Re: Acts 17:25 therapeuetai

From: clayton stirling bartholomew (
Date: Thu Mar 12 1998 - 09:18:30 EST

> On Thu, 12 Mar 1998, Randall M. Tidmore wrote:
> The KJV translates "worship" only here.
> > Newer translations translate "served."
> >
> > Isn't there a more to this than that? It seems to me that Paul, having
> > become very disgusted with the idolatry in Athens, makes a tremendous point.
> > The true God, is not healed (perhaps "repaired") by the hands of men. Paul
> > had seen their idols, as well as their temples. I wonder if he had not seen
> > someone having to repair or do some kind of maintenance on an idol. Whatever
> > the case may have been, I think the pointed contrast between God and idols
> > is missed by "worship" or "served."

Welcome to b-greek. A good place to bounce ideas.

Carl wrote:
It seems to me that you are taking what is really a SECONDARY sense of the
verb QERAPEUW and mis-applying it in this text

I would have to agree with Carl here about 99%. However, I did notice that the
article on QERAPEUW in EDNT (vol. 2, p144) devotes about 90% of it's space to
"healing" with only a very small note on "serving." The only NT reference they
give for "serving" is Acts 17:25. On the other hand, BAGD (358.1) gives "serve
a divinity" as a primary sense for this word, with a long list of
pre-christian authors (Hesoid, Herodoitus, . . .). H.A.W Meyer (4.333)
renders this "served by offerings."

So I would like to raise the question, if "service to a god" was the primary
meaning in the pre-christian era, is it still the primary meaning in the NT?
Has the locus of usage shifted in the NT for this word?

My conclusion concerning Acts 17:25 would be that "service to a deity" is the
most reasonably rendering in this context, even if that meaning is not the
most statistically common in the NT. When evaluating the semantic value of a
word in the NT one must not pay too much attention to the statistical use in
the NT, because the NT cannon is a small collection of writings. The lexical
semantic database for NT needs to include all the extant Koine sources as well
as the classical authors. Clearly the Koine sources should get more "weight"
than the older works, but the older works still need to be weighed.

Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

" . . . your strength is nothing but an accident arising from the weakness of others."

"Heart of Darkness", Joseph Conrad

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