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Synonyms of the New Testament :: Richard C. Trench

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lxxx. δοκέω, φαίνομαι.

Our Translators have not always observed the distinction which exists between δοκεῖν (==‘videri’) and φαίνεσθαι (==‘apparere’). Δοκεῖν expresses the subjective mental estimate or opinion about a matter which men form, their δόξα concerning it, which may be right (Acts 15:28; 1 Cor. 4:9; 7:40: cf. Plato, Tim. 51 d, δόξα ἀληθής), but which also may be wrong; involving as it always must the possibility of error (2 Macc. 9:10; Matt. 6:7; Mark 6:49; John 16:2; Acts 27:13; cf. Plato, Rep. 423 a; Gorg. 458 a, α, δόξα ψευδής; Xenophon, Cyrop. i. 6. 22; Mem. i. 7. 4, ἰσχυρόν, μὴ ὄντα δοκεῖν, to have a false reputation for strength); φαίνεσθαι on the contrary expresses how a matter phenomenally shows and presents itself, with no necessary assumption of any beholder at all; suggesting an opposition, not to the ὄν, but to the νοούμενου. Thus, when Plato (Rep. 408 a) says of certain heroes in the Trojan war, ἀγαθοὶ πρὸς τὸν πόλεμον ἐφάνησαν, he does not mean they seemed good for the war and were not, but they showed good, with the tacit assumption that what they showed, they also were. So too, when Xenophon writes ἐφαίνετο ἴχνια ἵππων (Anab. i. 6. 1), he would imply that horses had been actually there, and left their foot-prints on the ground. Had he used δοκεῖν, he would have implied that Cyrus and his company took for the tracks of horses what indeed might have been such, but what also might not have been such at all; cf. Mem. iii. 10. 2. Zeune: ‘δοκεῖν cernitur in opinione, quae falsa esse potest et vana; sed φαίνεσθαι plerumque est in re extra mentem, quamvis nemo opinatur.’ Thus δοκεῖ φαίνεσθαι (Plato, Phoedr. 269 d; Legg. xii. 960 d).

Even in passages where δοκεῖν may be exchanged with εἶναι, it does not lose the proper meaning which Zeune has ascribed to it here. There is ever a predominant reference to the public opinion and estimate, rather than to the actual being; however the former may be the faithful echo of the latter (Prov. 27:14). Thus, while there is no touch of irony, no shadow of depreciation, in St. Paul’s use of οἱ δοκοῦντες at Gal. 2:2, of οἱ δοκοῦντες εἶναί τι presently after (ver. 6)—exactly which same phrase occurs in Plato, Euthyd. 303 d, where they are joined with σεμνοί—and while manifestly there could be no slight intended, seeing that he so characterizes the chief of his fellow Apostles, the words for all this express rather the reputation in which these were held in the Church than the worth which in themselves they had, however that reputation of theirs was itself the true measure of this worth (==ἐπίσημοι, Rom. 16:7). Compare Euripides, Troad. 608, where τὰ δοκοῦντα are set over against τὰ μηδὲν ὄντα, Hec. 295, and Porphyry, De Abst. ii. 40, where οἱ δοκοῦντες in like manner is put absolutely, and set over against τὰ πλήθη. In the same way the words of Christ, οἱ δοκοῦντες ἄρχειν τῶν ἐθνῶν (Mark 10:42) == ‘they who are acknowledged rulers of the Gentiles,’ cast no doubt on the reality of the rule of these, for see Matt. 20:25; though indeed there may be a slight hint, looking through the words, of the contrast between the worldly shows and the heavenly realities of greatness; but as little are they redundant (cf. Josephus, Antt. xix. 6. 3; Susan. 5: and Winer, Gramm. § lxvii. 4).

But as on one side the mental conception may have, but also may not have, a corresponding truth in the world of realities, so on the other the appearance may have a reality beneath it, and φαίνεσθαι is often synonymous with εἶναι and γίγνεσθαι (Matt. 2:7; 13:26); but it may also have none; φαινόμενα for instance are set off against τὰ ὄντα τῇ ἀληθείᾳ by Plato (Rep. 596 e); being the reflections of things, as seen in a mirror: or shows, it may be, which have no substance behind them, as the shows of goodness which the hypocrite makes (Matt. 23:28). It must not be assumed that in this latter case φαίνεσθαι runs into the meaning of δοκεῖν, and that the distinction is broken down between them. That distinction still subsists in the objective character of the one, and the subjective character of the other. Thus, at Matt. 23:27, 28, the contrast is not between what other men took the Pharisees to be, and what they really were, but between what they showed themselves to other men (φαίνεσθε τοῖς ἀνθρώποις δίκαιοι), and what in very truth they were.

Δοκεῖν signifying ever, as we have seen, that subjective estimate which may be formed of a thing, not the objective show and seeming which it actually possesses, it will follow that our rendering of Jam. 1:26 is not perfectly satisfactory: “If any man among you seem to be religious (δοκεῖ θρῆσκος εἶναι), and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.” This verse, as it here stands, must before now have perplexed many. How, they will have asked, can a man “seem to be religious,” that is, present himself to others as such, when his religious pretensions are belied and refuted by the license of an unbridled tongue? But render the words, “If any man among you thinketh himself religious” (cf. Gal. 6:3, where δοκεῖ is rightly so translated; as it is in the Vulgate here, “se putat religiosum esse”), “and bridleth not his tongue, &c.,” and all will then be plain. It is the man’s own mental estimate of his spiritual condition which δοκεῖ expresses, an estimate which the following words declare to be altogether erroneous. Compare Heb. 4:1, where for δοκῇ the Vulgate has rightly ‘existimetur.’ If the Vulgate in dealing with δοκεῖν here is right, while our Translators are wrong, elsewhere in dealing with φαίνεσθαι it is wrong, while these are right. At Matt. 6:18 (“that thou appear not unto men to fast”), it has ‘ne videaris,’ although at ver. 16 it had rightly ‘ut appareant’; but the disciples in this verse are warned, not against the hypocrisy of wishing to be supposed to fast when they did not, as this ‘ne videaris’ might imply, but against the ostentation of wishing to be known to fast when they did; as lies plainly in the ὅπως μὴ φανῇς of the original.

The force of φαίνεσθαι, attained here, is missed in another passage of our Version; although not through any confusion between it and δοκεῖν, but rather between it and φαίνειν. We render ἐν οἷς φαίνεσθε ὡς φωστῆρες ἐν κόσμῳ (Phil. 2:15), “among whom ye shine as lights in the world;” where, instead of ‘ye shine,’ it should stand, ‘ye are seen,’ or ‘ye appear.’ To justify “ye shine” in this place, which is common to all the Versions of the English Hexapla, St. Paul should have written φαίνετε (cf. John 1:5; 2 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 1:16), and not, as he has written, φαίνεσθε. It is worthy of note that, while the Vulgate, having ‘lucetis,’ shares and anticipates our error, an earlier Latin Version was free from it; as is evident from the form in which the verse is quoted by Augustine (Enarr. in Ps. cxlvi. 4): ‘In quibus apparetis tanquam luminaria in caelo.’

[The following Strong's numbers apply to this section:G1380,G5316.]

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