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Synonyms of the New Testament :: Richard C. Trench

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l. ἱμάτιον, χιτών, ἱματισμός, χλαμύς, στολή, ποδήρης.

The reader need not be alarmed here in prospect of a treatise de Re Vestiariâ; although such, with the abundant materials ready to hand in the works of Ferrarius, Braun, and others, might very easily be written, and need cost little more than the trouble of transcription. I do not propose more than a brief discrimination of a few of the words by which garments are most frequently designated in the N. T.

Ἱμάτιον, properly a diminutive of ἷμα (== εἷμα), although like so many words of our own, as ‘pocket,’ ‘latchet,’ it has quite lost the force of a diminutive, is the word of commonest use, when there is no intention to designate one manner of garment more particularly than another (Matt. 11:8; 26:65). But ἱμάτιον is used also in a more restricted sense, of the large upper garment, so large that a man would sometimes sleep in it (Exod. 22:26), the cloke as distinguished from the χιτών or close-fitting inner vest; and thus περιβάλλειν ἱμάτιον (it is itself called περιβόλαιον, Exod. 22:7; περιβολή, Plutarch, Conj. Proec. 12), but ἐνδύειν χιτῶνα (Dio Chrysostom, Orat. 7:111). Ἱμάτιον and χιτών, as the upper and the under garment, occur constantly together (Acts 9:39; Matt. 5:40; Luke 6:29; John 19:23). Thus at Matt. 5:40 our Lord instructs his disciples: “If any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat (χιτῶνα), let him have thy cloke (ἱμάτιον) also.” Here the spoiler is presumed to begin with the less costly, the under garment, which we have rendered, not very happily, the ‘coat’ (Dictionary of the Bible, art. Dress), from which he proceeds to the more costly, or upper; and the process of spoliation being a legal one, there is nothing unnatural in such a sequence: but at Luke 6:29 the order is reversed: “Him that taketh away thy cloke (ἱμάτιον) forbid not to take thy coat (χιτῶνα) also.” As the whole context plainly shows, the Lord is here contemplating an act of violent outrage; and therefore the cloke or upper garment, as that which would be the first seized, is also the first named. In the aesopic fable (Plutarch, Proec. Conj. 12), the wind with all its violence only makes the traveller to wrap his ἱμάτιον more closely round him, while, when the sun begins to shine in its strength, he puts off first his ἱμάτιον, and then his χιτών. One was styled γυμνός, who had laid aside his ἱμάτιον, and was only in his χιτών; not ‘naked,’ as our Translators have it (John 21:7), which suggests an unseemliness that certainly did not find place; but stripped for toil (cf. Isai. 20:2; 58:7; Job 22:6; Jam. 2:15; and in the Latin, ‘nudus ara.’ It is naturally his ἱμάτιον which Joseph leaves in the hands of his temptress (Gen. 39:12); while at Jude 23 χιτών has its fitness.

Ἱματισμός, a word of comparatively late appearance, and belonging to the κοινὴ διάλεκτος, is seldom, if ever, used except of garments more or less stately and costly. It is the ‘vesture’—this word expressing it very well (cf. Gen. 41:42; Ps. 102:26; Rev. 19:13, E. V.), of kings; thus of Solomon in all his glory (1 Kin. 10:5; cf. 22:30); is associated with gold and silver, as part of a precious spoil (Exod. 3:22; 12:35; cf. Acts 20:33); is found linked with such epithets as ἔνδοξος (Luke 7:25; cf. Isai. 3:18, δόξα τοῦ ἱματισμοῦ), ποικίλος (Ezek. 16:18), διάχρυσος (Ps. 44:10), πολυτελής (1 Tim. 2:9; cf. Plutarch, Apoph. Lac. Archid. 7); is a name given to our Lord’s χιτών (Matt. 27:35; John 19:24), which was woven all of a piece (ἄῤῥαφος), and had that of cost and beauty about it which made even the rude Roman soldiers unwilling to rend, and so to destroy it.

The purple robe with which our Lord was arrayed in scorn by the mockers in Pilate’s judgment-hall is a χλαμύς (Matt. 27:28-31). Nor can we doubt that the word has its strictest fitness here. Χλαμύς so constantly signifies a garment of dignity and office, that χλαμύδα περιτιθέναι was a proverbial phrase for assuming a magistracy (Plutarch, An. Sen. Ger. Resp. 26). This might be a civil magistracy; but χλαμύς, like ‘paludamentum’ (which, and not ‘sagum,’ is its nearest Latin equivalent), far more commonly expresses the robe with which military officers, captains, commanders or imperators, would be clothed (2 Macc. 12:35); and the employment of χλαμύς in the record of the Passion leaves little doubt that these profane mockers obtained, as it would have been so easy for them in the praetorium to obtain, the cast-off cloke of some high Roman officer, and with this arrayed the sacred person of the Lord. We recognise a certain confirmation of this supposition in the epithet κόκκινος which St. Matthew gives it. It was ‘scarlet,’ the colour worn by Roman officers of rank; so ‘chlamys coccinea’ (Lampridius, Alex. Severus, 40); χλαμύς περιπόρφυρος (Plutarch, Proec. Ger. Reip. 20). That the other Evangelists describe it as ‘purple’ (Mark 15:17; John 19:2) does not affect this statement; for the ‘purple’ of antiquity was a colour almost or altogether indefinite (Braun, De Vest. Sac. Heb. vol. i. p. 220; Gladstone, Studies on Homer, vol. iii. p. 457).

Στολή, from στέλλω, our English ‘stole,’ is any stately robe; and as long sweeping garments would have eminently this stateliness about them, always, or almost always, a garment reaching to the feet, or trainlike sweeping the ground. The fact that such were oftenest worn by women (the Trojan women are ἑλκεσίπεπλοι in Homer) explains the use which ‘stola’ in Latin has predominantly acquired. The Emperor Marcus Antoninus tells us in his Meditations, that among the things which he learned from his tutor, the famous Stoic philosopher Rusticus, was, not to stalk about the house in a στολή (μὴ ἐν στολῇ κατ᾽ οἶκον περιπατεῖν, i. 7). It was, on the contrary, the custom and pleasure of the Scribes to “walk in long clothing” (Mark 12:38; cf. Luke 20:46), making this solemn ostentation of themselves in the eyes of men. Στολή is in constant use for the holy garments of Aaron and his descendants (Exod. 28:2; 29:21; στολὴ δόξης they are called, Ecclus. 50:11); or, indeed, for any garment of special solemnity, richness, or beauty; thus στολὴ λειτουργική (Exod. 31:10); and compare Mark 16:5; Luke 15:22; Rev. 6:11; 7:9; Esth. 6:8, 11; Jon. 3:6.

Ποδήρης, naturalised in ecclesiastical Latin as ‘podĕris’ (of which the second syllable is short), is properly an adjective, == ‘talaris;’ thus ἀσπὶς ποδήρης, Xenophon, vi. 2, 10 (== θυρεός, Ephes. 6:16); ποδῆρες ἔνδυμα, Wisd. 18:24; ποδήρης πώγων, Plutarch, Quom. Am. ab Adul. 7; being severally a shield, a garment, a beard, reaching down to the feet. It differs very little from στολή. Indeed the same Hebrew word which is rendered ποδήρης at Ezek. 4:2, 3, is rendered στολή, ibid. x. 2, and στολὴ ἁγία, ibid. 6, 7. At the same time, in the enumeration of the high-priestly garments, this στολή, or στολὴ ἁγία, signifies the whole array of the high priest; while the ποδήρης (χιτὼν ποδήρης Plutarch calls it in his curious and strangely inaccurate chapter about the Jewish festivals, Symp. iv. 6. 6) is distinguished from it, and signifies one portion only, namely, the robe or chetoneth (Exod. 28:2, 4; Ecclus. xlv. 7, 8).

There are other words which might be included in this group, as ἐσθής (Luke 23:11), ἔσθησις (Luke 24:4), ἔνδυμα (Matt. 22:12); but it would not be very easy to assign severally to each of these a domain of meaning peculiarly its own. On the whole subject see Marriott, Vestiarum Christianum, pp. vii. seq.

[The following Strong's numbers apply to this section:G2440,G2441,G4158,G4749,G5509,G5511.]

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