From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Sep 13 1998 - 09:13:13 EDT

At 10:12 AM -0500 9/12/98, Edgar Foster wrote:
>---"Carl W. Conrad" <> wrote:
>>(2) One problem with "happy" for MAKARIOS is that it ultimately
>reverts etymologically to a notion of chance. Aristotle spends
>considerable effort in Book 1 of the Ethics in drawing a distinction
>EUDAIMWN--"blessed" in the sense of being fulfilled with the goodness
>that deity can bestow--and EUTUCHS--"fortunate" in the sense of
>enjoying various sorts of fulfilment for no particular reason other
>than that one is "lucky<
>I have a few questions, Carl. How would you distinguish EUDAIMWN from
>MAKARIOS, or would you make a sharp distinction between the two signs?
>Does not Aristotle differentiate EUDAIMWN from MAKARIOS in Nicomachean
>Ethics 1101a1-20? If the objection to rendering MAKARIOS as "happy" is
>for etymological reasons, is this a valid objection? Based on Ps. 1:1
>(LXX), could not MAKARIOS ANHR be understood as one who is happy,
>because he or she is blessed by the Deity?
>Efdgar Foster

Well now, Efdgar ;-) --hey, people, that's an emoticon, in case you didn't
notice it!

I've finally had a bit of time to do some research on this word and its
relationships in GNT and LXX and in LSJ and Aristotle. Let me offer some
general impressions rather than a scientific accounting for every usage in
the Greek Bible and in secular Greek literature.

(1) Secular Greek usage tends to distinguish MAKAR/MAKAIRA from MAKARIOS/A/ON:

MAKAR/MAKAIRA (presumably related to the same root as MAKROS/A/ON) tends to
be used of the gods primarily to distinguish them as enjoying a blissful
existence as opposed to the baneful existence of mortal humanity; that is
to say, it is distinctly bound up with the older Olympian religion's sense
of the gulf between immortals and mortals and association of mortal
existence essentially with suffering that is alien, for the most part, to
the gods. The common phrasing hOI MAKARES for "the blessed dead" only
confirms this sense and also suggests that the original adjective MAKAR
indicated a sort of negation of the fundamental toil and suffering of
mortal human existence: something that the gods and the "blessed dead" are
free from.

MAKARIOS/A/ON, as might be presumed from the usage of the adjectival ending
in IOS/A/ON, seems to be derivative from MAKAR/MAKAIRA and to be used
particularly of those human beings whose bliss or good fortune sets them in
a dualistic antithesis to the AQLIOI, rather comparable to the distinction
that MAKAR/MAKAIRA makes between gods and mortals in general.

(2) My scan of instances of this word in LXX and GNT shows MAKARIOS used
almost solely of human beings, very rarely indeed of God--and that seems to
reflect secular Greek literary use of the word pretty well too. And it
would appear that in Biblical Greek usage too, MAKARIOS/A/ON is used to
distinguish the blessed quality of existence of the few who are
congratulated by application of this epithet to them from the banal or even
accursed everyday existence of those who are not allotted the epithet.

(3) Aristotle Nic Eth 1101a7/1101a19 distinguishes MAKARIOS from EUDAIMWN.
The fact is that EUDAIMWN in the older sense of the Greek word conveys the
notion of "divinely blest" or even "sharing in the quality of existence of
the gods." In the 5th century and later, however, it tended to mean
"prosperous," and even "rich"--and one sees MAKARIOS used that way too. In
the passage in Nic Ethics indicated above (it's in Book 1 of the Ethics,
where Aristotle is setting forth his conception of EUDAIMONIA as the TELOS
of human existence), Aristotle endeavors to reclaim the older sense of
EUDAIMWN from the meaner materialistic sense that it has come to have in
the 5th and 4th centuries: so the EUDAIMWN is one who lives in accordance
with the fullest ARETH, both moral and intellectual, and is sufficiently
endowed with social status and external goods to be able to exhibit that
ARETH in a life that is full and long and unmarked by any savage reversal
of fortune that might undermine his ARETH ("... for one swallow does not
make a summer.") So, after making clear what he means by EUDAIMWN he
attempts to distinguish it from EUTUCHS--one who may be "fortunate" without
being virtuous, and from even MAKARIOS--one who may be so well off as to be
deemed by the multitude as enjoying godlike bliss.

Now, how does this all apply to the original question? It seems to me that
what this implies is that use of MAKARIOS with reference to God is
exceedingly rare and something of an aberration from normal usage in
Biblical Greek. It properly refers to those described in Jesus'
"Beatitudes" and to the man who keeps the Torah in Psalm 1--and to a few
others. On the other hand, EULOGEW seems to have more to do with the human
act of praising God for goodness and greatness; the secular Greek
equivalent might be in reference to the MAKARIOTHS of the gods, but the
secular Greek usage would think more of the blissful existence of the gods
rather than of God's righteousness, compassion, goodness, and greatness.

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