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δεισιδαιμονια, which he resolves into φοβος Θεου η daquovwv, the fear of God, or of demons.
Now, it has been shewn that, among pagans, in the common acceptation of dayuwv, the meaning was favourable. It is acknowledged that deloidawwv was also susceptible of a bad meaning, answering to our word superstitious. Further, I readily admit that the Apostle would not probably have used that term in speaking of either Jews or Christians, because he did not consider the dayuoves as objects of their veneration. At the same time, he knew that, in addressing the Athenians, he employed a term which could not be offensive to them. Indeed, his manner of introducing his subject, shews a desire of softening the disapprobation which his words imply, and from which he took occasion to expound the principles of a more sublime theology. The Athenians gloried in the character of being more religious, devoidaquovesepol, than any other Grecian state. Paul's concession of this point in their favour, would rather gratify than offend them, and would serve to alleviate the censure of carrying their religion to excess. Every thing, in the turn of his expression, shews that it was his intention to tell them, in the mildest terms, what he found censurable in their devotion, and thence to take occasion of preaching to them the only true God. Accordingly, he employed a word, which he knew no pagan could take amiss; and to denote the excess with which he thought them chargeable, he chose to use the comparative degree, which was the gentlest manner of doing it. Nay, he even abates the import of the comparative, by the particle 6s. Beza has properly rendered the expression, quasi religiosiores. The version, too superstitious, not only deviates from the intention of the speaker, but includes a gross im. propriety, as it implies that it is right to be superstitious to a certain degree, and that the error lies in exceeding that degree : whereas, in the universal acceptation of the English term, all superstition is excess, and therefore faulty.
As to the noun droidaquovia, in the only place of Scripture where it occurs, it is mentioned as used by a heathen, in relation to the Jewish religion. Festus, the president, when he acquainted king Agrippa concerning Paul, at that time his prisoner, says that he found the accusation brought against him, by his countrymen, not to be such as he had expected, but to consist in ζητηματα τινα περι της ιδιας δειGidatuovias, in the English translation, certain questions of their own superstition 3s. It was not unlike a Roman magistrate to call the Jewish religion super. stition. That the Gentiles were accustomed to speak of it contemptuously, is notorious. But it should be considered, that Festus was then addressing his discourse to king Agrippa, who had come to Cesarea to congratulate him, whom he knew to be a Jew, and to whom it appears, from the whole of the story, that Festus meant to show the utmost civility. It can
not then be imagined, that he would intentionally affront a visitant of his rank, the very purpose of whose visit had been to do him honour on his promotion. That the ordinary import of the term was favourable, cannot be questioned. Diodorus Siculus, speaking of the religious service performed by the high-priest, at which the kings of Egypt were oblig. ed to be present, adds, Ταυτα δ' επραττεν, άμα μεν εις δεισιδαιμονιαν και θεοφιλη βιον τον βασιλεα προτρεπομενος 6. “ These things he did to excite the
king to a devout and pious life.” The word, therefore, ought to have been rendered religion, according to its primitive and most usual acceptation among the Greeks.
Bishop Pearce is, for aught I know, singular in thinking that της ιδιας δεισιδαιμονιας ought to be translated of a private superstition, meaning the Christian doctrine taught by Paul. But of this version the words are evidently not susceptible ; the only authority alleged is Peter, who says "', raga apoontela γραφης ιδιας επιλυσεως ου γινεται, in the common translation, No prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. Admitting that this is a just expression of the sense of that passage, the cases are not parallel. Idios has there no article. If the import of idios in the other place were private, the meaning of the phrase must not be a but the private superstition, or the private religion. Had we any evidence that this designation had been given to Christianity in the times of the Apostles, there might be some plausibility in the conjecture. But there is no trace of such a designation; and indeed it would have been exceedingly improper as applied to a doctrine, which was preached publicly every where, and of whose ministers, both Jews and Pagans complained that they turned the world upside down. There are few words in the New Testament more common than idios, but there is not a single instance wherein it is accompanied with the article, that can be rendered otherwise than his own, her own, or
36 Lib, i.
37 2 Peter, i. 20.
§ 23. So much for the distinction uniformly observed in Scripture between the words daßo2os and daquoviov; to which I shall only add, that in the ancient Syriac version, these names are always duly distinguished. The words employed in translating one of them are never used in rendering the other ; and in all the Latin translations I have seen, ancient and modern, Popish and Protestant, this distinction is carefully observed. It is observed also in Diodati's Italian version, and most of the late French versions. But in Luther's German translation, the Geneva French, and the common English, the words are confounded in the manner above observed. Some of the later English translations have corrected this error, and some have implicitly followed the common version.
The next example I shall produce of words in which, though commonly translated by the same English term, there is a real difference of signification, shall be ådns and yeevva, in the common version rendered hell. That yɛevva is employed in the New Testament to denote the place of future punishment prepared for the devil and his angels, is indisputable. In the Old Testament we do not find this place in the same manner mentioned. Accordingly the word yɛɛvva does not occur in the Septuagint. It is not a Greek word, and consequently not to be found in the Grecian classics. It is originally a compound of the two Hebrew words DJI X ge hinnom, the valley of Hinnom, a place near Jerusalem, of which we hear first in the Book of Joshua 38. It was there that the cruel sacrifices of children were made by fire to Moloch, the Ammonitish idol 39. The place was also called Tophet “, and that, as is supposed, from the noise of drums, (Toph signifying a drum,) a noise raised on purpose to drown the cries of the helpless infants. As this place was, in process of time, considered as an emblem of hell, or the place of torment reserved for
38 Jos. xv. 8. It is rendered by the 70 Jos. xviii. 16. Co-Evvolle and in some editions, reservee, hence the name in the N. T. 39 2 Chron. xxxiii, 6.
40 2 Kings, xxiii, 10.