GLOSSARY:
Basic Terms for Biblical Study
Compiled by Sheila E. McGinn, Ph.D.
last update: 19 October 2009

A.D.
abbreviation of " anno Domini ," the year of the Lord; refers to the period of history after the birth of the Messiah (JC)
agapetos
Greek word meaning "beloved." In a Jewish context, when used in reference to a son, it endows the man with the rights of the bakkor
Adonai
Hebrew for "the Lord;" Adonai Elohim is a favorite title for God in the Elohist author of the Pentateuch
aetiology (or aetiological narrative)
a story that explains how a person, place, or thing came to have its name
akedah
Hebrew term referring to the test of Abraham when God asked him to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Gen 22)
A.N.E.
abbreviation for "the Ancient Near East"
anonymous
without a name; the four Gospels in the NT originally circulated anonymously, as did the Acts of the Apostles and the letter to the Hebrews
antinomianism
literally, "anti-legalism" or lawlessness; in regard to the NT Pauline corpus, it is the belief (expressed, e.g., by some Corinthians) that "all things are lawful" to those who are in Christ, that is, that individual conscience (apart from social impact) need be the only guide for ethical behavior; also known as libertinism.
aphorism
see "proverb"
apocalypse
unveiling; a synonym for revelation
apodictic law
law that is to be applied universally; in the Hebrew Bible, it usually is indicated by the formula "Thou shalt" or "Thou shalt not." The Decalogue is a key example of apodictic law.
apocrypha
rejected books; the writings that were excluded from the Bible
apostle
an emissary or ambassador; one who is sent out to represent someone else
architectural specifications
precise directions for how to construct an object, including its dimensions, materials to be used, etc.
audience criticism
the process of determining what type of people were the original recipients of a speech or text
B.C.
Before Christ
B.C.E.
Before the Common Era (= period before Christ)
baptism
a one-time water rite that marks the initiation of persons into the Christian community
bakkor
Hebrew for "first-born," the term refers to the rights and privileges that apply to the family heir. These include, among other things: inheritance of all real property; command over siblings, servants, and other subordinates in the household; control of all the father's holdings and priestly leadership in the household in his absence.
basileia tou Theou
the reign of the one, true God, who rules with universal justice
berakah
Hebrew for "blessing," it can refer to either an invocation of God's blessings on humans or a praising of God by humans.
berit
Hebrew for "covenant;" as in " karat berit ," "to cut a covenant"
Bible
the books; library
birkhat ha minim
name given to an addition to the Eighteen Benedictions recited during daily synagogue worship, ca. C.E.90, that put a curse upon heretics, including followers of the Nazarene (i.e., Jesus of Nazareth)
bishop
an overseer; during the first century C.E., this word began to denote specific Christians who were leaders of their particular community.
C.E.
abbreviation for "common era;" refers to the same period of time that Christians call A.D.
ca.
abbreviation for "circa," meaning "at about that time"
Call story
a story that recounts an event where a human being experiences a theophany —i.e., is visited by God or one or more of God's messengers—and given a particular task to carry out; this "visitation" can be depicted either as an audition, a dream or vision, or as an appearance of God in the form of a material being (e.g., burning bush, fiery pillar, human being)
Canaan
According to the HB, the land that God promised to Abraham (Gen. 12; 15; 17), which was given to the Israelites under Joshua after the Exodus from Egypt and wilderness wanderings; since the Roman period, this region has been called "Palestine."
Canon
the list of Biblical books; a set of writings that provide one's "rule of life"
canon criticism
the belief that no passage from the Bible should be understood except in the context of the entire Bible
case law
law that is contingent upon specific circumstances; e.g., "If X does y, then z is the punishment."
chreia
a pronouncement that "such and such is the case." E.g., Mark 3:35 says that one of Jesus' pronouncements was "whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."
christ
messiah
Christmas
the Christ-Mass, that is, the Mass celebrating the birth of Christ (on Dec 25th)
Christian
follower of Christ
Christology
study of Christ
circumcision
(In Hebrew, bris ) the removal of the foreskin of the penis. In Genesis 17, God tells Abraham that he and his male descendents should be circumcised so that God will have a physical sign of their belonging to the covenant and being heirs to God's promises to Abraham.  Jews and Muslims continue this tradition to this day.
collegium
a type of group organization that involves rotating leadership and inclusion of each member in decision-making
conflict story
a narrative depicting a verbal and/or physical struggle between two parties
covenant
n. a treaty, contract or agreement between two parties;
v. to establish a covenant relationship.
In the A.N.E., there are three basic types of covenants:  the land grant (a deed whereby a landowner gives part of that property to a another party/client), the parity treaty (between two equal parties) and the suzerainty treaty (between a suzerain/overlord and a vassal).  The HB describes God's relationship with Israel as a covenant relationship dating back to Abraham.  There are various traditions characterizing this covenant relationship, and using all three of these models to illustrate it.
covenant renewal ceremony
a description of the ritual for renewing the terms of a covenant that already has been in force; in the A.N.E., typically this was done on an annual basis.
curse
the invocation of divine retribution upon someone, especially as a reprisal for violating a covenant witnessed by that deity
creation
the doctrine that the things that exist form a coherent universe that exists because of Divine choice and initiative. Genesis 1–3 contains two stories or "creation myths" depicting how the universe came to be and how God is related to that created world, especially human beings.
deacon
servant, waiter; toward the end of the first century C.E., this word comes to denote a specific group of people within the Christian community who are in charge of celebrating the Lord's Supper, the agape feast.
deliberative rhetoric
a mode of persuasion focusing on the future and having the honor and advantage to be derived from a particular action as its primary topics.
deuteroPauline
coming from a "second Paul;" refers to those writings in the New Testament that claim to be from Paul but are believed by scholars to come from one or more of Paul's "students."
diakonos
servant, waiter; toward the end of the first century C.E., this word comes to denote a specific group of people within the Christian community who are in charge of celebrating the Lord's Supper, the agape feast; deacon
dialogical-critical
an approach to Biblical study that asks not only what the text says but what it omits
doctrinal
an approach to Biblical study that uses a creed to delimit and/or explicate the meaning of a text
edût
Hebrew term for "covenant" used primarily by the Priestly source to refer to the covenant of Sinai as distinct from the covenants with Abram or David
election
the doctrine that a person or people is specially chosen by God for a specific role or task in the world
Elohim
Hebrew for "the gods," it is used in the later sources of the HB as a "plural of majesty" to refer to the one God of Israel; the Elohist source in particular favors this name for God
emet
Hebrew term meaning "truth, faithfulness, persistence;" in the HB, it is a characteristic of God that the people of Israel are invited to imitate
epideictic rhetoric
a mode of persuasion focusing on the present and having praise or blame of an individual (or group) as its primary topic; also called "demonstrative" rhetoric
epiphany
Greek word meaning "appearance" or coming; the deuteroPauline letters use this term to denote the coming of Christ in glory to judge the world
episcopos
an overseer; during the first century C.E., this word began to denote specific Christians who were leaders of their particular community; bishop
epistle
a letter of pastoral guidance
eschatology
study of the "last things," the end of the world as we know it and the establishment of a new era of peace and justice under Divine rule
Eschaton
the last things, i.e., the things pertaining to the coming of God's kingdom and/or the end of the world as we know it
Essene
one of the four sects of first century C.E. Judaism, this was a group of radical purists who led monastic lives in the desert near the Dead Sea and awaited God's salvation through two messiahs: a kingly (and warrior) messiah of David's line and a priestly messiah descended from Aaron
evangelist
one who proclaims the good news
exegesis
the process of discerning the meaning of a text for its original, historical audience. According to Catholic teaching, this is the initial objective of Biblical study in the Church. See also literal meaning .
exile
being forcibly evicted from your homeland.  The ancient Israelites (technically, the Judeans, since it was the southern kingdom) were sent into Exile in Babylon when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia conquered the Kingdom of Judah, destroyed Solomon's Temple and took possession of the city of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.E.
Exodus
a coming forth; the story told in the second book of the Bible.  In particular, the act of God, through the leadership of Moses, liberating the Israelites from slavery in Egypt (ca. 1250 B.C.E.) and drawing them forth into the Promised Land.
forensic rhetoric
a mode of persuasion focusing on the past and having the guilt or innocence of an individual (or group) as its primary topic.
form criticism
the process of categorizing a pericope according to its structure and its original life setting. See this site for some examples of NT forms
fundamentalism
an approach to the Bible that insists that everything it includes must be taken as historical fact and at face value ("it happened just like it says"). Also called " literalism " or " historicism," this approach insists that the Bible is "God's Word" in the sense of "the WORDS of God," totally ignoring the existence of the hundreds of textual variations among the Biblical manuscripts.
futuristic eschatology
a view of the "last things" as not yet accomplished
genealogy
an ordered list of someone's ancestors; a family tree (e.g., Matt 1)
gnosis
knowledge of Divine mysteries revealed only to a chosen few, called the "elect"
Gnosticism
late first century A.D.religious movement characterized by the belief that one is saved through illumination, i.e. being initiated into secret knowledge (gnosis ) known only to members of the sect
go'el
Hebrew word meaning "savior, liberator." This term typically refers to YHWH in the Hebrew Bible, but also is used of Boaz in the book of Ruth, since he will be the instrument of divine salvation for Ruth and Naomi.
gospel
good news; especially, the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ who died and whom God has raised from the dead.
hamatz
Hebrew term meaning "sin, wickedness." According to Genesis 6, the earth was filled with hamatz and this is why God had to send the flood.
Hellenist
a promoter of the Greek language, customs, and ways of thought.
hermeneutics
the process of reflecting on the assumptions behind one's interpretation and exegesis of a text, especially in light of their political ramifications.
hermeneutics of consent
a type of Biblical analysis that assumes that everything that is necessary for modern Christians is found in the Bible.
hermeneutics of suspicion
a type of Biblical analysis that assumes that the Bible includes some, but not all, things that are necessary for modern Christians' belief and practice.
hesed
Hebrew term meaning "loving-kindness, tenderness, faithful devotion;" in the HB, it is a characteristic of God's relationship to Israel
historicism
not to be confused with the historical approach; see fundamentalism .
holocaust
a sacrificial offering that is not eaten as a communion meal but rather is totally consumed by fire.  By extension, it came to refer to the murder of over six million Jews (as well as hundreds of thousands of Armenians, Gypsies, and Black people) under Adolf Hitler during the Nazi Socialist period in Germany.
house church
a community of Jesus' followers who meet in a private home, usually one belonging to one of the members of the community; the householder serves as patron to the group (see definition below).
household code
a list of roles in the patriarchal household (e.g., paterfamilias , wife/matron, children, slaves) and what behavioral codes apply to each of these roles; in some of the later NT writings that view the church as "the household of God" (e.g., 1 Peter, 1–2 Timothy, Titus), the roles include the offices of bishop, deacon, presbyter, and widow.
hymn
a song addressed to a deity, usually in poetic form
incarnation
Dogma that the one, true, eternal God has entered into human reality in an absolute way (body, soul, spirit, history, culture) in the reality of God's messiah, Jesus of Nazareth
inerrancy
a view of the Bible that claims it is without error in regard to faith and morals (practice).
inspiration
"God-breathed," that is, God's Word expressed in human language.
interpretation
the process of discerning how the original meaning of a text can be appropriated for us today.
Jehovah
a name for God created by the mistaken conflation of the Hebrew tetragrammaton and the vowel sounds for the liturgical title for God, "Adonai," which should be used instead of the Divine Name in the proclamation of the scriptures during synagogue services.
Jesus
name meaning "Yahweh saves." Also, Jesus of Nazareth, born ca. 4 B.C.E., was a wandering preacher in first century C.E. Palestine executed by the Romans for subversion ca. C.E. 30.  His followers claimed that God raised him from the dead to prove that he was the long-awaited messiah.
Jewish-Roman War (first)
an armed rebellion of different Jewish groups acting sometimes in concert and sometimes opposing each other.  The hostilities began in C.E. 67 and was led partly by disaffected priests and partly by nationalistic zealots who followed Jewish militants.  Each group had a leader whom they viewed as God's messiah (e.g., John of Gischala and Simon bar Giora), but they did not agree with the other groups as to the identity of the messiah.  The Roman army, first under Vespasian and then under Titus, eventually put down the insurrection, sacking Jerusalem in C.E.70 and taking Masada, the last stronghold, in 73.
judges
the charismatic and prophetic leaders of the people of Israel during the time between the entry into the Promised Land under Joshua (ca. 1200 B.C.E.) and the rise of the Israelite monarchy under Saul (ca. 1000 B.C.E.).  Most were both religious and military leaders.  Some of the most famous judges were Deborah, Gideon, Samson, and Samuel.
judicial rhetoric
another name for forensic rhetoric.
kashrut
In English, "kosher"; that which is required by Torah to maintain ritual purity before the God of Israel. The laws of kosher reflect the order of creation, where God differentiated the birds of the air from the animals of the sea from those of the land, and humans from them all (e.g., Lev. 11; cf. Ex 22:19; 34:26b).
kerygma
the central elements of the Christian faith: Christ died according to the Scriptures to deliver us out of the present evil Age; he was buried; God raised him up on the third day according to the Scriptures; he is exalted at the right hand of God; he will come again as Judge & Savior of the world.  A "shorthand" version of this is "Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again."
Kethub'im
The collection of writings that forms the third part of the Jewish Bible; it includes the wisdom literature (like Job, Proverbs, Ecclesaistes) and poetic works (like the Psalms and Canticles).
L
abbreviation for an hypothetical (oral or written) source used by the third evangelist, "Luke"
lament
a complaint addressed to God, by an individual or group, that includes an explicit request that God will intervene and rectify the problem that is the subject of the complaint
liberation theology
a theological approach that emphasizes those passages in the Bible that depict God's action on behalf of the oppressed.
libertinism
literally, belief in freedom of ethical practice; in regard to the NT Pauline corpus, it is the belief (expressed, e.g., by some Corinthians) that "all things are lawful" to those who are in Christ, that is, that individual conscience (apart from social impact) need be the only guide for ethical behavior; also known as antinomianism.
literal meaning
refers to the meaning the biblical text had for its original, historical audience; the understanding a contemporary reader can gain from the text by using lexical aids and information on the history and culture of the author(s)
literalism
see fundamentalism .
literary criticism
the study of an author's style, vocabulary, etc.
M
abbreviation for an hypothetical (oral or written) source used by the evangelist known as "Matthew"
macarism
a "beatitude" or blessing formula; the typical structure is "blessed are the X, for they shall receive Y"—although occasionally the "Y" element remains unspecified.
messiah
anointed one, especially, one anointed or set apart by God for a special task (e.g. King of Israel, prophet).
metaphor
from " metaphero ," to carry across; an implied comparison of two dissimilar realities stated in terms of equivalency (e.g., God is "King," Jesus is God's "Son," Jesus is the "Lamb" of God)
midrash
a type of interpretation where one Biblical passage is used to uncover the meaning of another, or where two passages that pose an apparent contradiction to one another are harmonized by means of a third passage that resolves the contradiction.
miracle
an event that occurs in the natural world but that is contrary to the conventional understanding of what is "normal," and hence is attributed to divine intervention; e.g., cure of serious illness without the use of medicines, raising someone from the dead
mitzvot
Hebrew word meaning "commandments, ordinances, rules for life."  According to rabbinic tradition, the Torah contains 613 commandments, not just the Ten that are more commonly known.
Nebi'im
The Biblical prophets and their writings (e.g., Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel); also, the second part of the Jewish Bible, which includes both the Latter (or "writing") Prophets and the Former Prophets (the stories of those who did not write down their message).  The Former Prophets are also called the Deuteronomistic History (Joshua, Judges, 1–2 Samuel, 1–2 Kings).
oracle
a message from a deity, often transmitted through a human voice; can also refer to the person who is the medium of this divine message
ordination
consecration of a priest or other religious functionary
P
the designation of the Priestly source of the Pentateuchal materials, usually dated to ca.450 B.C.E.  P  is often thought to be the compiler/ redactor of the earlier sources (J, E & D) who gave the final shape to the Pentateuch as we know it.
parable
a story that challenges the preconceptions of the audience and, thus, invites them to adopt a totally different view of the world (and God); Mark says Jesus used these so people would not understand him.
paraenesis
ethical teaching/exhortation.
Parousia
Greek word meaning coming, appearance; usually refers to the coming of a King or Emperor with great power and glory; Paul uses it to refer to the coming of Christ in glory to judge the world.
patriarch
oldest male who is head of a family or clan
patriarchy
father-rule; a hierarchical form of group organization.
patron
in the Greco-Roman period, a person who financially supports a group (or individual) and advocates for them, usually providing the economic resources for group activities such as shared meals, and often providing meeting space in the patron's villa; as financial backer, the patron has a direct interest in the group's public activities, if any, and has the leverage to shape group organization and policies
Pentateuch
the first five books of the Bible; Torah
pericope
a set of verses that form one coherent unit or thought.
Pesach
Hebrew for "Passover," this feast comes from a combination of an earlier Spring harvest festival (the feast of unleavened bread) and a nomadic celebration of the move to the summer pasturelands (involving a sacrifice of one new lamb). Because Jesus died at Passover, Christians took over the Pesach festival and gave it a new meaning concerning the event of his death-resurrection; they call it Easter.
pesher
a type of commentary where a Biblical passage (even in an historical book) is viewed as a prophecy that has been fulfilled in some specific events, usually of the present or very recent past.
Pharisee
one of the four sects of first century C.E. Judaism, this was a lay movement to revive religious practice and study of the Torah, especially in rural areas, by organizing synagogues; this group believed in angels, the resurrection of the dead, and in interpretation of the Torah in light of the present circumstances.
positivist-historical
an approach to Biblical study that uses other historical sources to delimit and/or explicate the meaning of a text.
presbyter
old man, elder.
primeval history
a story set in the "time before time" or "time out of mind"; an origins myth
prophecy
the Word of God for a particular people at a particular time and place; in the Hebrew Bible, NOT to be confused with prediction of the future, although some NT texts tend to use it in this way
prophet
one who speaks forth the Word of God.
prostatis
Greek word meaning "president" or "patron."
proverb
a pithy saying; a statement of common wisdom
providence
God's on-going activity to sustain and develop the universe God created
pseudonymous
having a false name; refers to those writings in the NT in that the author claimed to be Paul (or Peter, James, Jude or John) but really was someone else.
psalm
a poetic hymn addressed to God
Q
abbreviation for "Quelle," the German word for "source;" Q is a hypothetical sayings source shared by "Matthew" and "Luke."  Many scholars have attempted to reconstruct this source, often viewed as a literary collection similar to what is found in the Gospel of Thomas, and dated to ca. C.E. 50.
rabbi
a word that means "teacher," it refers in particular to a person who studies and who helps others to know the Torah. This came to be the common title for a leader among the Jews in the period after the destruction of the Second Temple, on account of which the Judaisim of this period is called "rabbinic" Judaism.
realized eschatology
belief that the "final things" are a present reality for the elect of God
redaction history
the study of the history of editing of a text and how different literary stages of the text were used.
redactor
editor
resurrection
God's justification of Jesus by raising him from the dead to new life in the body; God's public declaration that Jesus was innocent of the charges brought against him and that his testimony about God was true; by extension, the restoration of embodied human life at the Final Judgment to the righteous dead.
revelation
unveiling; God making the divine Self known to human beings; for Christians, this comes especially through Christ.
rhetoric
the art of persuasion.
rhetorical criticism
the analysis of the forms and uses of argumentation in a speech or text.
rib
Hebrew for "law suit," it refers especially to the legal complaint God makes against Israel (or Israel's complaint against God, as in Numbers) for violating the covenant
riddle
a question or statement that requires a creative imagination to answer or understand
ritual consecration
a ceremony where someone or something is set aside and dedicated to divine service; e.g., anointing of a priest
rubrics
"stage directions" for what should be done during a religious ceremony
Sabbath
See Shabbat.
sacrifice
the ritual slaughter of a living creature, animal or human, and roasting of it on an open fire as an offering to a particular deity. Typically, the offering is then shared out and eaten by those who participated in the ritual. At other times, the sacrifice is totally incinerated in the fire, in which case it is called a " holocaust ."
saddiq or tsaddiq
Hebrew for "a just person," i.e., one who obeys the covenantal demands of justice
Sadducee
one of the four sects of first century C.E. Judaism, this was the group of priests who promoted the Jerusalem Temple cult, believed in Torah alone, did not believe in angels or the resurrection of the dead, and who supported the control of Rome over Palestine.
Sanhedrin
In Greek, synedrion ; the Jewish court, based in Jerusalem; a judicial body composed of 71 members, 70 who were priests and scribes (Sadducees and Pharisees) and the president who was the high priest. Their jurisdiction was over Jews, primarily those in Jerusalem, and was limited to matters involving alleged infringement of the Jewish law (the Torah) and taxes; during the time of Roman occupation of Palestine, the jurisdiction of the Sanhedrin was limited by Rome and the decisions of the court seem to have required the approval of the Roman governor, at least in matters involving the death penalty, though there are records of instances when, during a vacancy of the Roman procuratorship, the Sanhedrin seems to have imposed the death penalty without Roman consent or review.
scriptures
the writings that comprise the Bible.
sedaqah or tsedaqah
Hebrew for "righteousness," "justice," especially under the covenant with God
seer
a visionary; one who conveys a Divine message in visual imagery
Shabbat
Hebrew referring to the seventh day of the week, the day of rest (according to Gen. 2:1–4a) when God took joy in Creation. Humans should imitate God by doing likewise, avoiding work on the Sabbath and spending time in re-creation.
Sinai
According to the HB, the mountain where Moses led the people of Israel after the Exodus so they could worship God there and receive the tablets of the Law (the Ten Commandments) that became the sign of God's Covenant with them
soteria
Greek term meaning "health" or "wholeness;" salvation
soteriology
the study or discussion of "soteria" or "salvation;" click here for more details on the NT view of soteria
source criticism
the process of determining the social and geographic origins of a pericope.
Sukkoth
The Feast of Tabernacles/Tents/Booths (sing. sukkah ). A Fall harvest festival that commemorates the Israelites' wandering in the wilderness for forty years after the Exodus from Egypt and before their entry into the Promised Land.
synagogue
a gathering of Jews (including at least ten men) for prayer.
synopsis
a summary (NOT to be confused with SYNOPTIC).
synoptic
having a similar view (NOT to be confused with synopsis). Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the "synoptic" gospels.
Tanach or Tanakh
the Jewish Bible or Old Testament, which is comprised of three parts: the Torah (the Instruction or Law), the Nebi'im (the Prophets), and the Kethub'im (the "Writings," including the historical and wisdom books)
Temple
the center of Jewish life and worship from the time when it was built by Solomon (ca. 950 B.C.E.), the son and heir of the great King David.  Deuteronomy teaches that there must be only one place of sacrificial worship in Israel, and that is the Temple in Jerusalem.  Destroyed first by the Babylonians in 587/586 B.C.E., it was rebuilt under Cyrus of Persia after he freed the Israelites from Exile ca.538 B.C.E..  The second Temple was expanded under Herod the Great (in the first century B.C.E.), but then destroyed by the Roman General Titus when Jerusalem was sacked in C.E. 70.  The Jews were dispersed from the city and the Temple has never been rebuilt.
Textual criticism
the process of determining the most reliable reading for a text from the study of many manuscripts.
theocracy
rule by God or, in an extended sense, by God's Law and/or God's agents.
theophany
An appearance of God or divine messengers to a human or group of humans, typically in material form or when the recipient(s) is/are in a dreamlike state
Torah
Hebrew for "teaching, instruction," the proper noun refers to the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), which comprise the central teachings of Judaism; also called the Pentateuch.
transsubstantiation
a Latinism that was Thomas Aquinas' preferred way of expressing the dogma of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist
Trinity
the dogma that God is most fully revealed in the three "persons" or "personae" of Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier
Tri-Theism
belief in three gods [THIS IS MOST DEFINITELY NOT THE SAME AS TRINITY, above]
tsaddiq
Hebrew for someone who is "righteous," i.e., who fulfills the law of God and lives in right relationship with God and neighbor
tsedakah
 Hebrew for "righteousness, living in conformity with the will and law of God."
"two natures" doctrine
the dogma, defined at the Council of Chaldedon (C.E. 451), that Christ is both fully human and fully divine
tzitzit
Hebrew for "fringes, tassels;" it refers to the knotted fringes that are found on the four corners of the yoke-shaped garment worn all the time by orthodox Jews and by other Jews when they are reading Torah.
vision
a Divine message expressed in pictorial form
widow
an unmarried woman (or one no longer married) who engaged in teaching, preaching, and hospitality ministries in early Christian (esp. Pauline) churches
"Word of God"
From a Catholic perspective, this phrase refers to Jesus Christ, the Divine Word Incarnate, who entered into human history and culture to make the presence and reality of God known in its fullness. The Bible is only a derivation from this event of God's self-revelation because it attests to the human experience of it. (See here for further information.) From a fundamentalist perspective, this is the Bible itself that contains the exact words of God dictated to the human authors.
yada'
Hebrew for "to know" (lit. "he knows"). This verb has a range of meaning from knowing something intellectually to being sexually intimate with someone. In a legal context, it refers to the faithful relationship of two parties to a covenant who "know" each other as allies. Frequently, it refers to the specific covenant relationship called a suzerainty treaty, and refers to the vassal's acknowledgement of exclusive allegiance to the overlord.
Yahweh
The unspeakable Divine Name; proper name for the God of Israel, it means "I am the one who will be there [for you]"
yalak
Hebrew for "to walk" (lit. "he knows"), this term refers to the relationship a vassal has toward a suzerain in a suzerainty treaty, "walking" before the suzerain, keeping covenant fealty and obedience to the suzerain's will and the covenant demands
Yeshua
Aramaic name meaning "Yahweh is my salvation," it is transliterated "Joshua" or "Jesus" in English.
Yehoshuah
Hebrew for "Yahweh is my salvation." The name often was shortened to " Yeshua" in Aramaic, and usually is transliterated "Joshua" in English.
yetzer ha-ra
Hebrew for the human inclination to do injustice, evil
yetzer ha-tov
Hebrew for the human inclination to do justice, goodness, "the right thing"
yihyeh
Hebrew for "I will be there," it is the verb form underlying the Divine Name in the HB
Yisrael
Hebrew for "one who is seen by God," it becomes Jacob's proper name after his wrestling with the angel (Gen. 38); the name usually is transliterated "Israel" in English.
Yitsach
Hebrew meaning "God laughs," the proper name usually is transliterated "Isaac" in English.
Zealot
one of the four sects of first century C.E. Judaism, this was a group of radicals who wanted to use force to oust the Romans and re-establish an independent theocratic Jewish state in Palestine.
Zion
the mountain on which the city of Jerusalem was built; also, the city of Jerusalem itself.
Zionism
the political movement of support for the modern State of Israel, especially that based on the religious belief that Palestine was the Promised Land that God gave to the ancient Israelites and, therefore, ought now to belong to the Jewish people by divine right.
 
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