[B-Greek] Meaning of THERAPEUO
nyland at tsn.cc
Sat Jan 8 23:22:27 EST 2005
The papyri and inscriptions have added to our udnerstanding of this word, as
has Louise Wells of Australia's recent definitive work "The Greek language
of Healing from Homer to New Testament Times", (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter,
1998), see especially pp. 35, 39, 83, 510.
QERAPEUW describes the result of treatment which embraces physical and
psychological therapies, and usually involves a permanent change of
lifestyle - see, for example, IG IV2 1, no. 126. Continuity of action is
always stressed with this verb. In Thucydides' account of the plague, either
the present participle is used (2.47.4; 2.51.2; 2.51.3), or the cognate form
(2.51.4) or the future participle (2.51.5). Xenophon's use of the word
(Cyropaedia 3.2.12; Memorabilia 4.3.9) echoes that of Thucydides. From
Isocrates' writing, it is evident that the concept of emotional support is
implicit. Isocrates, Aegineticus 11, 20-33 describes treatment, and the
resultant healing demands a response in the person who needs the healing -
this person takes an active part in the healing process. Note that the
opposite Greek word means "neglect". QERAPEUW is associated with hearing
the Word (both in pagan and NT contexts) and is often associated with a
preaching context (again, bhoth in pagan and NT contexts). It is ongoing:
recovery may be rapid or slow. Diogenes Laertes says the terms that Epicurus
used for things were "ordinary" terms. DL 10.13. Where Epicurus uses
QERAPEUW to mean heal, the healing agent is the LOGOS of the philosopher.
Galen uses QERAPEUW to refer to the result of extended treatment, which
reflects its use by Hippokratic authors. E.& L. Edelstein, Asclepius: A
Collection and interpretation of the testimonies, 1945, Vol. 1., Baltimore,
T 436, Subfiguratio Empirica Cp. X, p. 78; IG IV2 1, no. 126. L. Wells p. 88
states, "Thus Galen is consistent in his use of therapeuo to describe
medical treatment, usually of an extended nature, that should be successful
(but may not be successful in some circumstances)." Galen sees the need for
QERAPEUW to treat "failures of function". Galen: On the natural faculties,
(trans. A.J. Brock) (London: The Loeb Classical Library of Galen, 1979), De
naturalibus facultatibus, 2.9 [2.126K.] pp. 194-196. The use of QERAPEUW by
the Hippokratic medical school indicates that recovery may be slow or rapid.
Aristides (Publius Aelius) was famous for his precision of style, and for
this reason his use of Greek healing language is instructive. He uses the
term QERAPEUW as "medical treatment". Significantly, he uses the opposite
term for "neglect". Aristides, vol. 1, trans. C.A. Behr, (London: Loeb
Classical Library Edition of Aristides, 1973), 1, 472, Or. 2.326, phrase
repeated in 327. Philo uses the term QERAPEUW to include ridding oneself of
griefs, fears, acts of greed, folly and injustice "and the countless host of
other passions and vices". Philo, The Contemplative Life, (trans. F.H.
Colson), (London: The Loeb Classical Library Edition of Philo, 1941), 2 Loeb
9, pp. 112-114. Philo makes it clear that QERAPEUW should be understood in a
spiritual sense, and places QERAPEUW ideally in a teaching context. In
Josephus, QERAPEUW refers to ongoing treatment which may or may not be
successful. Jewish Antiquities, (trans. R. Marcus), (London: The Loeb
Classical Library of Josephus, 1978), Vol. 6., 9-11, Ant., 9.121, p. 64.
QERAPEUW is linked with teaching and preaching. It is a continuous process,
and is linked with changing one's way of life. L. Wells states, "When
passive it (therapeuo) describes the result of God's healing logos, but this
result demands an active and ongoing response in the life of the hearer of
the word. Thus humans can be both healed and themselves take an active part
in the healing process." (op.cit., p. 119); "Therapeuo is the visible effect
of teaching and preaching, the 'action' product of the message." (ibid., p.
In Greek literature from Homer to NT times, QERAPEUW usually occurs in the
imperfect, suggesting ongoing action. It is rarely used in the aorist.
QERAPEUW is the most popular word in the New Testament language of healing.
In fact, it appears almost twice as often as the other N.T. popular word for
healing, IAOMAI. This is totally contrary to the incidence of the verb in
all Greek literature, as well as the Septuagint. In both the LXX and the
N.T. it is the human word, whereas IAOMAI is the God word.
The use of QERAPEUW in the NT is most consistent with its uses from earleir
centuries, and the person who was "healed" remained healed if they
contributed to their own "healing" (i.e. lifestyle). For ezxample, a person
who had a health problem from being very overweight and was "healed' was
likely not remain so if they continued to overeat and not exercise - whereas
a person with other types of healing, such as IAOMAI, was healed by a burst
of divine power (for want of a better description) and remained healed no
----- Original Message -----
From: "Robert A Bayer" <robertbayer at juno.com>
To: <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Sunday, January 09, 2005 2:39 PM
Subject: [B-Greek] Meaning of THERAPEUO
>I have been studying the meaning of yerapeuo in the New Testament and
> would appreciate any thoughts you might have regarding this.
> One specific aspect of meaning I am concerned about is whether all those
> who were "healed" in the NT were always cured, rehabilitated, and
> I have searched through several months of archives and this subject does
> not seem to have been discussed recently. If it has been discussed
> previously, I would appreciate being directed to that discussion.
> Thank you,
> Bob Bayer
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