptic, it is awaited in the promised eschaton.
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© The original forms of the blessings are preserved in the Book of Tobit which echoes the stories of the patriarchs: the blessing of children by their parents, especially at their departure (Tob. 5:16; 7:7; 9:6; 10:12), and in greetings (Tob. 7:6; 10:12).
(d) In Rab. Jud. pronouncements of blessing and praise are widespread. The first tractate of the Mishnah is called b§raœk≈o®t≈. Praises are introduced with the formula “Praised be the Lord”, and extol Yahweh for his deeds and gifts. The rabbis knew of appropriate praises for all the most widely varied situations of daily and cultic life (cf. SB IV 616 ff., 627 ff.). We should remember here the blessing that Jews pronounced at table before and after a meal. Ber. 35a says: “It is forbidden to a man to enjoy anything of this world without a benediction, and if anyone enjoys anything of this world without a benediction, he commits sacrilege” (for details cf. H. W. Beyer, TDNT II 759 ff.).
(e) The texts of the Qumran community include hymns of praise, some of which begin with the formula “Praised are you, Lord” (the Qumran Thanksgiving Hymns or Hodayot, 1QH). The extant fragments of the Blessings Scroll (1QSb) contain blessings for priests and other persons. The Community Rule quotes a (gnostic?) version of the Aaronic blessing: “May He (Yahweh) bless you with all good and protect you from all evil and illuminate your heart with the understanding of life and be gracious to you with everlasting knowledge, and may He lift up his gracious countenance towards you for your eternal well-being” (1QS 2:2-4).
NT Compared with the fundamental significance of blessing in the OT, the NT gives less prominence to both the concept and the act. The group of words associated with the root eulog- occurs altogether 68 times in the NT. The vb. eulogeoœ accounts for 41 occurrences; eneulogeoœ 2 (Acts. 3:25; Gal. 3:8); kateulogeoœ 1 (Mk. 10:16); the noun eulogia 16; and the verbal adj. eulogeœtos 8. Comparatively speaking, this group is most frequent in Lk., the major Pauline epistles and Heb. But Jn. uses the vb. only once (Jn. 12:13) in an OT quotation. In the shorter Pauline epistles, the Pastorals, the Johannine and the Catholic epistles, 2 Pet., Jude, the group does not occur at all.
1 The formal and aesthetic sense of eulogia found in classical Gk. is only alluded to in a deprecatory fashion in Rom. 16:18: “They (Paul’s opponents) do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly and they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting with their skill of speech (chreœstologia) and pleasing eloquence (eulogia).”
2 Far more often (40 times out of 68) the root has the meaning praise, extol. The adj. eulogeœtos means only blessed, praised. This usage derives, on the one hand, from the basically secular Gk. meaning, to speak well of someone (see above CL 1 (), and, on the other hand, from the LXX translation of the OT form of praise of God, “Blessed, i.e. praised, by Yahweh” (see above OT 5 (a)).
(a) The NT also uses this root to express its praise of God. In this context it takes on a doxological character. As in late Judaism (Ber. 7:3; Eth. Enoch 77:1), God is called the “praised (eulogeœtos) One” (Mk. 14:61). Zechariah’s hymn (Lk. 1:68, the Benedictus) and some letters (2 Cor. 1:3; Eph. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:3) begin with the formula “Praised be God (the Lord)” (eulogeœtos (kyrios) ho theos). The relationship of greeting and praise of God is particularly clear here (cf. the formula of greeting still practised in S. Germany, “Grüss (dich) Gott”, “God greet you”). [Vol. 1, p. 213] Another form of doxology occurs as a short interjection of praise (eulogia) in Paul’s letters (Rom. 1:25b; 9:5; 2 Cor. 11:31). It is expanded as a hymn in (Rev. 5:12, 13b; 7:12 Song, art. u¢mnoß).
( The greeting of a superior was expressed not by the doxological adj. eulogeœtos but by the perf. part. pass. of the more versatile vb. eulogeoœ: eulogeœmenos. This expresses not only praise and greeting, but recognition that God has blessed the person concerned. Jesus is greeted with the cry of eulogeœmenos, praised, blessed, welcome (Mk. 11:9 par.; Matt. 23:39 par.; cf. Ps. 118:26). This form of greeting also welcomes the coming of God’s kingdom, initiated by God with the Messiah’s coming (Mk. 11:10). It is applied to Mary, the mother of the Messiah (Lk. 1:42).
© The Jewish custom of offering praise on various occasions in everyday life and in worship (see above OT 6 (d)) is also attested in the NT writings (Lk. 1:64; 2:28 f., the Nunc Dimittis; 2:34; 24:53; 1 Cor. 14:16; Jas. 3:9 f.). According to the synoptic accounts, Jesus followed the practice of the Jewish paterfamilias in pronouncing a blessing as a prayer at table before and after meals (Mk. 6:41 par., the feeding of the 5000; 8:7, the feeding of the 4000; 14:22 f. par., Jesus’ last meal with his disciples, Lord’s Supper NT 4 (); Lk. 24:30, table fellowship with the risen Christ). As the parallelism of eulogeoœ and eucharisteoœ (Thank, art. eujcaristi÷a) in Mk. 8:6 f.; 14:22 f. and Matt. 26:26 f. shows, the blessing at meals gives thanks to the Creator for his material gifts. (See above OT 4 (; cf. also 1 Cor. 10:16, SB IV 627 ff. on the cup of blessing and Lord’s Supper NT 4 (d). On the whole of sect. 2 cf. W. Schenk, Der Segen im NT, 1967, 97-130).
3 Where this word group occurs with the special sense of bless or blessing (28 times out of 60), the NT understanding of this concept is oriented more towards the theology of blessing in the OT than towards that of late Judaism. The picture presented by the NT corresponds to the statistical evidence (see above NT introduction). In contrast to the OT (see above OT 3©, 4(, 5(), the NT presents no special theology of blessing. It refers to it incidentally as something familiar to its readers, though it is by no means unimportant.
(a) In the Synoptic Gospels the idea of blessing is significant in three pericopes: (i) the blessing of the children, (ii) Jesus’ commissioning of the Twelve, and (iii) the departure of the risen Jesus from his followers.
(i) In laying his hands on the children and blessing them (Mk. 10:13-16 par.), Jesus did nothing unusual. On the contrary, he acted just as a Jewish father or rabbi would (cf. SB I 807 f.). The important point to note is that for Mk., Jesus’ activity is not limited to adults. It also includes children, and so embraces man at all stages of life. The kingdom of God, with which this pericope is principally concerned (v. 15), is “man’s bodily and creaturely existence positively co-ordinated with Jesus’ activity” (so C. Westermann, op. cit., 83; as against W. Schenk, op. cit., 72, who understands Jesus’ blessing “as clearly intercession”).
(ii) The context of the commissioning in Matt. 10:1-16 shows that the instructions to greet houses (v. 12 aspasasthe) refers to the greeting of blessing (cf. v. 13 eireœneœ, Heb. s¥aœlo®m, being). As in Jesus’ own ministry, the disciples have a two-fold task: (1) preaching, and (2) healing (vv. 7-8a). They are sent out as evangelists and bearers of blessing. Matt. holds that the disciples’ commission — like Jesus’ [Vol. 1, p. 214] own mission — involves not only announcing the kingdom of God, but also compassion for the creaturely suffering of the world and action directed towards man’s earthly well-being. Acts also shows particularly clearly the complementary activities of the apostles in proclaiming salvation by word and deed (cf. Peter’s healing and preaching in Acts 3). There blessing does not reach its fullness until the spasmodic missionary preaching has given way to the regular building up of churches (see above OT 4 (a)). This new situation, which is so unlike the unsettled conditions of Jesus’ life and that of the disciples and apostles (particularly Paul), is not yet present in most of the NT. It is, therefore, not surprising that blessing is not so often spoken of in the NT as in the OT.
(iii) Neither the priestly blessing (so Schenk, op. cit., 58) nor the blessing of the heir in the stories of the patriarchs lies behind the risen Christ’s benediction in Lk. 24:50 f. Rather it is the custom of blessing given at departure (see above OT 2 (d), 6 ©). The departing Lord shares with his church the power of his blessing through which he remains bound to it. Its content is the presence of the exalted Lord with his church, as Matt. expressly says at the corresponding point in his account: “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20; cf. Gen. 26:3).
( Of all the NT writers Paul used the concept of blessing the most deliberately and gave it its new decisive christological form (cf. OT 3 © above).
(i) In Gal. 3:8 Paul cites Gen. 12:3b: “All nations shall be blessed in you” (i.e. all nations of the earth; cf. the LXX translation which Paul uses here). Paul gives the quotation a new interpretation corresponding to his christological train of thought. The fulfilment of the blessing promised to Abraham is now seen as God’s redeeming act in Christ. The gift of the blessing is no longer that of a great nation or of the fruitfulness of the land, but the promised Spirit of Christ (Gal. 3:14). The common ground between the quotation from the Yahwist and its Pauline interpretation lies in the fact that both the promised blessing and its fulfilment in Christ should reach all nations of the earth (vv. 8, 14). In Gal. 3:8-14 Paul so interprets the relation of blessing and curse that, through Christ’s taking to himself once and for all the curse of the Law in his death (v. 13; Cross, art. xu/lon NT), the believers of all nations now receive the blessing of God’s redeeming activity in Christ (v. 14; cf. Eph. 1:3; Acts 3:25 f.).
(ii) The phrase eulogia Christou (Rom. 15:29) does not mean an act of blessing but the effect of the preaching of Christ in the church. It means that Paul is certain that his coming to Rome will further the growth of the community.
(iii) The connection between blessing and gifts (cf. Gen. 33:11) is shown especially in 2 Cor. 9:5 f. Paul calls the collection which he has been making for the community at Jerusalem a eulogia. The context shows that eulogia means a generous gift (as opposed to pleonexia, stinginess). The Corinthian church should contribute ungrudgingly (ep’ eulogias as opposed to pheidomenoœs, grudgingly), so that through this gift God’s blessing may be given tangible expression in the Jerusalem church.
© The Letter to the Hebrews makes fullest use of the OT concept of blessing found in the stories of the patriarchs, e.g. in Heb. 6:7 f. (see above OT 2). It frequently alludes to or paraphrases OT benedictions: 6:14 (Abraham, cf. Gen. 22:16 f.); 7:1-7 (Melchizedek, cf. Gen. 14:18-20); 11:20 (Isaac, cf. Gen. 27:27 ff.); 11:21 (Jacob, cf. Gen. 48:15 f.); 12:27 (Esau, cf. Gen. 27:30 ff.). The book’s purpose in telling of these examples is stated in Heb. 6:12: “so that you may imitate the example of those [Vol. 1, p. 215] who through faith and patient endurance inherit the promises.” Sometimes these passages contain formulas like “to inherit blessing” (Heb. 12:17; cf. 1 Pet. 3:9) and “to inherit promises” (Heb. 6:12, 15). The parallelism of blessing and promise shows that blessing here means not present, but eschatological well-being (cf. also Matt. 25:34 and Isa. 65:23b; see above OT 4 ©).
(d) Finally, there are the paraenetic texts on blessing: Lk. 6:27 f.; Rom. 12:14; 1 Cor. 4:12; 1 Pet. 3:9. Here Jesus’ disciples are exhorted to meet the curses, persecutions, abuse or reproaches of enemies with the opposite, blessing. Blessing here means simply a friendly disposition towards enemies. The commandment to love one’s enemies replaces the ius talionis (this is especially clear in 1 Pet. 3:9). What Paul formulated christologically is here developed in paraenesis. The opposition of blessing and cursing is abolished. Since Christ has taken the curse upon himself (Gal. 3:13; see above ( (i)), Christians can only be exhorted to bless without reserve (Rom. 12:14). “Christ’s church and individual Christians need curse no one any more, for Christ’s work avails also for his enemies” (Westermann, op. cit., 90).
maka¿rioß G3421 (makarios), blessed, fortunate, happy; makari÷zw G3420 (makarizoœ), call or consider blessed, happy; makarismo/ß G3422 (makarismos), blessing.
CL 1 makarios, originally a parallel form to makar, is first attested in Pindar and means free from daily cares and worries. In poetic language it describes the condition of the gods and those who share their happy existence. In the 4th cent. B.C. it gradually lost this meaning, and became a word in common use, like our “happy”, and was therefore avoided by poets (cf. Plato, Meno, 71a).
2 It is important to note that it most frequently occurs in the formalized language of makarismos (blessing) in the formula makarios hos (tis) . . . happy is he who . . . (e.g. Pindar, Pyth., 5, 46; only rarely in the 2nd person). Hence a person can be congratulated on a happy event. “In content beatitudes, which are common in both poetry and prose throughout the centuries, reflect the sorrows and afflictions, the aspirations and ideals, of the Greeks” (F. Hauck, TDNT IV 363). Parents are congratulated on their children (Aristoph., Wasps, 1512), the well-to-do on their wealth (Bacchyl., 5, 50), the wise on their knowledge (Plato, Laws, 2, 660e), the pious on their inward well-being (Eur., Frag. 256, ed. Nauck 434), initiates on their experience of God (Homeric Hymn to Demeter 480) and (in funerary inscriptions) the dead on their escape from the vanity of things (Aesch., Persians 712).
3 The different Gk. concepts of happiness also recur in the use of the vb. makarizoœ (Homer, Od. onwards) and the sub. makarismos (Plato, Rep. 591e onwards). The latter first occurs as a technical term in the sense of pronouncing blessed in Aristotle (Rhet., A9 1367b 33).
OT 1 In the LXX makarios and makarizoœ generally translate the Heb. }es¥er, happiness, well-being, }aœs¥ar, pronounce happy, or }as¥re®, well-being to . . . . The meaning of these words is also determined by the dominant aspirations and ideas of happiness.
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Stylized blessings do not occur in the early strata of the OT (as in early eastern literature in general). They are found first in the wisdom literature, “praising the prudent man, in a participial or relative clause” (K. Koch, The Growth of the Biblical Tradition, 1969, 17). This is irrespective of whether the reference is to earthly blessings (Sir. 25:8; Gen. 30:13; Ps. 127:5), prosperity (Job 29:10 f.), a wise life (Prov. 3:13; Sir. 14:20), or fulfilling God’s commandment (Pss. 1:1; 41:1 (41:2); 119:1). Those psalms that have been influenced by the wisdom tradition pronounce him blessed who trusts in God. “Blessed are all those who put their trust in him” (Pss. 2:12; 34:8 (34:9); cf. 84:12 (84:13); Isa. 30:18). “Blessed is he whose sin has been forgiven” (Ps. 32:1 f.). The connection between religious happiness consisting in Yahweh’s favour and earthly happiness through the Creator’s gifts is basic in wisdom literature. Yahweh himself is, however, never called makarios. This formula always solemnly ascribes well-being to a man. It is quite different from a benediction ( eujlogi÷a) which is an authoritative and efficacious word. It is indicative of this distinction that in an age when blessing was a priestly prerogative (Sir. 50:20) laymen had recourse to makarismos.
2 In the later Israelite period (e.g. Sir. 25:7-10) more elaborate pronouncements of this sort and even whole series of them are found, especially in apocalyptic texts (Dan. 12:12; Tob. 13:14 f.). Pronouncements of blessedness are often supplemented by a contrasting series of woes (Sl. Enoch 52:1 ff.; cf. Eth. Enoch 103:5). In substance these pronouncements have the force of an eschatological consolation (as Eth. Enoch 58:2 shows: “Blessed are you righteous elect! For glorious shall your lot be”). “No longer is it a general matter of trust in God, but belief in the coming of the end of the world, in the eschatological hope” (Koch, op. cit., 17).
3 In Hel. Judaism Hellenistic influence showed itself clearly in the use of the word makarios, especially in Philo. According to him, only the deity attains to blessedness. He alone is blessed (monos makarios, Sacr. 101). Men share in this only in so far as the divine nature penetrates the creation. On the other hand, Rab. Judaism latched on to the OT usage: “Happy are you and those who bore you! Happy are my eyes that they have seen a thing!” cried R. Johanan b. Zakkai to his pupils (Hag. 14b). Eschatological blessedness is alien to him.
NT 1 In the NT the vb. makarizoœ occurs only twice (Lk. 1:48; Jas. 5:11), and the noun makarismos only 3 times (Gal. 4:15; Rom. 4:6, 9; both these Pauline passages suggest use of the word in a formula). On the other hand makarios is relatively more frequent, generally in the context of pronouncing someone or something blessed. Of 50 instances 13 and 15 are in Matt. and Lk. respectively, 7 in Paul, only 2 each in Jn., 1 Pet. and Jas., and 7 in Rev.
2 Stylistically the NT pronouncements follow the tradition of those in apocalyptic, including the setting of them in series noted above. Corresponding to the Heb. }as¥re®, the eschatological pronouncements in Jesus’ preaching and the gospel records are made in the 3rd person. Almost uniformly they are furnished with a reason or a description of the bliss ascribed (Lk. 1:45 etc.). “Blessed are the spiritually poor; for the kingdom of heaven is theirs” (Matt. 5:3 etc.). Contrasting woes are explicitly set against the ascriptions of blessing in Lk. 6:20 ff. and implicitly in the visions of Rev. 14:13; 16:15; 19:9 (cf. also Lk. 6:5 Codex D). They occur predominantly in the Synoptics and in Rev., but apparently not in those strata of early Christianity [Vol. 1, p. 217] that came under Hel. influence. In pronouncing blessed the man who does not condemn himself in his decisions (Rom. 14:22) and in calling the unmarried more blessed (1 Cor. 7:40), Paul aligns himself stylistically more with the pronouncements of the wisdom tradition. A clearly Gk. or Hel. usage is found in 1 Tim. 1:11 and 6:15, where God himself is pronounced blessed (cf. also Tit. 2:13 and Philo).
3 The pronouncements of the Sermon on the Mount dominate the NT scene (Matt. 5:3-10 par. in the introd. to the so-called Sermon on the Plain in Lk. 6:20 ff.). There the 3rd person in Matt. 5:3-10 over against 5:11 f. and Lk. 6 corresponds to the general usage. The contents of the pronouncements parallel those of apocalyptic as well as their style. “Previously the Beatitudes were seen as a vehicle for setting out the virtues ordained by God for man, but now it is quite clear that phrases such as ‘poor in spirit’, ‘those that mourn’, ‘are meek’, ‘hunger and thirst after righteousness’ are merely different aspects of an attitude to the world nearing its close, an attitude of lasting patience and hope. It is not the virtues which are important so much as the promise of salvation conveyed by the ‘blessed’ at the beginning as well as by the motive clause in the second half of each line” (Koch, op. cit., 8). The eschatological pronouncements are distinguishable from the apocalyptic by their paradoxical statements (the kingdom belongs to the poor in spirit, the powerless, the sorrowful), and by the fact that this kingdom of God is bound up with the life and message of Jesus. They are an example of what is meant in Matt. 11:5: the message of joy is brought to the poor. The salvation that is announced here depends on the coming kingdom of God, which in turn is inseparable from him who brings it.
Present and future are thus related to one another in these pronouncements. This is clearest in Lk.’s version of them in Lk. 6:20 ff. where the word “now” is inserted in v. 21 underlining this relationship. “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.” All the benefits praised in Hellenism and the OT are now eclipsed. “The predominating estimation of the kingdom of God carries with it a reversal of all customary evaluations” (Hauck, TDNT IV 368). Hence the pronouncement also applies to all those who share the experience of the arrival of the kingdom of God (Matt. 13:16 f.), who face this encounter in the right way (Lk. 1:45; Matt. 16:17; Jn. 20:29), and are not offended at it (Matt. 11:6). They act according to what they have heard and seen (Lk. 14:14; Jn. 13:17) and remain steadfast and faithful on the watch (Lk. 12:37 f.; Matt. 24:46; Jas. 1:12; Rev. 16:15). Although the pronouncements in the NT are so varied, their futuristic character is not to be understood in the sense of consolation and subsequent recompense. The promised future always involves a radical alteration of the present.
(a). J. M. Allegro, “A Possible Mesopotamian Background to the Joseph Blessing of Gen. XLIX,” ZAW 64, 1952, 249-51; H. W. Beyer, eulogeoœ, TDNT II 754-65; D. Daube, Studies in Biblical Law, 1947; S. A. Blank, “The Curse, Blasphemy, the Spell and the Oath,” Hebrew Union College Annual 23, 1950-51, 73-95; W. J. Harrelson, “Blessings and Cursings,” IDB I 446 ff.; J. Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus, 19662; G. van der Leeuw, Religion in its Essence and Manifestation, 19642, 408-12; A. Murtonen, “The Use and Meaning of the Words l§b≈aœrek≈ and b§raœk≈a®h in the Old Testament,” VT9, 1959, 158-77, 330; S. Mowinckel, “Psalms of Blessing and Cursing,” The Psalms in Israel’s Worship, II, 1962, 44-52; H. Mowvley, “The Concept and Content of ‘Blessing’ in the OT,” The Bible Translator 16, 1965, 74-80; J. Pedersen, Israel: Its Life and Culture, I—II, 1926, 162 ff., 182-212; G. von Rad, Old Testament Theology, I, 1963, II, 1965; J. Scharbert, “Blessing,” EBT I 69-75; A. C. Thiselton, “The Supposed Power of Words in the Biblical Writings,” JTS n.s. [Vol. 1, p. 218] 25, 1974, 283-99; H. Windisch, aspazomai, TDNT I 496-502; G. P. Wiles, Paul’s Intercessory Prayers: The Significance of Intercessory Prayer Passages in the Letters of Paul, 1974, 108-55: R. E. Brown, “The Beatitudes according to Luke”, New Testament Essays, 1967, 265-71; W. D. Davies, The Setting of the Sermon on the Mount, 1964; and The Sermon on the Mount, 1966; C. H. Dodd, “The Beatitudes: a form-critical Study”, More New Testament Studies, 1968, 1-10.
( A. Alt, “Das Gottesurteil auf dem Karmel,” in Kleine Schriften zur Geschichte des Volkes Israel, II (1953) 19643, 135 ff.; J.—P. Audet, “Esquisse historique du genre littéraire de la ‘bénédiction’ juive et de l’eucharistie chrétienne,” RB 65, 1958, 371-99; E. J. Bickermann, “Bénédiction et prière,” RB 69, 1962, 524-32; C. Brockelmann, Hebräische Syntax 1956; L. Brun, Segen und Fluch im Urchristentum, 1932; O. Eissfeldt, “Jahwe und Baal,” Kleine Schriften, I, 1962, 1 ff.; S. Herrmann, “Die Königsnovelle in ägypten und Israel,” WZ Leipzig, 1953-54, 33 ff.; J. Hempel, “Die israelitischen Anschauungen von Segen und Fluch im Lichte altorientalischer Parallele,” Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Neue Folge 4, 1925, 20-110; F. Horst, “Segen und Segenshandlungen in der Bibel,” EvTh 7, 1947-48, 23-37 (Gottes Recht, ThB 12, 1961, 188 ff.); H. Junker, “Segen als heilsgeschichtliches Motivwort,” Sacra Pagina, 1959, 548-58; C. A. Keller and G. Wehmeier, “brk,” THAT I 353-76; E. Klessmann, “Was heisst Segen nach der heiligen Schrift?” MPTh 48, 1959, 26 ff.; B. Landsberger, “Das ‘gute Wort’” Festschrift B. Meissner, 1929, 294-321; S. Morenz, F. Horst and H. Köster, “Segen und Fluch,” RGG3 V 1648 ff.; S. Mowinckel, Religion und Kultus, 1953, 64 ff.; J. Scharbert, Solidarität in Segen und Fluch im Alten Testament und in seiner Umwelt, I, Väterfluch und Vätersegen, Bonner Biblische Beiträge 14, 1958; “‘Fluchen’ und ‘Segen’ im Alten Testament,” Biblica 39, 1958, 1-26; and baœrak, b§raœka®h, TWAT 1 808-41; W. Schenk, Der Segen im Neuen Testament, 1967; J. Schreiner, “Segen, für die Völker,” BZ 6, 1962, 1-31; E. Schweizer, “Formgeschichtliches zu den Seligpreisungen Jesu,” NTS 19, 1973, 121-26; G. Strecker, “Die Makarismen der Bergpredigt”, NTS 17, 1971, 233-54; C. Westermann, Der Segen in der Bibel und im Handeln der Kirche, 1968; C. Westermann, U. Luck and O. Brodde, “Segen und Fluch,” EKL III 916 ff.; H. W. Wolff, “Das Kerygma des Jahwisten,” EvTh 24, 1964, 73 ff.; G. Wehmeier, Der Segen im Alten Testament. Eine Semasiologische Untersuchung der Wurzel brk, 1970.
Beatitudes Statements of blessedness, particularly those at the beginning of Jesus’ great discourse commonly called the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5) or Sermon on the Plain (Lk. 6).
I. The Name
The word “beatitude” is not used in the English Bible. It derives from the Lat beatitudo, used by the Vulgate in Rom. 4:6, 9, where, with reference to Ps. 32:1f, David is said to pronounce a “beatitude” upon a certain type of man. “Beatitude” originally meant simply “blessedness,” “happiness,” “felicity.” In church usage the term came to refer to biblical declarations of blessedness (makarisms), particularly the Psalms (32:1f; 41:1; 65:4; etc.), but especially Jesus’ pronouncements of blessing (Mt. 11:6; 13:16; 16:17; 24:46; Lk. 7:23; 10:23; 11:27f; 12:37f, 43; Jn. 13:17; 20:29). Finally the plural form became the common designation for the series of blessings beginning both accounts of Jesus’ great sermon. These beatitudes regularly consist of two clauses, the first pronouncing blessedness upon a certain type of person, the second giving the reason or ground for such blessedness: “Blessed …, for … .”
II. The Differing Forms
Comparison of the two collections of beatitudes (Mt. 5:3–12; Lk. 6:20–23 [24–26]) immediately reveals their resemblances and differences. The ordinary reader, most familiar with Matthew’s version, will notice first the differences, and will be apt to account for the discrepancy of the two reports as Augustine did, by assigning them to distinct occasions in the Lord’s ministry. However, careful comparative study of the two passages raises serious questions regarding such a view. Some have proposed a varying oral tradition to account for the differences, but most scholars conclude that these are two versions of material drawn by the Evangelists from an underlying source consisting of sayings of Jesus (see Synoptic Gospels). Numerous scholarly studies and proposals concern the extent of each Evangelist’s freedom in using the hypothetical source and the possibility that the source itself had a prior redactional history. But the hosts of hypotheses have not yielded much scholarly consensus on the origin of the two collections or their present differences.
The form of the two collections differs markedly. Luke has a very balanced and orderly form: four blessings followed by four woes — the woes being exact counterparts to the respective blessings (blessed are you poor, woe to you that are rich; blessed are you that are hungry now, woe to you that are full now; etc.). Both the blessings and the woes are addressed directly to the audience in the 2nd person. Matthew on the other hand, has a series of eight blessings in the more general 3rd person, followed by a ninth blessing in the direct 2nd person form. As to content, Luke’s first is the same as Matthew’s first; Luke’s second equals Matthew’s third; Luke’s fourth matches Matthew’s ninth. Luke’s third has no counterpart in Matthew; and Matthew’s second, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth have no counterparts in Luke.
Although Greek literature has a few formulations that suggest beatitude collections, more likely antecedents to Matthew’s and Luke’s forms are found in the OT and other Jewish literature. Schweizer (p. 122) sees Luke’s form as part of a continuation and gradual expansion of the prophetic-apocalyptic tradition of pronouncing series of woes on the hearers. Dodd has found precedents for both versions in the OT and Jewish literature. For Luke’s antithetical scheme he cites Eccl. 10:16f and rabbinic uses in TB Berakoth 61b and Yoma 87a. Dodd concludes, “The Lucan beatitudes and woes, forming a unitary whole, are composed on a well-established literary pattern” (p. 4). Dodd has more difficulty in finding parallels for Matthew’s form, but he notes that some of the Psalms have at least a series of two beatitudes, e.g., Ps. 32:1f; 84:4f, 12; sometimes the whole Psalm is simply an expansion of an initial beatitude, e.g., Ps. 112. But the closest literary analogy to Matthew’s form he finds in Sir. 25:7–11, where, although the actual beatitude formula occurs only twice, in effect there is a series of ten beatitude statements. Dodd finds that “Matthew and the son of Sirach are composing within the same literary genre” (p. 7). He advises caution in drawing conclusions from the two literary forms of the Beatitudes: “Perhaps we can with confidence say little more than that when the tradition emerges into our ken, the Beatitudes had already taken two diverse forms represented by Matthew and Luke respectively. In that sense both are ‘primitive’. But whether these traditional forms reflect distinct modes of presentation by the Lord himself on different occasions, or whether they developed in the course of giving shape to the Church’s recollections of his teaching, is a question more difficult to answer” (pp. 9f).
III. The Differing Emphases
The beatitudes in the two collections as well as the single pronouncements of beatitudes found throughout the NT are expressions of the distinctive religious joy that comes to one sharing in the salvation of the kingdom of God. The beatitudes often resemble sacred paradoxes. For those who are citizens of God’s kingdom, human estimations and values are radically reversed: the hungry, the meek, and weeping, the persecuted are pronounced blessed. In striking ways the beatitudes present the consolation and the challenge of the kingdom that Christ was bringing.
A. Luke The beatitude collections in Matthew and Luke betray different emphases. Luke’s emphasis is on the great reversal in personal and social relationships that the arrival of the kingdom will bring. The contrast between the present situation and that to come is expressed by the future tense of the verbs and is heightened by the fourfold occurrence of “now” in vv 21 and 25. It is further heightened by the woes upon the counterparts of the blessed and the portrayal of the great reversal to come upon them in the eschaton. The poor, the hungry, the weeping, and the hated are pronounced blessed, but the rich, the full, the jovial, and the well-accepted are candidates for woe. Luke’s words suggest social categories; no qualifying terms suggest religious commitment or a spiritualizing of the stance.
In Luke the sermon containing this beatitude collection is delivered on the plain where Jesus meets the crowds, after having returned from the hills where he chose his twelve disciples (6:17). Hence, Luke gives the sermon a general thrust, and it seems to speak of the broadest categories — the poor, the rich. His version is thus open to misunderstanding as presenting an “opiate of the people” type of religion: the poor and weeping will get their reward in the next life. The fact that Jesus “lifted up his eyes on his disciples” (v 20a) immediately before speaking the beatitudes and woes in Luke’s account does not limit Jesus’ words to being specific instruction for the disciples alone. Their whole content is the broad address to the crowds on the plain.
Dupont proposes that the theological milieu for the Lucan beatitudes is not so much the Galilean plain, the mixed crowd, and the imminence of the messianic kingdom. Rather, Luke sees the social condition of the primitive Church in Acts, the poor saints of Jerusalem and the outcasts of this world. Here the poor, the hungry, the afflicted, and the dishonored have a theological interpretation; they are blessed because they cannot and do not live for this world but remain faithful to the Lord as they await their pleasures in the next life. As Dupont points out, this combination of social justice and Christian asceticism, together with an expectation of greater reward in the next life than in the present messianic kingdom, is typical of Luke’s Gospel (cf. the rich man and Lazarus, 16:19–31; the dishonest steward, 16:1–15; the Baptist’s advice to the crowd, 3:10–14; and Mary’s song, 1:46–55). Luke’s beatitudes offer eschatological consolation to suffering Christians.
If Luke’s beatitudes present eschatological consolation, Matthew’s beatitudes present eschatological challenge. There is an ethical emphasis in Matthew, with no suggestion of a reversal in conditions or roles. The merciful, the pure of heart, and the peacemakers are pronounced blessed with no implications of their having afflications from which one might anticipate alleviation. Rather, their behavior is clearly indicative of conduct that meets with God’s approval and characteristic of eschatological blessedness in the kingdom of heaven. While the persecuted in Luke’s setting could look forward to release from an unfavorable situation (Lk. 6:23), in Matthew’s setting the persecution is “for righteousness’ sake” (5:10), stressing the ethical quality of the martyr’s sufferings. The next beatitude, in the 2nd person address of its Lucan counterpart, does not direct the attention of the persecuted to “that day” as in Luke; rather, they are to “rejoice and be glad” (by implication “now”) as they find themselves in the situation of the prophets before them (Mt. 5:12). The “mourners” who shall be “comforted” (5:4) are reminiscent of the many during prophetic times who mourned over the sins of the covenant people and whom the prophets promised comfort (cf. Isa. 57:18; 61:2f; Joel 2:12–14). Mourning thus suggests the present life of penitence for personal and national sin.
Nowhere is the ethical emphasis of Matthew’s collection seen more clearly than in his beatitudes about the poor and the hungry. The poor in Matthew are “the poor in spirit,” the pious and humble poor of a host of OT passages. By the times of later Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the postexilic Psalms, the term “poor” could be the practical equivalent of “the truly devout Israelite.” Their poverty in spirit contrasts not with material riches or intellectual wealth, but with those who are rich in religious knowledge and achievement (TDNT, VI, 401 [E. Schweizer]). Matthew’s poor are those whose sole help is God and who stand poverty-stricken in their own achievements. They are the humble and lowly as opposed to the Pharisees with their self-esteem and religious accomplishments. As for the hungry, in Matthew they hunger and thirst for righteousness. Hunger and thirst are spiritualized, indicating a driving desire for righteousness. Whether this righteousness is that which is the gift of salvation from God, or the righteousness that is the human activity of actualizing God’s ways in our lives, is a question for continued scholarly debate (cf. Strecker, p. 265, and n 1). Either way, the beatitude has an ethical thrust, for the righteousness that is a gift yields the activity of actualizing that salvation which has been given.
Matthew’s beatitudes suggest more clearly than Luke’s the inaugurated presence of God’s kingdom in Jesus’ present ministry. Luke stresses the future consummation of the kingdom that will come with the great reversal. Matthew’s collection begins and ends (except for the added 2nd person beatitude) with the promises “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (vv 3, 10). Clearly this is programmatic for the construction of the Matthean series. Matthew’s beatitudes proclaim eschatological fact and eschatological promise. They present the challenge to actuate here and now what is ours as citizens of God’s kingdom through Christ. However the differing forms of the two collections in Matthew and Luke are to be accounted for, there are clearly two distinct emphases. The two collections reflect the two poles of the “already but not yet” nature of God’s kingdom through Christ.
Bibliography.—J. W. Bowman, Review and Expositor, 54 (1975), 377–392; G. Braumann, NovTest, 4 (1960), 253–260; C. H. Dodd, More NT Studies (1968), pp. 1–10; J. Dupont, Les Béatitudes (2nd ed 1969); E. Schweizer, NTS, 19 (1973), 121–26; G. Strecker, NTS, 17 (1971), 255–275; TDNT, IV, sv μαχάριος χτλ. (Hauck, Bertram).
W. P. DeBoer
Bless [Heb bāraḵ—‘bend the knee’ (?); Aram beraḵ; Gk eulogéō—‘speak well of’]; NEB also GIVE, GRANT, BRING, INVOKE, SAY, or SHARE A BLESSING, WORSHIP, PRAISE, GREET, CONGRATULATE, etc.; BLESSED [Heb ’ašrê, bārûḵ; Aram berîḵ (Dnl. 3:28), meḇāraḵ (Dnl. 2:20); Gk eulogētós, makários, makarízō—‘call blessed’ (Lk. 1:48), eneulogéō (Acts 3:25; Gal. 3:8)]; NEB also HAPPY, etc.; BLESSING [Heb berāḵâ; Gk eulogía]; AV also MERCIES, GIFT, GRACE, BLESSEDNESS, etc.; NEB also FAVOR, PRAISE, HAPPINESS, etc. Several meanings occur, including “worship or praise,” “bestow favor and goodness (sufficient to warrant adoration),” and “invoke such benefits upon other.” (Cf. Akk karābu, which encompasses these meanings.) Substantively, blessing is praise or favor, the act of bestowing such, or statement accompanying or recommending worship or beneficence.
When a human blesses God, the literal sense “bend the knee (in homage or adoration)” is expressed, indicating gratitude. Expressions of praise are especially frequent in the poetry and include appeals for worship by the speaker (Ps. 103:1f; 104:1, 35) and others (Jgs. 5:2; AV “offered themselves”; Ps. 66:8; 67:5; 68:26 [MT 27]), as well as pledges of praise (Ps. 26:12; 63:4 [MT 5]; 115:18). These acts are often accompanied by relative clauses indicating the basis for the adulation (Gen. 24:48). Such statements often occur in liturgical settings (Dt. 11:29; NEB “pronounce the blessing”; 2 Ch. 20:26; Sir 50:20). In wisdom literature, the author praises the source of his inspiration (Sir. 39:35; 50:22; 51:12). Isaiah reproves those who worship idols (66:3; RSV “bless a monster”).
Statements of adoration or praise frequently follow a standard pattern or formula of blessing, as “blessed is” or “blessed be [someone],” usually expressed by passive participles, Heb bārûḵ and Gk eulogēmémos (Ruth 4:14; 1 S. 25:32; 1 Ch. 29:10; Neh. 9:5; Mt. 25:34). When applied to God, they have the jussive sense “let us praise” or “let be praised” (Gen. 14:20; Ps. 28:6). NT utterances apply similarly to Jesus (“he who comes in the name of the Lord,” Mt. 2:19; 23:39; Mk. 11:9; Lk. 19:38; Jn. 12:13), Mary (Lk. 1:42), and the kingdom of God (Mk. 11:10). God is often so cited in statements using Gk eulogētós (Lk. 1:68; 2 Cor. 1:3; Eph. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:3).
More frequently, to bless means to grant prosperity or well-being (“fortunate power,” KoB, p. 153), and God is generally the subject, bestowing physical and spiritual grace upon man in the form of long life, affluence, and power (Gen. 39:5; Ps. 3:8 [MT 9]; 24:5; 129:8). He blesses mankind in creation (Gen. 5:2) and throughout history (26:3; Ex. 18:10). Such acts often provide fertility for man (Gen. 1:28; 17:16; 20; 22:17; 48:4), animals (1:22), and various forms of produce (Ex. 23:25; Dt. 7:13; Ps. 65:10 [MT 11]; 132:15). God blesses man for keeping His laws, implying sanction (Dt. 7:12–14; cf. Ex. 23:25).
People often bless each other, as when a father transfers goods and authority to his children prior to his death (Gen. 27; 31:55 [MT 32:1]; 48:9, 15, 20; 49:28; Dt. 33:1ff; He. 11:20). This is accompanied by an invocation of God’s favor upon one’s descendants (Gen. 49:25f; Dt. 33). Division of one’s power and property among several children may have been possible, as suggested by Esau’s request (Gen. 27:38). A family blesses members embarking on a journey (Gen. 24:60). Charismatic leaders bless the people (Lev. 9:23), as priests bless individuals (1 S. 2:20) and the entire congregation (Nu. 6:23–27; 2 Ch. 30:27). Balaam, the non-Israelite seer, blesses Israel (Nu. 23:11, 20) by announcing good fortune.
When people bless one another, they commend the recipient to God through laudatory petitions (Ruth 2:20; 1 S. 23:21; 2 S. 2:5; cf. Gen. 49:26; Ps. 72:15). Such petitions may include the formula “blessed be [someone]” or such variants as “may you be blessed” (Ruth 3:10) and “let … be blessed” (Prov. 5:18). God is recognized as the source of such benefits (cf. 1 S. 2:20), indicated by Heb bāraḵ bešēm, “bless by (or in) God’s name” (Dt. 10:8; 21:5; 1 Ch. 23:13; Sir. 45:15; cf. Nu. 6:27). Such intercessory activity may include praying for another person (Mt. 5:44, RSV; cf. He. 11:20). Jesus instructs His followers to “bless those that curse you” (Lk. 6:28; Rom. 12:14; 1 Cor. 4:12). Invocation of God’s blessing upon others may have been standardized in expressions of greeting or congratulation (1 S. 13:10; 2 S. 8:10 par 1 Ch. 18:10; 2 K. 4:29; 10:15); the content of such statements may be indicated by Ruth 2:4; Ps. 129:8.
The sense “praise, do homage” may be indicated when men bless those of higher status (Gen. 47:7, 10; cf. Ex. 12:32). This is apparent when it is reported that Joab “fell on his face, did obeisance, and blessed the king” (2 S. 14:22). A debtor may bless a creditor (Dt. 24:15) and a subject bless his king (1 K. 8:66), perhaps seeking a blessing in return. The king’s servants bless David (1 K. 1:47), asking God to make Solomon greater than David.
Men also bless themselves. In such instances, they may either “count themselves happy” (Ps. 49:18 [MT 19], AV “blessed his soul”), priding themselves on having been favored (cf. Dt. 29:19; NEB “inwardly flatter”), or invoke God’s blessing upon themselves (Gen. 12:3, NEB “pray to be blessed”).
Both God and men occasionally bless nonhuman objects. God blesses the sabbath (Gen. 2:3; Ex. 20:11) and Samuel blesses the sacrifice (1 S. 9:13), but they may thereby indirectly bless those who observe these occasions. God blesses work performed by men (Dt. 28:8, 12; Job 1:10; cf. Dt. 28:4f) and “the latter days of (Job’s) life” (Job 42:12). He also favors the abode of the righteous (Prov. 3:33) and the habitation of righteousness, the land of Judah (Jer. 31:23). Objects of blessing may include qualities, such as discretion (1 S. 25:33). Jesus blesses fish (Mk. 8:7) and, in the sense of giving thanks, bread (Mk. 6:41). Cf. also Blessing, Cup of (1 Cor. 10:16).
The state of being blessed, designated by a passive verb, may indicate receipt of both favor (Gen. 27:33; 2 S. 7:39) and adoration (Job. 1:21; Ps. 113:2). Gk eneulogēthḗsontai is used to indicate the universal application of Abraham’s blessing (Acts 3:25; Gal. 3:8; cf. LXX Gen. 12:3; 18:18). Heb ’ašrê and Gk makários occur primarily with the sense “happy, fortunate,” illustrating the joy of life unmarred by care, labor, or death. Generally found in blessing formulas, these expressions indicate the subject’s having fulfilled certain obligations or stipulations. In the OT these include coming to Zion (Ps. 65:4 [MT 5]; 84:4 [MT 5]), being blameless in behavior (Ps. 119:1f), seeking God’s wisdom (Prov 8:13, 33f), and executing God’s judgment against His enemies (Ps. 137:8). By extension of this principle, children of “a righteous man who walks in integrity” are blessed (Prov. 20:17). In the NT the blessed exhibit the traits of the faithful (Mt. 5:11; Lk. 11:28; Rev. 16:15), particularly suffering (Jas. 1:12; Lk. 6:20–22). The condition may be shared by parts of the body (Mt. 13:16; Lk. 10:23; 11:27). Generally applied to God with the sense “praised” or “praiseworthy” (Tim. 1:11; 6:15), Gk makários occurs in the same sense with reference to actions (Acts 20:35) and qualities (Tit. 2:13). The rewards that accompany such favor are often reserved for the future (Ps. 128:2–4). See also Beatitudes.
A related concept is a person’s being named or called blessed (Heb ’āšār; Gk makarízō). A woman’s children call her blessed (Prov. 31:28) and the nations call God blessed (Ps. 72:17; Mal. 3:12); all generations will call Mary blessed (Lk. 1:48). Such acts may illustrate the close relationship between word and fact in the ancient Near East whereby making a statement establishes the fact (see Curse). They may also indicate use of the blessing formula. A person can “be a blessing” if his acts warrant his being named in such a formula (Gen. 12:2; Ps. 37:26; Prov. 10:7; Isa. 19:24; Zec. 8:13; cf. Ps. 21:6 [MT 7]).
“Blessed” occurs substantively as a substitute for God’s name, as in the use of “Lord,” to prevent defilement of the name Yahweh. In Mk. 14:61, Jesus is called “son of the Blessed.” The substantive also designates one who adheres to God’s commandments and has received His favor, as “the blessed of the Lord” (Gen. 24:31; 26:29; Isa. 65:16) or “the blessed of my father” (Mt. 25:34).
“Blessing” may designate the actual words spoken (“blessed be [someone]” or similar phrases), the gift that is given, or the act by which it is bestowed. Dt. 33:1 indicates that the following statement contains Moses’ very words and also outlines the nature of the blessing. Both the words uttered and the power or gifts evoked by their pronouncement are implied in the fathers’ blessings (Gen. 48:15f; 49) and elsewhere (Dt. 28:2; Prov 10:6; 11:11, 26; 24:25; cf. Nu. 6:23–27), as when a person blesses “with a blessing” (Gen. 27:41; 49:28). The act of blessing and the powers that emanate from it are indicated in Prov. 10:22 and when God commands a blessing (Lev. 25:21; Dt. 28:8; Ps. 133:3). God’s power and its effect may be identical (Ezk. 34:26; Sir. 40:27). Apparently in some instances a token gift or present accompanied the pronouncement of a blessing (AV Gen. 33:11; Josh. 15:19; Jgs. 1:15; RSV “gift, present”; cf. 2 K. 5:15). The words alone are designated in Prov. 10:7 (cf. Ps. 37:26; Mal. 2:2).
Blessing is common in Israelite liturgy, generally paired with the pronouncement of curses (Dt. 11:29; Josh. 8:34; cf. Dt. 27:12f). God’s favor is a positive sanction of one who follows His commandments as stipulated in the laws of the pertinent covenant. Man may choose to follow the law or not and thereby determine his reward (Dt. 11:26; 30:1, 19). Similar sanctions are found in ancient Near Eastern treaties. Occasionally Heb bāraḵ is used euphemistically for ’ārar and qālal, “curse” (1 K. 21:10, 23; Job 1:5, 11; 2:5, 9; Ps. 10:3; RSV “curses the Lord”; AV “blesses the covetous”; NEB “gives wickedness his blessing”). A negative form of the blessing formula occurs in Jer. 17:7, “let it not be blessed.”
Although the blessing granted by Isaac to Jacob is irrevocable (Gen. 27:33–35), a curse may be transformed into a blessing (Dt. 23:5 [MT 6]; Jgs. 17:2; Neh. 13:2). Blessings may be cursed (Mal. 2:2).
“Blessedness” (Gk makarismós) is rendered only by the AV in Rom. 4:6, 9 (RSV “pronounce a blessing,” “the blessing pronounced”; NEB “happiness”) and Gal. 4:13 (RSV “satisfaction”; NEB “how happy you thought you were”).
“Most blessed” (AV Ps. 37:26; Prov. 10:6) translates Heb liḇrāḵâ, lit “for a blessing.”
Bibliography.—Bless: CAD, VIII, sv “karābu”; F. C. Fensham, ZAW, 74 (1962), 1–9; ILC, I–II, 182–212; A. Murtonen, VT, 9 (1959), 157–177; TDNT, II, sv εὐλογέω (Beyer); TDOT, II, sv “brk” (Scharbert); G. Weimeier, Der Segen im AT (1970).
Blessed: W. Janzen, HTR, 58 (1965), 215–226; TDNT, IV, sv μαχάριοϚ (Bertram, Hauck); TDOT, I, sv “’ashrê” (Cazelles); W. S. Towner, CBQ, 30 (1968), 386–399.
Blessing: F. M. Cross and D. N. Freedman, JBL, 67 (1948), 191–210; T. H. Gaster, JBL, 66 (1947), 53–62; E. M. Good, JBL, 82 (1963), 427–432; L. J. Liebrich, JBL, 74 (1955), 33–36; D. J. McCarthy, Analecta Biblica, 21 (1963); G. E. Mendenhall, BA, 17 (1954), 50–76; H. Mowvley, Bible Translator, 16 (1965), 74–80; C. Westermann, Der Segen in der Bibel und im Handeln der Kirche (1968).
A. C. Myers
Blessing, Cup of [Gk tó potḗrion tḗs eulogías—‘the consecrated cup’] (1 Cor. 10:16). A technical term from the Jewish meals transferred to the Lord’s supper, and signifying the cup of wine upon which a blessing was pronounced. The succeeding words, “which we bless,” are equivalent to “for which we give thanks,” for it was consecrated by thanksgiving and prayer. It is possible that the term here has a further significance, as a cup that brings blessing. See also Cup.
Greet; Greeting [Heb šā˒al lešālôm] (1 S. 10:4; 17:22; 25:5; 2 S. 8:10; 1 Ch. 18:10); AV also SALUTE, “enquire of his welfare” (1 Ch. 18:10); [bāraḵ] (2 K. 10:15); AV SALUTE; [Aram šelām] (Ezr. 4:17); AV “Peace”; [Gk aspázomai] (Mk. 9:15; Lk. 1:40; Acts 18:22; 21:7, 19; etc.); AV also SALUTE, EMBRACE (He. 11:13); NEB also WELCOME (Mk. 9:15), “pay respects” (Acts 18:22), HAIL (He. 11:13), etc.; [aspasmós] (Lk. 1:29, 41, 44; 1 Cor. 16:21; Col. 4:18; 2 Thess. 3:17); AV SALUTATION; [chaírō] (Acts 15:23; 23:26; Jas. 1:1; 2 Jn. 10f); AV also BID GOD SPEED (2 Jn. 10f); NEB omits in Acts 23:26. (In Isa. 14:9 the RSV supplies “greet,” the NEB “meet”; the AV “for thee” is to be preferred; in Ezr. 4:11 the RSV supplies “send greeting.”)
The OT has no word for “greet” or “greeting.” Bāraḵ means “bless.” The expression šā˒al lešālôm, however, was a form of greeting. Šā˒al means to “ask” and šālôm denotes “peace, prosperity, well-being”; thus šā˒al lešālôm means to “inquire about one’s welfare.” Elsewhere the RSV translates this expression literally, e.g., Gen. 43:27; Ex. 18:7; 2 S. 11:7. Other greetings OT are: “Is it well with you, my brother?” (Heb hašālôm ˒attâ ˒āḥî, 2 S. 20:9), “The Lord be with you!” (YHWH ˓immāḵem, Ruth 2:4), “The Lord bless you!” (yeḇāreḵeḵā YHWH, Ruth 2:4), “The blessing of the Lord be upon you!” (birkaṯ YHWH ˒alêḵem, Ps. 129:8), etc. For the king the greeting was “Long live the king!” (yeḥî hammeleḵ, 1 S. 10:24, etc.; cf. 1 K. 1:31, “May my Lord King David live for ever!”).
In the NT the usual word for “greeting” is aspasmós (cf. vb aspázomai). A frequent form of greeting is chaírō (“rejoice”); the infinitive, chaírein, and imperative, chaíre, chaírete (lit “Rejoice!” “Joy to you!”), are frequently translated “Hail!” or “All Hail!” (Mt. 26:49; 27:29; 28:9; Mk. 15:18; Lk. 1:28; Jn. 19:3). (Cf. TDNT, IX, 367.) When Jesus sent forth His disciples they were to “salute” the house they came to (Mt. 10:12), saying, “Peace [eiré̄nē] be to this house!” (Lk. 10:5). After His resurrection Jesus greeted His disciples saying, “Peace be with you” (eirḗnē hymín, Jn. 20:19, 21, 26). He left His “peace” (eiré̄nē) with them — “not as the world gives,” in merely a formal way — as His parting blessing (Jn. 14:27). As used in these NT greetings, eiré̄nē has a far broader meaning than our Eng. “peace.” This Greek term was used in the LXX to translate Heb šālôm and thus it took on the meaning of that term. In greetings it generally denotes well-being or salvation (TDNT, II, 411–17).
Epistolary greetings are found in the OT, the Apocrypha, and the NT. The Aram šelām (cognate of Heb šālôm) occurs in Ezr. 4:17; 5:7; Dnl. 4:1 (MT 3:31); 6:25 (MT 26). In the Apocrypha chaírō is frequent (1 Esd. 6:8; 8:9; 1 Macc. 10:18; etc.). The same form is used in Acts 15:23; 23:26. 3 John closes with “Peace [eiré̄nē] be to you. The friends greet [aspázomai] you” (v 15). Paul opened most of his letters with the special Christian greeting, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; etc.); most of them close with “The grace of the Lord Jesus (Christ) be with you” (1 Cor. 16:23; 2 Cor. 13:14; etc.). He also sent greetings from those who were with him and directed that greetings be given to various persons (Rom. 16:3–23; 1 Cor. 16:19f; 2 Cor. 13:12f; Phil. 4:21f; Col. 4:10–15; etc.). In these cases the word is aspázomai.
See also Epistle; God Speed; Kiss; Salutation.
See TDNT, II, sv εἰρήνη (Foerster).
W. L. Walker
Praise A word derived from Lat pretium, “price” or “value”; thus it may be defined generally as an ascription of value or worth. It is typified by the doxologies to God and to the Lamb in Rev. 4:11; 5:9f, 12, which are inspired by a sense of their worthiness to be adored. Praise of God is a prominent theme throughout the Scriptures, for it is the appropriate response of God’s creatures to His majesty and His saving deeds.
The RSV uses “praise” to render a variety of Hebrew and Greek terms, including both verbs and nouns. In the OT the verb most often represents the piel of Heb hālal (also pual [e.g., Ps. 18:3 (MT 4)] and hithpael [e.g., Prov. 31:30]). The hiphil of yāḏâ (lit “praise,” “confess,” “give thanks”; cf. noun tôḏâ, “thanksgiving”) and the piel of zāmar (lit “sing praise [accompanied by stringed instruments]”; e.g., Ps. 7:17 [MT 18]) are also frequently rendered “praise.” Other verbs include the piel of šāḇaḥ (lit “praise, glorify”; e.g., Ps. 63:3 [MT 4]; 117:1; 147:12; cf Aram šeḇaḥ, Dnl. 2:23; etc.) and the piel of rānan (lit “shout with joy”; e.g., “joyously praise,” Ps. 89:12 [MT 13]). The noun “praise” most often represents tehillâ (“praise,” “song of praise”), which is derived from hālal (cf. also hillûlîm, Lev. 19:24); zāmîr (“song of praise”; e.g., Ps. 95:2) is derived from zāmar.
In the NT “praise” translates the Greek verbs ainéō (lit “extol, glorify”; e.g., Lk. 2:13, 20; 19:37; Acts 2:47; 3:8f; Rom. 15:11), doxázō (lit “extol, honor”; Mt. 6:2; Lk. 13:13; 17:15; 23:47; Acts 4:21), epainéō (lit “approve, praise”; Rom. 15:11), exomologéomai (lit “confess, praise”; Rom. 14:11; 15:9), hymnéō (lit “sing hymns of praise”; He. 2:12), and psállō (lit “play a stringed instrument,” “sing to a harp”; RSV “sing praise,” Jas. 5:13). It also renders the nouns épainos (lit “approval, praise”; Rom. 2:29; Eph. 1:6, 12, 14; etc.), dóxa (lit “glory”; Lk. 17:18; Jn. 9:24; 12:43), aínos (Mt. 21:16; Lk. 18:43), and aínēsis (He. 13:15).
II. With Human Beings as Object
Although the Scriptures direct praise overwhelmingly toward God rather than mankind, there are occasional references to human beings as an object of praise. Such praise may be given either by God or by other persons. Praise that comes from God is inevitably just and is greatly to be desired (cf. Rom. 2:29; 1 Cor. 4:5; 1 Pet. 1:7). Human praise can be a blessing and a mark of divine favor (cf. Gen. 49:8; Dt. 26:19; 32:43; Zeph. 3:19f). It has value only when it coincides with divine approval. Praise is appropriate when it is a natural response to beauty (e.g., Gen. 12:15; 2 S. 14:25; Cant. 6:9), to good deeds (e.g., Prov. 31:28f, 31), to fear of the Lord (v 30), or to right action (1 Pet. 2:14; cf. Rom. 13:3). On the other hand, only lawbreakers praise the wicked (Prov. 28:4; cf. Ps. 73:10), and there is a praise that is itself a condemnation (cf. Prov. 27:21; Lk. 6:26). Jesus warned His followers against loving “the praise of men” more than “the praise of God” (Jn. 12:43; cf. Mt. 6:2; Gal. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4–6).
III. With God as Object
The praise of God is a characteristic feature of biblical piety. Its importance in Hebrew worship is nowhere more evident than in the book of Psalms, a late Hebrew title of which is tehillîm, “praises.” The Hebrew term mizmôr, a derivative of zāmar, occurs in fifty-seven Psalm titles (LXX psalmós, lit “song sung to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument”; RSV “psalm”); the expression halelû-yāh (RSV “Praise the Lord!”; see Hallelujah) occurs twenty-four times in the Psalter as a call to praise. The NT, likewise, resounds with outbursts of praise, e.g., in the doxologies of the book of Revelation (cf. 4:8, 11; 5:9–14; 15:3f; 19:1–8).
A. Those Who Render Praise The Bible declares that the whole earth praises God (e.g., Ps. 48:10 [MT 11]; 89:12 [MT 13]; cf. 19:1–4 [MT 2–5]; Rev. 5:11–14), and it summons all creatures in heaven and earth to praise Him (cf. Ps. 69:34 [MT 35]; 89:5 [MT 6]), including the angels (e.g., 89:5 [MT 6]; 148:1f; cf. 103:20), the animals (e.g., 148:10), and inanimate beings such as the heavenly bodies (vv 3f), the seas (v 7), and the mountains and trees (v 9). But the Scriptures are principally concerned with the praise rendered to God by human beings. They summon not only God’s own people (cf. Ps. 22:22–25 [MT 23–26]; 30:4 [MT 5]; 113:1; 135:1f; etc.; cf. Isa. 12:5f; Rev. 19:5), but all peoples and nations (Ps. 66:1–4, 8; 67:3–5 [MT 4–6]; 117:1; etc.; cf. Isa. 42:10–12), to praise Him.
B. Grounds for Praise The Scriptures declare God’s greatness as manifested both in nature and in history. The OT praises God as the Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of the world (e.g., 1 Ch. 16:25–34; Ps. 47:6f [MT 7f]; 95:1–5; 99:1–5; 104; 148). Above all, it praises Him for His faithfulness, righteousness, and steadfast love displayed in mighty acts of salvation on behalf of His people (e.g., 1 Ch. 16:9; Ps. 9:1f, 11, 14 [MT 2f, 12, 15]; 71:14–16; 106:1f; Isa. 63:7; Jer. 31:7; Joel 2:26). God is praised because He is a Fortress and Savior to those in distress (Ps. 59:16f [MT 17f]; 71:7f, 23; Jer. 20:13), e.g., to the imprisoned (Ps. 102:18–20 [MT 19–21]; Isa. 61:1–3) and the poor (e.g., Ps. 113; Isa. 25:1, 4).
In the NT praise resounds at Jesus’ birth (Lk. 2:13, 20), entrance into Jerusalem (19:37; Mt. 21:16), and death (Lk. 23:47). Many of those who experience healing through the mighty works of Jesus and His disciples burst into spontaneous praise of God (Lk. 13:13; 17:15–18; 18:43; Acts 3:8f; 4:21; etc.). The authors of the Epistles likewise praise God for His salvation and, with the psalmists, summon believers and all peoples to praise God with their voices and lives (cf. Rom. 4:11; 15:9, 11; Eph. 1:6, 12, 14; Phil. 1:11; He. 2:12; 13:15; Jas. 5:13).
C. Modes of Praise True praise of God, as distinguished from false praise (Isa. 29:13; cf. Mt. 15:8), is first of all an inward emotion of Joy (cf. 2 Ch. 29:30; Ps. 4:7 [MT 8]; 33:1f; 63:5 [MT 6]; 67:3–5 [MT 4–6]; 71:23; 95:1f; etc.), a gladness that no language can adequately express (Ps. 106:2; cf. 2 Cor. 9:15). But it is natural to give expression to such emotion and to call upon others — e.g., the whole congregation of worshipers — to join in praising God. Thus the mouth expresses the praise of the heart (cf. Ps. 51:15 [MT 17]; 71:8) by telling about the great things that God has done (Ps. 22:22–25 [MT 23–26]; 34:1–3; 107:32; Lk. 18:43; 19:37f; etc.; cf. Ps. 40:9f [MT 10f]), by shouting for joy (cf. Ps. 81:1 [MT 2]; Isa. 42:11f; 44:23; 48:20), and by singing joyful songs of praise (e.g., 2 S. 22:50; 1 Ch. 16:9; Ps. 7:17 [MT 18]; 9:2, 11 [MT 3, 12]; 18:49 [MT 50]; 30:4 [MT 5]; 40:3 [MT 4]; 147:1 [MT 2]; Jas. 5:13). New acts of salvation call for new songs of praise (Ps. 33:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1; Rev. 14:3; cf. also Ex. 15:1–18, 21; Jgs. 5; Lk. 1:46–55; Rev. 5:9f; etc.). Praise is also commonly expressed through dance and the playing of musical instruments (e.g., cf. Ex. 15:20; 2 S. 6:14; Ps. 33:28; 43:4; 71:22; 149:3; 150).
Although music and song always played an important role in Israel’s worship, the Chronicler reports that it was King David who first appointed Levites and priests to “minister continually before the ark” with song and musical instruments (cf. 1 Ch. 16:4–42; 23:5, 30; 25:1–8). David also contributed to a fixed order of cultic praise through his considerable influence on the development of the Psalter (see Psalms III.C). David’s instructions were followed by Solomon after the completion of the temple (2 Ch. 5:11–13; 7:6; 8:14; cf. 20:19, 21f), by Hezekiah’s reform movement (29:27–30; 30:21; 31:2), and by the postexilic community (Ezr. 3:10f; Neh. 12:24, 45f).
In the NT singing continued to be an important means of expressing praise (cf. Mt. 26:30; the “hymn” sung by Jesus and His disciples was probably from the Hallel). The earliest Christians worshiped with their fellow Jews at the temple and synagogue (cf. Acts 2:46f; 3:1; 13:14f; etc.). Even after they were expelled by the Jews and forced to make their own provisions for worship, they continued to draw upon their Jewish inheritance — especially the Psalter — for forms of praise. But their new experience of God’s grace in Jesus Christ also required the composition of new songs of praise (cf. 1 Cor. 14:26; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Rev. 5:9f; etc.), and the text of the NT contains several examples of hymns that were probably used in the formal worship of the early Church (see Hymns in the NT).
See also Music; Psalms; Song; Worship.
Bibliography.—A. A. Anderson, Book of Psalms, I (NCBC, repr 1981), 32–36; DNTT, III, 816–19; NBD, sv (R. S. Wallace); G. von Rad, OT Theology, I (Engtr 1962), 356–370; TDNT, I, sv αἰνέω, αἰ̄νος (H. Schlier); II, sv ἔπαινος (H. Preisker); VII, sv ὕμνος, ὑμνεχω, ψάλλω, ψαλμός (G. Delling); TDOT, III, sv “hll I and II” (H. Ringgren); IV, sv “zmr” (C. Barth).
J. C. Lambert
B. L. Martin
Posted 21 February 2013 - 03:38 PM
Wow, that was really unprofessional of Zondervan to add all of those smiley faces with sunglasses in their dictionary.
- Dan Francis likes this
Director of Marketing
Posted 21 February 2013 - 03:43 PM
Is there some resource in Accordance or in my current software that can turn transliterated Biblical Gk back to non-transliterated Gk words? Reply either here on Accordance forums or in What lexicon to use with UBS Handbook set?
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