[B-Greek] Matthew 22:37: DIANOIA vs NOUS

Taylor Swendsen taylor at swendsen.org
Mon Oct 8 01:07:05 EDT 2007

I can't speak for NT usage, but there appears to be a marked difference in
the way some ancient Greek philosophers (Plato, Aristotle) used these two
words (NOUS to refer to the mind as a whole, gaining understanding through
direct or intuitive apprehension, and DIANOSIS to refer to the portion of
the mind responsible for analytic reasoning, which could not in and of
itself produce true knowledge).

Whether or not any of these ideas were still associated with the words at
the time of the NT writing is beyond my knowledge.

I do know that Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Christian Mysticism (among
many other groups) tend to emphasize the importance of Spiritual Knowledge
(obtained through direct revelation) over that which can be ascertained by
man's rational mind (i.e. through general revelation).  Both of these groups
use the dichotomy between the NOUS and DIANOSIS as part of their theology.
You may find searching through their literature produces more information
that what you might obtain in traditional evangelical lexicons and
theological dictionaries.

I hope this meager tidbit of information helps in some way.
Taylor Swendsen

DIANOESIS: Reasoning; sequential; used in Euclidean geometry
-----Original Message-----
From: b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Anthony
Sent: Sunday, October 07, 2007 7:46 PM
To: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: [B-Greek] Matthew 22:37: DIANOIA vs NOUS

Hello all

In Matthew, when Jesus is referring to the great commandment, the Greek
record refers to DIANOIA.


In his rush to biblical 'precision' in translation, I have been challenged
by a friend to identify why DIANOIA was chosen here, and not NOUS.  I have
responded in two ways:

1    I do not find guessing games into the possible thinking of the author
overly productive, and

2   The two words seem to me to convey the same concept - the mind.

His assertion is that DIANOIA refers to the centre of the willpower, not
the mind in general.

I have been looking through several lexicons and Greek concordances, and
struggle to find any usage that might actually validate his impression. 
However, always open to correction, I am wondering if any readers here can
point me to a work that shows there is a genuine difference between


Anthony Rimell, New Zealand

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