The Use of the word gold in the NT

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Sun Jan 13 09:40:46 EST 2002

At 12:47 PM +0000 1/13/02, Martin Wells wrote:
>I am a very amateur NT Greek student and would like some help on a
>couple of words.
>I've been scratching my head recently over the use of the two words for
>'gold' in the NT.
>First, there's Strong's No. 5557 CRUSOS which refers to precious things
>made of gold and coins and second, there's Strong's No. 5553 CRUSION (a
>diminutive of 5557) which refers to gold in the ground and dug out and
>also coins, ornaments and 'precious things'
>[Moderator's note: New list-members, please don't paste into a
>message bits of Greek text copied from a program with a Greek
>font; use instead the transliteration scheme recommended in
>the B-Greek FAQ; otherwise your cited Greek will appear (to some
>extent) as gobbledy-gook on most users' screens. I have altered
>the above words to conform to our standard transliteration.]
>See for the NT lexicon which I've been using.
>Examples of the usage of these two words throughout the NT are confusing
>to me as they can both mean coins and objects and the base metal:
>For example, the following passages use 5557: Mat 2:11, 10:9, James 5:3
>and the following use 5553: Acts 3:6, 20:33 and 1 Peter 1:18 yet they
>all just translate in the New Revised Standard Version as 'gold'.
>How can we tell whether they are referring to coins, metal or objects?
>And are there any examples outside the NT which can help? Is it a case
>of just having to make a best guess from what the context is inferring?
>Hope you can shed some light on this for me,
>Best Wishes,

I think that you may be inclined to make more of this distinction than it
is really worth. CRUSION is a diminutive of CRUSOS; it may more likely be
used of a manufactured item made of gold such as a coin or a ring or the
like, but the words are nevertheless essentially synonymous, just as are
the words for "silver," ARGUROS and its diminutive form ARGURION. If I'm a
border guard addressing a traveler, I may ask, "Do you have any silver or
gold?" and use those words generically to refer most likely to coins of
standard minting. If I'm an assessor of property and ask, "Do you have any
gold," I may well be asking if the person addressed has gold bullion in a
safe somewhere or if s/he has jewelry which is highly valued. So yes,
CRUSION and ARGURION are diminutives, but they're still essentially
synonymous with CRUSOS and ARGUROS. Also, for what it's worth, you might
note that the substitution of diminutive forms for the simpler forms in
standard usage is a common linguistic phenomenon.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at OR cwconrad at

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