Re: "Enemy" as gloss for EXQROS (and Sin, Nun, Aleph)

From: Joe A. Friberg (
Date: Mon Jan 03 2000 - 15:51:34 EST


You raise a very interesting point regarding the reciprocity frequently
found in 'enemy' in English. Clayton Stirling Bartholomew also raised a
good point with his example of:

<<I have a lingering question about the element of *reciprocal* hostility
in "enemy," for example "enemy of the people" where is the reciprocal
hostility here?>>

It appears, then, that 'enemy' is not always reciprocal, although I would
agree, it usually carries that potential. Regarding the reciprocal
potential of 'enemy' in English, I recently read a paragraph in which the
author was grasping for a less reciprocal term. The situation regarded a
disagreement between two groups in a church, and the discussion on
terminology ran as follows:

<<I need some term to be more descriptive than the elusive and enigmatic
'they' I used in the last paragraph: what shall I say? Words like 'enemies'
or 'adversaries' are simply too strong, and I should make
it clear at the outset that we have not attacked or excluded anyone....
What shall I call this or these group/s, whether loosely or formally knit
together? Trying to be as innocuous as possible, I guess I might use
'opponents' as a phrase from Pauline studies, although we are not opposed to
them, but only they to us. We would embrace them and
fellowship with them in a moment.>>

English does provide a specific class of words which are non-reciprocal:
these are marked by the often paired suffixes -or (-er??) and -ee, such as
?'rejector'/'rejectee', 'attacker'/?'attackee', 'hater'/?'hatee' (this last
'hater' term is often hyphenated). There may be other similar terms that
could be used, or a circumlocution could very well be better. Finally,
'enemy' may be viable depending on context: the question is, does it in a
particular context imply a reciprocity which was not present in or goes
against the meaning of the original text?

The question of reciprocity of terms is a very interesting one. I have not
studied the use of EXQROS thouroughly, and so I am taking your conclusions
as reasonable and as a good working hypothesis. In a similar vein, I have
often been struck by words that are reciprocal in Greek (even where the
relationship is nonidentical between the two directions) but are not in
English: examples being:
XARIS--in the reciprocal giving situation, refers both to gift and gratitude
CENOS--in the reciprocal relationship of hospitality, refers both to host
and guest

God Bless!
Joe A. Friberg

----- Original Message -----
From: "Stevens, Charles C" <>
To: "Biblical Greek" <>
Sent: Monday, January 03, 2000 12:15 PM
Subject: "Enemy" as gloss for EXQROS (and Sin, Nun, Aleph)

> I've been doing some digging on this particular word, and its context, and
> its background in that context (Proverbs 25:21-22, in both LXX and MT,
> e.g.).
> It seems to me that the word "enemy" in English has come to carry a
> significant implication of *reciprocal* hostility, not just one-sided --
> a way, in English, it seems to me that one cannot become your *enemy*
> without you yourself at the very least acknowledging that person's status
> your enemy, and most generally responding with at least some degree of
> hostility or firm defensiveness.
> Conversely, both EXQROS in Rom 12:20 and LXX Proverbs 25(29?).21 and the
> Hebrew precedent in the MT seem to bear the specific connotation "hater",
> and seem to me further to be primarily, and perhaps even exclusively,
> unidirectional in that regard. "He that hateth" in the KJV is often used
> translate the same Hebrew root (e.g., Proverbs 28:16), though the LXX
> usually seems to render the verb form of that root with MISW.
> Taken in isolation, I don't see EXQROS as carrying much more "directional"
> weight than "one that is hostile", acquiring a directional sense only from

> context (as in Rom 12:20 hO EXQROS SOU); any "reciprocal" or
> sense it may have, if indeed it carries that sense at all, is
> weaker than that carried by the English word "enemy".
> In the case of both Romans 12:20 and LXX Proverbs 25(29):20-21, I would
> prefer "one that is hostile to you" or "one that hates you" to "your
> as a more accurate (if more clumsy) Modern English translation (of both
> Greek and Hebrew).
> Am I way off base?
> -Chuck Stevens
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