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Synonyms of the New Testament :: Richard C. Trench

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xxxvii. θυμός, ὀργή, παροργισμός.

Θυμός and ὀργή are found several times together in the N. T. (as at Rom. 2:8; Ephes. 4:31; Col. 3:8; Rev. 19:15); often also in the Septuagint (Ps. 77:49; Dan. 3:13; Mic. 5:15), and often also in other Greek (Plato, Philebus, 47 e; Polybius, vi. 56. 11; Josephus, Antt. xx. 5. 3; Plutarch, De Coh. Irâ, 2; Lucian, De Cal. 23); nor are they found only in the connexion of juxtaposition, but one made dependent on the other; thus θυμὸς τῆς ὀργῆς (Rev. 16:19; cf. Job 3:17; Josh. 7:26); while ὀργὴ θυμοῦ, not occurring in the N. T., is frequent in the Old (2 Chron. 29:10; Lam. 1:12; Isai. 30:27; Hos. 11:9). On one occasion in the Septuagint all the words of this group occur together (Jer. 21:5).

When these words, after a considerable anterior history, came to settle down on the passion of anger, as the strongest of all passions, impulses, and desires (see Donaldson, New Cratylus, 3rd ed. pp. 675–679; and Thompson, Phoedrus of Plato, p. 165), the distinguishing of them occupied not a little the grammarians and philologers. These felt, and rightly, that the existence of a multitude of passages in which the two were indifferently used (as Plato, Legg. ix. 867), made nothing against the fact of such a distinction; for, in seeking to discriminate between them, they assumed nothing more than that these could not be indifferently used on every occasion. The general result at which they arrived is this, that in θυμός connected with the intransitive θύω, and derived, according to Plato (Crat. 419 e), ἀπὸ τῆς θύσεως καὶ ζέσεως τῆς ψυχῆς, ‘quasi exhalatio vehementior’ (Tittmann), compare the Latin ‘fumus,’ is more of the turbulent commotion, the boiling agitation of the feelings,1 μέθη τῆς ψμχῆς, St. Basil calls it, either presently to subside and disappear,—like the Latin ‘excandescentia,’ which Cicero defines (Tusc. iv. 9), ‘ira nascens et modo desistens’—or else to settle down into ὀργή, wherein is more of an abiding and settled habit of mind (‘ira inveterata’) with the purpose of revenge; ‘cupiditas doloris reponendi’ (Seneca, De Irâ, i. 5); ὁρμὴ ψυχῆς ἐν μελέτῃ κακώσεως κατὰ τοῦ παροξύναντος (Basil, Reg. Brev. Tract. 68);2 the German ‘Zorn,’ ‘der activ sich gegen Jemand oder etwas richtende Unwille, die Opposition des unwillig erregten Gemtühes’ (Cremer). Thus Plato (Euthyph. 7) joins ἐχθρά, and Plutarch δυσμένεια (Pericles, 39), with ὀργή. Compare Theol. Stud. u. Krit. 1851, p. 99, sqq.

This, the more passionate, and at the same time more temporary, character of θυμός (θυμοί, according to Jeremy Taylor, are ‘great but transient angers;’3 cf. Luke 4:28; Dan. 3:19) may explain a distinction of Xenophon, namely that θυμός in a horse is what ὀργή is in a man (De Re Eques. ix. 2; cf. Wisd. 7:20, θυμοὶ θηρίων: Plutarch, Gryll. 4, in fine; and Pyrrh. 16, πνεύματος μεστὸς καὶ θυμοῦ, full of animosity and rage). Thus the Stoics, who dealt much in definitions and distinctions, defined θυμός as ὀργὴ ἀρχομένη (Diogenes Laërtius, vii. 1. 63. 114); and Ammonius: θυμὸς μέν ἐστι πρόσκαιρος· ὀργὴ δὲ πολυχρόνιος μνησικακία. Aristotle, too, in his wonderful comparison of old age and youth, thus characterizes the angers of old men (Rhet . ii. 11): καὶ οἱ θυμοὶ, ὀξεῖς μέν εἰσιν, ἀσθενεῖς δέ—like fire in straw, quickly blazing up, and as quickly extinguished (cf. Euripides, Androm. 728, 729). Origen (in Ps. ii. 5, Opp. vol. ii. p. 541) has a discussion on the words, and arrives at the same results: διαφέρει δὲ θυμὸς ὀργῆς, τῷ θυμὸν μὲν εἶναι ὀργὴν ἀναθυμιωμένην καὶ ἔτι ἐκκαιομένην· ὀργὴν δὲ ὄρεξιν ἀντιτιμωρήσεως: cf. in Ep. ad Rom. ii. 8, which only exists in the Latin: ‘ut si, verbi gratiâ, vulnus aliquod pessimum iram ponamus, hujus autem tumor et distentio indignatio vulneris appelletur:’ so too Jerome (in Ephes. iv. 31): ‘Furor [θυμός] incipiens ira est, et fervescens in animo indignatio. Ira [ὀργή] autem est, quae furore extincto desiderat ultionem, et eum quem nocuisse putat vult laedere.’ This agrees with the Stoic definition of ὀργή, that it is τιμωρίας ἐπιθυμία τοῦ δοκοῦντος ἠδικηκέναι οὐ προσηκόντως (Diogenes Laërtius, vii. 113). So Gregory Nazianzene (Carm. ii. 34. 43, 44):

θυμὸς μέν ἐστιν ἀθρόος ζέσις φρένος,
ὀργὴ δὲ θυμὸς ἐμμένων
.

And so too Theodoret, in Ps. 68:25 (69:24, E. V.), where the words occur together. διὰ τοῦ θυμοῦ τὸ ταχὺ δεδήλωκε, διὰ δὲ τῆς ὀργῆς τὸ ἐπίμονον. Josephus in like manner (B. J. ii. 8. 6) describes the Essenes as ὀργῆς ταμίαι δίκαιοι, θυμοῦ καθεκτικοί. Dion Cassius in like manner notes as one of the characteristic traits of Tiberius, ὠργίζετο ἐν οἷς ἥκιστα ἐθυμοῦτο (Vita Tib.).

Μῆνις (Isai. 16:6; Ecclus. 28:4; ‘ira perdurans,’ Damm’s Lex. Hom.) and κότος, being successively ‘ira inveterata’ and ‘ira inveteratissima’ (John of Damascus, De Fid. Orthod. 11. 16), nowhere occur in the N. T.

Παροργισμός, a word not found in classical Greek, but several times in the Septuagint (as at 1 Kin. 15:30; 2 Kin. 19:3), is not == ὀργή, though we have translated it ‘wrath.’ This it cannot be; for the παροργισμός (Ephes. 4:26, where only in the N. T. the word occurs; but παροργίζειν, Rom. 10:19; Ephes. 6:4), is absolutely forbidden; the sun shall not go down upon it; whereas under certain conditions ὀργή is a righteous passion to entertain. The Scripture has nothing in common with the Stoics’ absolute condemnation of anger. It inculcates no ἀπάθεια, but only a μετριοπάθεια, a moderation, not an absolute suppression, of the passions, which were given to man as winds to fill the sails of his soul, as Plutarch excellently puts it (De Virt. Mor. 12). It takes no such loveless view of other men’s sins as his who said, σεαυτὸν μὴ τάρασσε· ἁμαρτάνει τισ, ἑαυτῷ ἁμαρτάνει (Marcus Antoninus, iv. 46). But even as Aristotle, in agreement with all deeper ethical writers of antiquity (thus see Plato, Legg. v. 731 b: θυμοειδὴ μὲν χρὴ πάντα ἄνδρα εἶναι, κ. τ. λ.; Thompson’s Phoedrus of Plato, p. 166; and Cicero, Tusc. Quoest. iv. 19), had affirmed that, when guided by reason, anger is a right affection, so the Scripture permits, and not only permits, but on fit occasions demands, it. This all the profounder teachers of the Church have allowed; thus Gregory of Nyssa: ἀγαθὸν κτῆνός ἐστιν ὁ θυμὸς, ὅταν τοῦ λογισμοῦ ὑποζύγιον γένηται: and Augustine (De Civ. Dei, ix. 5): ‘In disciplinâ nostrâ non tam quaeritur utrum pius animus irascatur, sed quare irascatur.’ There is a “wrath of God” (Matt. 3:7; Rom. 12:19, and often), who would not love good, unless He hated evil, the two being so inseparable, that either He must do both or neither;4 a wrath also of the merciful Son of Man (Mark 3:5); and a wrath which righteous men not merely may, but, as they are righteous, must feel; nor can there be a surer and sadder token of an utterly prostrate moral condition than the not being able to be angry with sin—and sinners. ‘Anger,’ says Fuller (Holy State, iii. 8), ‘is one of the sinews of the soul; he that wants it hath a maimed mind, and with Jacob sinew- shrunk in the hollow of his thigh, must needs halt. Nor is it good to converse with such as cannot be angry.’ ‘The affections,’ as another English divine has said, ‘are not, like poisonous plants, to be eradicated; but as wild, to be cultivated.’ St. Paul is not therefore, as so many understand him, condescending here to human infirmity, and saying, ‘Your anger shall not be imputed to you as a sin, if you put it away before nightfall’ (see Suicer, Thes. s. v. ὀργή); but rather, ‘Be ye angry, yet in this anger of yours suffer no sinful element to mingle; there is that which may cleave even to a righteous anger, the παροργισμός, the irritation, the exasperation, the embitterment (‘exacerbatio’), which must be dismissed at once; that so, being defecated of this impurer element which mingled with it, that only may remain which has a right to remain.’


1 It is commonly translated ‘furor’ in the Vulgate. Augustine (Enarr. in Ps. lxxxvii. 8) is dissatisfied with the application of this word to God, ‘furor’ being commonly attributed to those out of a sound mind, and proposes ‘indignatio’ in its room. For another distinction, ascribing ‘ira’ and ‘furor’ alike to God, see Bernard, Serm. in Cant. 69, § 3; a noticeable passage.

2 In ἀγανάκτησις St. Basil finds the furthur thought that this eagerness to punish has the amendment of the offender for its scope. Certainly the one passage in the N. T. where ἀγανάκτησις occurs (2 Cor. 7:11) does not refuse this meaning.

3 Hampole in his great poem, The Pricke of Conscience, does not agree. In his vigorous, but most unlovely picture of an old man, this is one trait:—

‘He es lyghtly wrath, and waxes fraward,
Bot to turne hym fra wrethe, it es hard.’

4 See on this anger of God, as the necessary complement of his love, the excellent words of Lactantius (De Irâ Dei, c. 4): ‘Nam si Deus non irascitur impiis et injustis, nec pios utique justosque diligit. In rebus enim diversis aut in utramque partem moveri necesse est, aut in nullam.’

[The following Strong's numbers apply to this section:G2372,G3709,G3950.]

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