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Synonyms of the New Testament :: Richard C. Trench

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lxxiii. πνοή, πνεῦμα, ἄνεμος, λαῖλαψ, θύελλα.

From the words into comparison with which πνεῦμα is here brought, it will be evident that it is proposed to deal with it in its natural and earthly, not in its supernatural and heavenly, meaning. Only I will observe, that on the relations between πνοή and πνεῦμα in this its higher sense there is a discussion in Augustine, De Civ. Dei, xiii. 22; cf. De Anim. et huj. Orig. i. 14, 19. The first three words of this group, as they designate not things heavenly but things earthly, differ from one another exactly as, according to Seneca, do in the Latin ‘aër,’ ‘spiritus,’ ‘ventus’ (Nat. Qu. v. 13): ‘Spiritum a vento motus1 separat; vehementior enim spiritus ventus est; invicem spiritus leviter fluens aër.’

Πνοή and πνεῦμα occur not seldom together, as at Isai. 42:5; 57:16; πνοή conveying the impression of a lighter, gentler, motion of the air than πνεῦμα, as ‘aura’ than ‘ventus.’ Compare Aristotle (De Mundo, iv. 10): τὰ ἐν ἀέρι πνέοντα πνεύματα καλοῦμεν ἀνέμους, αὔρας δὲ τὰς ἐξ ὑγροῦ φερομένας ἐκπνοάς. Pliny (Ep. 5:6) recognizes a similar distinction: ‘Semper aër spiritu aliquo movetur; frequentius tamen auras quam ventos habet’; Philo no less (Leg. Alleg. i. 14): πνοὴν δέ, ἀλλ᾽ οὐ πνεῦμα εἴρηκεν, ὡς διαφορᾶς οὔσης· τὸ μὲν γὰρ πνεῦμα νενόηται κατὰ τὴν ἰσχὺν καὶ εὐτονίαν καὶ δύναμιν· ἡ δὲ πνοὴ ὡς ἂν αὐρά τις ἐστι καὶ ἀναθυμίασις ἠρεμαία καὶ πραεῖα. Against this may be urged, that in one of the two places where πνοή occurs in the N. T., namely Acts 2:2, the epithet βιαία is attached to it, and it plainly is used of a strong and vehement wind (cf. Job 37:9). But, as De Wette has observed, this may be sufficiently accounted for by the fact that on that occasion it was necessary to reserve πνεῦμα for the higher spiritual gift, whereof this πνοή was the sign and symbol; and it would have introduced a perplexing repetition to have already employed πνεῦμα here.

Πνεῦμα is seldom used in the N. T.—indeed only at John 3:8; Heb. 1:7 (in this last place not certainly)—for wind; but in the Septuagint often, as at Gen. 8:1; Ezek. 37:9; Eccles. 11:5. The rendering of רוּחַ in this last passage by ‘spirit,’ and not, as so often, by ‘wind’ (Job 1:19; Ps. 148:8), in our English Version, is to be regretted, obscuring as it does the remarkable connexion between this saying of the Preacher and our Lord’s words to Nicodemus (John 3:8). He, who ever loves to move in the sphere and region of the O. T., in those words of his, “The wind bloweth where it listeth,” takes up words of Ecclesiastes, “Thou knowest not what is the way of the wind; ” the Preacher having thus already indicated of what higher mysteries these courses of the winds, not to be traced by man, were the symbol. Πνεῦμα is found often in the Septuagint in connexion with πνοή, but generally in a figurative sense (Job 33:4; Isai. 42:5; 57:16; and at 2 Sam. 22:16: πνοή πνεύματος).

Of ἄνεμος Aristotle (De Mund. 4) gives this account: οὐδὲν γάρ ἐστιν ἄνεμος πλήν ἀὴρ πολὺς ῥέων καὶ ἄθροος, ὅστις ἅμα καὶ πνεῦμα λέγεται: we may compare Hippocrates: ἄνεμος γάρ ἐστι ἠέρος ῥεῦμα καὶ χεῦμα. Like ‘ventus’ and ‘wind,’ ἄνεμος is usually the strong, oftentimes the tempestuous, wind (1 Kin. 19:11; Job 1:19; Matt. 7:25; John 6:18; Acts 27:14; Jam. 3:4; Plutarch, Proec. Conj. 12). It is interesting and instructive to observe that our Lord, or rather the inspired reporter of his conversation with Nicodemus, which itself no doubt took place in Aramaic, uses not ἄνεμος, but πνεῦμα, as has been noted already, when he would seek analogies in the natural world for the mysterious movements, not to be traced by human eye, of the Holy Spirit; and this, doubtless, because there is nothing fierce or violent, but all measured in his operation; while on the other hand, when St. Paul would describe men violently blown about and tempested on a sea of error, he speaks of them as κλυδωνιζόμενοι καὶ περιφερόμενοι παντὶ ἀνέμῳ τῆς διδασκαλίας (Ephes. 4:14; cf. Jude 12 with 2 Pet. 2:17).

Λαῖλαψ is a word of uncertain derivation. It is probably formed by reduplication, and is meant to be imitative in sound of that which it designates. We meet it three times in the N. T. (Mark 4:37; Luke 8:23; 2 Pet. 2:17); oftener, but not often, in the Septuagint. It is our ‘squall’; but with something more formidable about it than we commonly ascribe to the squall. Thus J. H. H. Schmidt, who, in his Synonymik, vol. ii. p. 218 sqq., has a very careful and full discussion on the whole group of words having to do with wind and weather, and the phenomena which these present, words in which the Greek language, as might be expected, is singularly rich, writes on λαῖλαψ thus: ‘Die Alten verstanden darunter ganz allgemein den unstäten, aus finsteren Gewölk hervorbrechenden mit Regengüssen verbundenen hin und her tobenden Sturm.’ And examples which he gives quite bear out this statement; it is, as Hesychius explains it, ἀνέμου συστροφὴ μεθ᾽ ὑετοὺ: or as Suidas, who brings in the further notion of darkness, μετ᾽ ἀνέμων ὄμβρος καὶ σκότος: the constant association in Homer of the epithets κελαινή and ἐρεμνή with λαῖλαψ certainly implying that this feature of it, namely the darkness which goes along with it, should not be passed over (Il. xi. 747; xvi. 384; xx. 51).

Φύελλα, joined with γνόφος whenever it occurs in the Septuagint, namely at Deut. 4:11; 5:22; Exod. 10:22, is found in the N. T. only at Heb. 12:18, and sounds there rather as a reminiscence from the Septuagint, than a word which the writer would have otherwise employed. Schmidt is at much pains to distinguish it from the Homeric ἄελλα, but with the difference between these we have nothing to do. It is sufficient to say that in the θύελλα, which is often a natural phenomenon wilder and fiercer, as it would seem, than the λαῖλαψ itself, there is not seldom the mingling in conflict of many opposing winds (Homer, Od. v. 319; xii. 290), something of the turbulent cyclone.

1 So quoted by Döderlein; but the edition of Seneca before me reads ‘modus.’

[The following Strong's numbers apply to this section:G2366,G2978,G4151,G4157,G417.]

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