The (not so) pagan roots of words

Written by Schalk_and_Elsa on. Posted in False teachings

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Little child praying

The community of believers has become a minefield when it comes to the use of certain words and names. The words we use have become our label. If you say a word or name in a certain way, you are judged by some as being this or that. You are immediately categorized as either pure or pagan. Does this application of knowledge really make logical sense aside from the fact that we are not to judge one another? Can we do this?

We will, in this post, explore some of these points of contention as examples to show you that we are to be very careful when we repeat things we learn without verifying it first. We shall also look at the name of Y’shua in a follow-up post.

We as Torah observant believers in Y’shua, have a responsibility to share this truth with others. What is the image, we portray to others if we do not apply sound study principles? How does it affect the credibility of the believing community when we repeat things we learn from others without verification? We all rejected the lies we were taught in the church and grasped the truth with our whole being. In our zeal for the truth, we became like sponges, absorbing every bit of knowledge we can get, unfortunately allowing lies to creep in when we don’t diligently verify what we learn.

New believers also tend to become extremists; fanatical about this brand new learned truth. There is comfort in extremism, especially after your whole belief system has been challenged and has been pulled out from under you. It takes prayer, study and guidance from YHVH’s Spirit to reach a balance and in this balance, we and the truth becomes accessible to others. Please consider what is written here and share it with others, as it is written in an attempt to bring peace.

The (not so) pagan roots of words

We have seen how much contention is caused over the use and pronunciation of certain words. There are many teachers who teach about the pagan origins of many things. Although we agree that we are to live pure lives, some are taking it a bit too far. Certain words are said to have pagan origins and are therefore forbidden to be used by believers.

Our question to you is: can we take a similar-sounding word from one language and apply the meaning of it to another language? If you answered yes, have you actually carefully considered what you are saying?

To make it easier to understand and to demonstrate the lack of logic, we could apply the same logical thought to an ordinary word that happens to overlap in two different languages. We shall use the Dutch and Afrikaans languages, as an illustration. Afrikaans is a very good example of how one language developed from others. The Dutch language is one of the mother languages of the Afrikaans language, but we also find English, German, French and Malaysian influences.

Some of the original Dutch words which are used in the Afrikaans language have, through the years, changed in meaning. A good example is the word :”verskoon” in Afrikaans and “verschoon” in Dutch. The word in Afrikaans is used if you want to ask permission to be excused, in Dutch it means to change a baby’s nappy. Imagine saying: will you please change my nappy, when leaving the dinner table? Funny, isn’t it? Does this now make it wrong to use this word in Afrikaans when you want to ask to be excused?

Some words have even become cuss words in the Afrikaans language. If you were to speak these words in Holland, it would be normal everyday words, but you would not dare to pronounce it in South Africa due to the offense it would cause. Would that make these words wrong in Holland? Are we now to remove these words from the Dutch vocabulary because it has become cuss words in Afrikaans?

Does it really matter if we say, “Amen” or “Amein” after a prayer, or if we refer to the Scriptures or the Bible, when we talk about the inspired word of YHVH? These are just two examples of words that have become some kind of a label in the believing community. We shall now look into more detail; the point being to promote proper study and the logical application of it. Hopefully, believers would become convinced of the necessity of verifying before repeating anything, and so stop some of the senseless contention.

What is the origin of the word “amen”

I have recently read an article about the proper pronunciation of the word “amen.” The author has done some investigation into the origin of the word “Amen” and found it in the ancient Egyptian language to be the name of one of their gods. The author then continued by quoting scripture, that we are not to evoke the name of other deities. He or she is correct in saying that we are not to evoke the names of other deities, but are we really?

Have you ever considered or thought about a pagan deity when using the word “amen” in your own language? We are not referring to the deliberate use of the name of a pagan deity, that is an abomination and against YHVH’s word.

A person who uses the word “Amen” is not speaking ancient Egyptian when they use this word. If you were to do a balanced study, it will prove to you that “amen” is an appropriate English translation of the Hebrew word ” ʾāman.” Would that be evoking of the name of an Egyptian god, if a proper English word was used, that just happen to be similar to the word used by Egyptians for one of their gods? I don’t think so. Here is an excerpt of some research we have done on the word.

The various derivatives of אָמַן (ʾāman) reflect the same concept of certainty and dependability. The derivative אָמֵן ʾāmēn verily is carried over into the New Testament in the word ἀμήν – amēn- (Strongs greek #281) which is our English word “amen”. Y’Shua used the word frequently (Mt 5:18, 26, etc.) to stress the certainty of a matter. The Hebrew and Greek forms come at the end of prayers and hymns of praise (Ps 41:13; 106:48; 2 Tim 4:18;Rev 22:20). This indicates that the term so used in our prayers ought to express certainty and assurance in YHVH to whom we pray. It is used after the pronouncement of solemn curses (Num 5:22; Deut 27:15ff.; Neh 5:13; Jer 11:5) and after prayers and hymns of praise (I Chr 16:36;Neh 8:6; Ps 41:13). 1

Let us look at a specific example from the book of Numbers.

Numbers 5:22
22 and this water that brings a curse shall go into your stomach, and make your abdomen swell and your thigh waste away.” And the woman shall say, “Amen. Amen.”

Underneath is a screenshot of how the word is written in the Hebrew, with the English transliteration of the word. This is how you would see it in an interlinear Bible.

clip_image002

אָמַן (ʾāman) to confirm, support, uphold (Qal); to be established, be faithful (Niphal); to be certain, i.e. to believe in (Hiphil). ASV, RSV usually the same. One notable exception is Gen 15:6 where RSV has “believed,” while ASV has “believed in.”)2

Here is an example of the word “amen” used in the Apostolic writings.

Romans 1:25
25 For they exchanged the truth of Elohim for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Here is a screenshot from the English interlinear (NASB)

clip_image004

72.6 ἀμήν: strong affirmation of what is declared—‘truly, indeed, it is true that.’ ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν ‘for I tell you the truth’ Mt 5:18;3

From this, we can see that there is no wrong in using the word “amen” when speaking English, Hebrew and even Greek. However, we recommend you not to use it when you pray to YHVH in Egyptian.

Times of reform

Have you also considered that the people of YHVH have gone through various times of return and restoration to Him? A few examples are the times of Ezra and Nehemiah and the time of King Josiah. In 2 Kings 23, we read about the reforms of King Josiah. He made a covenant with YHVH, to keep His commandments, and had ordered everything to do with pagan worship to be destroyed.

Another such reform took place in the time of Nehemiah. Some of the people who were in exile in Babylon returned and rebuilt the Temple and the city walls. The people returned to the commandments of YHVH. Some have previously married women from pagan nations. As part of this reform, these wives were sent away with their children to remove their heathen influence.

Would YHVH not use a time like this to purify His word if it had been defiled with the names of pagan deities? However, we still find the word “amen” used many times in the Tanakh.

The origin of the word “bible”

Holy Bible

Another example is the word “Bible.” We often, if not always, use the word “Bible” to refer to the inspired Scriptures, the Tanakh and the Apostolic Writings. It is said by some that we are not to use the word Bible as it has a pagan origin. The word Bible originates from the Greek word “byblos” which was the name of the ancient Phoenician port city where papyrus was made. Here is the origin according to the Merriam Webster online Dictionary.

Origin of BIBLEMiddle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin biblia, from Greek, plural of biblion book, diminutive of byblos papyrus, book, from Byblos, ancient Phoenician city from which papyrus was exported First Known Use: 14th century 4

And from the Ethymological dictionary:

Bible early 14c., from Anglo-Latin biblia, Old French bible (13c.) “the Bible,” also any large book generally, from Medieval and Late Latin biblia (neuter plural interpreted as feminine singular), in phrase biblia sacra “holy books,” a translation of Greek ta biblia to hagia “the holy books,” from Greek biblion “paper, scroll,” the ordinary word for “book,” originally a diminutive of byblos “Egyptian papyrus,” possibly so called from Byblos (modern Jebeil, Lebanon), the name of the Phoenician port from which Egyptian papyrus was exported to Greece (cf. parchment). Or the place name might be from the Greek word, which then would be probably of Egyptian origin. The Christian scripture was referred to in Greek as Ta Biblia as early as c.223. Bible replaced Old English biblioðece (see bibliothek) as the ordinary word for “the Scriptures.” Figurative sense of “any authoritative book” is from 1804.5
Byblos, modern Jbail, also spelled Jubayl, or Jebeil, biblical Gebal ancient seaport, the site of which is located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, about 20 miles (30 km) north of the modern city of Beirut, Lebanon. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited towns in the world. The name Byblos is Greek; papyrus received its early Greek name (byblos, byblinos) from its being exported to the Aegean through Byblos. Hence the English word Bible is derived from byblos as “the (papyrus) book.”6

This city, is said to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It has had many different names of which one (possibly Gebal) may have had its roots in paganism. But think about it. What does it have to do with the Greek word “byblos” which means papyrus? The name Gebal has nothing to do with the word “byblos.” Don’t you find this a bit strange? Does this sound like good scholarship?

Conclusion

We have a responsibility to verify everything we hear from others, before we share it with anybody. This is no easy task, because it is so easy to just sit and listen to someone teach, or read what someone has written without going to the trouble of verifying. We are instructed to prove all things, just like the Bereans searched out the Scriptures to verify everything Paul taught them.

1 Thessalonians 5:21
21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;

Please do this, as it might just remove some of the unnecessary contention. Let us be good Bereans and credible scholars. That is a way in which we can do our little bit in restoring the name of the Messy-anic movement.

Acts 17:11
11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

 References

  1. http://www.setapartpeople.com/faith_and_works_salvation
  2. Scott, J. B. (1999). 116 אָמַן. In R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (51). Chicago: Moody Press.
  3. Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (672). New York: United Bible Societies.
  4. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bible
  5. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=bible
  6. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/86962/Byblos
Spread the word:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Reddit Email Linkedin

Further reading

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Trackback from your site.

Comments (3)

  • Isaac

    |

    In conclusion, are you saying we can use the word AMEN everywhere except in Egypt where it will be referring to the name of a god.

    Reply

    • Schalk_and_Elsa

      |

      HI Isaac,

      It is not about location, but language. So if you were to pray in Egyption and you use the word Amen or Aman in prayer, it may give the impression that you are prayeing to their god.

      Shalom

      Reply

Leave a comment

Subscribe to get notified of new posts!

  • Around 1 e-mail per week
  • We do not share your information
  • Our Privacy policy can be found here - http://www.setapartpeople.com/privacy-policy