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Author Topic: How Eternity Slipped In  (Read 1844 times)

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Samson

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How Eternity Slipped In
« on: December 23, 2009, 12:50:26 AM »

Hello Everyone,

I thought it would be beneficial and interesting to provide some excerpts from Whence Eternity, by the Scottish/Irish Inventor and Linguist(etymologist), Alexander Thomson, who wrote the article: Whence eternity! How eternity Slipped In. Ray quotes from him in his paper, Is Everlasting Scriptural and I'll provide a quote from Ray regarding this. No links are allowed per forum rules and none are given. If anyone wants to PM me regarding additional information about this 24 page article, feel free to do so. Two Latin words: Seculum(Greek Aion, English Age) and Aeternus(Greek Aionios, English, Eonian) came to be misunderstood and mistranslated World and Eternity. All comments and additional information on this topic are much appreciated. Below are some excerpts from Whence Eternity and below in blue is a copy and paste from Ray's paper, Is everlasting Scriptural.

The inspired Scriptures never speak of eternity. They describe nothing as eternal. They contain no term which in itself bears our time sense of everlasting. As eternity is not a subject of revelation, our present object is to discover how and when this unscriptural term gained entrance into theology, with most disastrous results. As this is really a historical investigation, it will be necessary to allude to a considerable number of historical events, and to quote from a number of by-gone translators and their versions. It is hoped that such a study, along with an examination of various primitive words dealing with time, will dispel any doubts in the minds of those who do not feel thoroughly assured regarding the use of the word eonian in place of eternal. It may be stated, without fear of contradiction, that the more one explores into the early centuries of Christendom, the clearer does it become that a corrupt theology was alone responsible for displacing the teaching regarding the eons by a dogma respecting "eternity."




It is to Tertullian, a Latin of Carthage, who lived from about 160 to 220 A.D., that we are indebted for our first knowledge of the existence of the Old Latin version of the Scriptures. He was the earliest of the Latin Fathers. The manuscripts of this version in existence show that the Latin employed was very different from classical Latin, being more vigorous, yet marked by solecisms (or improprieties in the language used-what would appear to others as errors in grammar and violations of syntax and idiom). It may have been originally a translation from the Greek made by comparatively illiterate people, or the language may be due simply to the differences in dialect between the Latin of Rome and the Latin of Carthage. So long as the Old Latin scriptures remained in North Africa, they continued with little or no change, but immediately they arrived on the soil of Italy, a great disturbance took place. Old words in use in Carthage were found to be unintelligible to the Romans, while new words coined there were not understood. Words in both countries had, in the course of two or three centuries, taken on distinctive and divergent nuances of their own. The provincial solecisms and roughnesses of the African version were patched up and corrected by means of the Greek version current in Italy, and in course of time the result came to be indescribable confusion. There were said to be as many versions as manuscripts, though this is no doubt somewhat of an exaggeration. Upon Jerome fell the arduous task of attempting to bring about harmony out of this confusion, and the outcome was his version of the Latin scriptures which in after times, from the thirteenth century onwards, was known as the "Vulgate." Hitherto, for about six hundred years, the Greek Septuagint version had held the field, and there was intense and prolonged opposition to Jerome's version. This was the Bible which was to dominate most of Christendom for a thousand years, right up to the Reformation. Jerome, however, in his revision, while correcting obvious errors and setting right what seemed to be bad Latin, was very conservative otherwise. Many expressions he left as he found them. Whatever may have been his own views regarding the future, he does not appear to have revised two Latin words, fraught with profound significance, which he found in the old version. These are both words used to render the Greek word eon, as Latin, like Gothic and Armenian and English, found two words necessary, seculum, from which we have our word "secular," and aeternus, from which have descended the fateful words "eternal" and "eternity." Sometimes, as we shall see, the Greek αιων (eon) was rendered by one of these two Latin words, and sometimes by the other. Not only so, but when the Greek shows the word eon twice or thrice in one clause (as in "for the eon, and for the eon of the eon"), the Latin frequently shows both aeternus and seculum. This alone ought to be sufficient to prove that the two Latin words could have the same meaning, more or less, and it will be our present purpose to demonstrate that originally the two words differed little in meaning, but that theology, chiefly through the dominating influence of one man, imparted to aeternus a nuance alien to its derivation and original usage.


Nevertheless, the false notion that Time must some day end and Eternity commence, still clings to theology. All that the Scriptures reveal is that the eons will terminate (1 Cor.10:11; Heb.9:26), but it seems clear that time of some kind or other must continue.


Eternal is one of the many hundreds of words which gained entrance into English during the Renaissance. Previous to that time, it was completely unknown. No such word appears in any old English scriptures. Instead of it, there is found a simple little word with the meaning of eonian, or something like that, spelt ece, of which more will be said later. In fact, it may be laid down as a rule that no language had, for some time after the first century A.D., any term to denote eternity.


This was the Bible which was to dominate most of Christendom for a thousand years, right up to the Reformation. Jerome, however, in his revision, while correcting obvious errors and setting right what seemed to be bad Latin, was very conservative otherwise. Many expressions he left as he found them. Whatever may have been his own views regarding the future, he does not appear to have revised two Latin words, fraught with profound significance, which he found in the old version. These are both words used to render the Greek word eon, as Latin, like Gothic and Armenian and English, found two words necessary, seculum, from which we have our word "secular," and aeternus, from which have descended the fateful words "eternal" and "eternity." Sometimes, as we shall see, the Greek αιων (eon) was rendered by one of these two Latin words, and sometimes by the other. Not only so, but when the Greek shows the word eon twice or thrice in one clause (as in "for the eon, and for the eon of the eon"), the Latin frequently shows both aeternus and seculum. This alone ought to be sufficient to prove that the two Latin words could have the same meaning, more or less, and it will be our present purpose to demonstrate that originally the two words differed little in meaning, but that theology, chiefly through the dominating influence of one man, imparted to aeternus a nuance alien to its derivation and original usage.


It is now necessary to examine the origin of the word "eternal." Whatever the Latin word meant in the time of Jerome, it certainly did not signify endless three hundred years earlier. Professor Max Muller said of the root of this word, that it originally signified life or time, but had given rise to a number of words expressing eternity, the very opposite of life and time. He says the Latin aevum (which corresponds almost letter for letter with the Greek αιων, eon, thought to have been originally aivon), became the name of time, age, and its derivative aeviternus, or aeternus, "was made to express eternity." These are the words of an authority who was quite unbiased in this matter.


It was reserved for three great Carthaginians, Tertullian, Cyprian, and Augustine, so to influence the Latin Church that it deflected and declined into a system of dogmatic hierarchy and spiritual despotism. But Tertullian was the individual who set this current in motion. Through his powerful instrumentality Christendom, at the critical juncture, took the wrong turn, and his influence still prevails. Neander says of him, that his mind was often at a loss for suitable forms of phraseology, as he had more within him than he could express, and for this purpose he was obliged to create a language for the new spiritual matter, out of the rude Punic Latin. It has been said that Tertullian often makes use of words not found in general use outside of the very early writers, and that he often imparts to words a new or unusual force.

This, then, is the man in the hollow of whose hands lay the clay which was to be moulded into concrete Latin dogma. This is the man in whose hands reclined the fate of the word eternal. What meaning did he give to it? Its old meaning, akin to the Greek eonian, or something beyond that? Being quite devoid of any understanding of the eons of Scripture, destitute of a real perception of the fact that God is love, unable to view God but as a stern Judge who must somehow or other be "Satisfied" or placated, how was it possible for him to look on the mass of mankind otherwise than as damned? Augustine, who later outdid Tertullian and his doctrines, maintained that the whole human race was "one damned batch and mass of perdition" (conspersis damnata, massa perditionis), out of which a few are elected to salvation, while all the remainder are lost for ever. He beheld evil as a force integral in a universe apart from God, while Origen believed that all is out from God, even evil, which God must undo and banish. One who has no place for eons to come must needs look on the future as a shoreless eternity. Having failed to grasp what God had revealed concerning the eons, Tertullian had no alternative but to impart to the Latin word eternal that sense which it now bears. Not only so, but this special meaning of the Latin word, taking advantage of the steady decline of Greek as the language of theology and the rise and ascendancy of Latin, reacted upon, and was imposed upon, its Greek equivalent eonian, which henceforth in theology was "made to express" the meaning of everlasting.

Below is the quotation by Ray.
               


Comment: The word "eternal" comes from the Latin "aeternum" which in the first century meant virtually the same as the word "seculum," and in fact, Jerome sometimes rendered "aion" aeternus, and in other places he renders "aion" as seculum. They were considered virtually synonyms. Here is the how Latin dictionaries define, seculum—"a generation, an age, the world, the times, the SPIRIT OF THE TIMES, and a period of a hundred years." (Caps mine).

Trajan, Roman emperor from 98 to 117 AD spoke of seculum as the time he lived in. Tertullian, born about 160 AD refers to "a mighty shock impending over the entire world, and the conclusion of the seculum itself." Lactantius, born about 260 AD speaks of the "learned ones of this seculum." Eusebius, early Church historian, born about 265 AD gives the account of a martyrs’ trail in which Speratus, the martyrs’ leader, replied, "The empire of this seculum [world] I do not recognize."

We read this from the work, Whence Eternity by Scholar and Expert in the Greek language, Alexander Thomson, "Long ago in Rome, periodic games were held, which were called ‘secular’ games. Herodian, the historian, writing in Greek about the end of the second or beginning of the third century, call these ‘eonian’ games. In no sense were the games eternal. Eonian did not mean eternal any more than a seculum meant eternity" (Page 12).




           Kind Regards, Samson.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2009, 12:58:03 AM by Samson »
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Deborah-Leigh

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Re: How Eternity Slipped In
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2009, 10:28:33 AM »

Hello Samson

I appreciate the research that backs up what Ray gives us in bite size portions of palatable Truth.

Recently I have been enjoying watching the History Channel that documents historical sites and in particular give reference to archaeological and scientific findings. It is another avenue to view how civilization was in the times of Jesus. I find it interesting how Historical figures God has written into human history pursued  deeds of self aggrandizement that have not matched the proclamations of God's Kingdom . This afternoon I watched how King Herod produced major buildings and extraordinary architectural splendors in his time. Yet it is Christ’s Kingdom that has stood not the bricks and mortar of the perished King Herod.  
 
Thanks for the post.

Arc

PS I noticed this quote on Sky news. It bears reference. :D

The truth is incontrovertible. Ignorance may deride it but in the end there it is. Sir Winston Churchill.

 
« Last Edit: December 25, 2009, 10:40:00 AM by Arcturus »
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