The Pagan, Heathen, Barbarian

Definition of terms and explanation of concepts

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DavidLeon
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The Pagan, Heathen, Barbarian

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The Hebrew term amha arets, along with its plural forms can be found 67 times throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. Originally this was a term of respect, meaning "the citizens possessing the full rights," [1] One Bible dictionary put it this way: "in the strict sense includes only the responsible male citizenry, the married men who live on their own land and have full rights and duties, including the duty of serving in the army and of participating in judicial proceedings and . . . festivals.” [2] (Leviticus 20:2-5 / 2 Kings 15:5; 16:15 / Ezekiel 45:16, 22; 46:3, 9)

They were the people of the land, living on the field, or "heath." The distinction was marked here between the average citizen and the priestly or government authorities. (2 Kings 11:14 / Jeremiah 1:18) The people of the land, or the heathen, may have been rich or they may have been poor. (Ezekiel 22:25-29 / 2 Kings 24:14; 25:12) Not surprisingly the religious leaders of Judah would eventually see this distinction as one of a sort of class distinction in a negative sense. They began to distinguish either Jewish or non-Jewish people unlearned in or unwilling to follow the Law in a derogatory fashion. “Even if one has learnt Scripture and Mishnah, if he has not ministered to the disciples of the wise, he is an ʽam haarez.” [3]

Of course, in time, especially from the perspective of the modern day observer, the brunt of these terms were used in application to those outside of the beliefs in question, whether Jewish or Christian. The term Heathen being the parallel of the later Greek term Paganus, likewise applied to those who lived outside of the cities and towns where the Christian missionaries found it more difficult to reach, resulting in those rural citizens having been the last to hear the good news of Christ and therefore more often having the beliefs of the nations surrounding Israel, though it is arguable whether or not these words were used then in such a manner.

Today the terms almost always have a negative, xenophobic implication behind them. As if anything Pagan must be avoided at all cost, and that isn't the case at all. It certainly wasn't in Bible times. They used the names of pagan gods in the months of their calendar like we do today, they changed their names from Jewish names to pagan names when among the pagans, for example. Today, we are, not surprisingly, surrounded by pagan concepts and ideas. For example, the wind chime was used in pagan nations to ward off evil spirits. Even the Christian baptism has pagan origins, but many Christians may be surprised to know that the majority of Christian teachings were adopted by an apostate church. These are spiritually harmful because they either mix or directly contradict the true teachings of the Bible. They are, hell, the cross, the immortal soul, holidays and the trinity. The rapture is included in this series as a latter day sort of pagan teaching.

The term for Barbarian, likewise, was a term that didn't begin as derogatory but eventually evolved into a derogatory term. From the Greek barbaros, a repeating of bar, which implied an unintelligible speach, barbarian was used by Greeks to describe foreigners who spoke a different language. Jewish writers such as Josephus considered themselves to be barbarians. [4] Paul also used the term at Romans 1:14.

Footnotes

[1] Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros, Leiden, 1958, page 711.

[2] The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Edited by G. A. Buttrick, 1962, Volume 1, page 106.

[3] Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 47b, translated by M. Simon.

[4] Jewish Antiquities, XIV, 187 [x, 1]; Against Apion, I, 58 [11]
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Re: The Pagan, Heathen, Barbarian

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Post by Aetixintro »

.
Perhaps the uneducated and vile people shouldn't be swept under the rug like that.

The former meaning of being educated way back in history implied at times a person who had been reading the Bible and maybe was in possession of onwe. Hence, those who live by The 10 Commandments.

It isn't true that all was so glorious and that the language of the Bible has been kept up to date. So therefore, it's unfair to the spirit of the Bible and its writers to "snake" through the various editions like that.

To us, in 2020 CE, heathens and barbarians do not mostly imply that much positive! That is, when "barbarians" is used today, it's implied that they were uncivilized, living largely without morality in their society.

Please mind. Though, I appreciate the context of these words as well, thanks, DavidLeon! :approve: :D 8-)
Last edited by Aetixintro on Sat Jun 06, 2020 12:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Pagan, Heathen, Barbarian

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Post by DavidLeon »

Aetixintro wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 11:30 pm
.
Perhaps the uneducated and vile people shouldn't be swept under the rug like that.

The former meaning way back in history implied at times a person who had been reading the Bible and maybe was in possession of one. Hence, those who live by The 10 Commandments.

It isn't true that all was so glorious and that the language of the Bible has been kept up to date. So therefore, it's unfair to the spirit of the Bible and its writers to "snake" through the various editions like that.

To us, in 2020 CE, heathens and barbarians do not mostly imply that much positive! That is, when "barbarians" is used today, it's implied that they were uncivilized, living largely without morality in their society.

Please mind. Though, I appreciate the context of these words as well, thanks, DavidLeon! :approve: :D 8-)
And thank you for your feedback, I appreciate it. The OP concentrated more on the way in which these terms were used early on. It is interesting that none of them had a derogatory implication until later. When I use the term pagan, especially, for example, in contrast to my own beliefs this is usually taken as derogatory and that isn't my intent at all. The word pagan, meaning outside of, is merely a separation. Those teachings were outside of the original teachings. It isn't a judgement on the teachings, it's a distinction.

Pagan practices are many in modern day life. The wedding ring, the tombstone, and mentioned in the OP, the Christian baptism, was practiced among the pagans as a public declaration. Generally speaking a Christian wouldn't want to mix the religious practices and teachings of the pagan with Christ's teachings, but there certainly isn't anything wrong with non-religious pagan practices. In fact it would be difficult to avoid them.
"Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty." - Frank Herbert, Chapterhouse: Dune

"I never really hated the one true god but the god of the people I hated" - Marilyn Manson: Disposable Teens

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