[B-Greek] PSALLW (was RE: "The lexicon is wrong!")

frjsilver at optonline.net frjsilver at optonline.net
Tue Sep 25 10:14:05 EDT 2007

Dear Friends --

Although, while perhaps trying a bit too hard to be American,  many (not all) Greek Orthodox parishes in North America have installed organs (and pews!), the authentic orthodox tradition relies on the meaning of YALLW as something like 'chant' or 'sing poetry' -- no musical instruments involved. To my knowledge, there are no Slavic-flavored parishes in NA with organs.  We do use bells (where that's allowed) and we knock LOUDLY on large, resonant wooden planks to call people to prayer where bells are forbidden, as in Muslim countries.

Anyway, church singing was theologized way back, so we have early Christian Greek fathers instructing us that only the human voice is fit to praise God, and hence -- in spite of what we know of worship at the Temple -- instruments are forbidden to Christians.

This practical expression of YALLW seems to reflect an appreciation of the divine LOGOS and of our relative position as LOGIKOI.  The puns are endless!

Organs were used in the circus (classical meaning) and other secular entertainments in prechristian Rome, never in Roman temples as far as we know.  And even now the Greeks never tire of reminding people that the first organ known in Western Europe in the Christan era was a gift to Charlemage from his Byzantine counterpart, to be used for fun and pleasure.  

But Big Charlie installed it in his church, much to the befuddled amusement of the Greeks at the time, and the rest -- as they say -- is history.

I realize that this comes as a bit of bad news for the church musicians among us, and I certainly don't mean to insult them or to demean their worship.  But it's good to know the history.

Peace and blessings to all.

Father James

Monk James Silver 
Orthodox Church in America

----- Original Message -----
From: Perry Stepp 
Date: Tuesday, September 25, 2007 9:04 am
Subject: [B-Greek] PSALLW (was RE: "The lexicon is wrong!")
To: 'Jonathan Robie' 
Cc: B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org

> An example that I have personally encountered has to do with the 
> meaning of
> My friends in the non-instrumental Churches of Christ have 
> consistentlyargued that, in the New Testament period, PSALLW 
> referred to unaccompanied
> (i.e., a capella) singing, and NOT singing accompanied by stringed
> instruments. 
> My understanding is that the green BAGD (2nd edition) reflects 
> this view.
> I'm not sure about BDAG.
> (I, shamefaced, admit that I do not have the 2nd OR the 3rd 
> edition. I've
> always been satisfied with old blue, and bothered my colleagues 
> when I
> needed the newer editions.)
> Perry L. Stepp, Ph.D.
> Dean, Sack School of Bible & Ministry
> Associate Professor, Bible & Theology
> Kentucky Christian University
> "Every once in a while, you get shown the light
> In the strangest of places, if you look at it right."
> --Robert Hunter, "Scarlet Begonias"
> -----Original Message-----
> From: b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
> [mailto:b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Jonathan Robie
> Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2007 8:37 AM
> To: B-Greek
> Subject: [B-Greek] "The lexicon is wrong!"
> I'm involved in a discussion that revolves around the meaning of 
> a few
> Greek words, and some of the participants in the discussion (who
> actually don't speak Greek) are claiming that a particular word 
> doesn'tmean what it says the lexicon says, but means something 
> significantlydifferent. I doubt that they are right, and none of 
> is is a
> lexicographer, but this makes me wonder ...
> Can you think of examples where the meaning of a New Testament passage
> has changed in the eyes of mainstream scholarship because we 
> came to
> realize that our earlier understanding of a Greek word was 
> wrong? Are
> there recent examples, say, in the last 20-30 years? Are there major
> changes in the meaning of some words between BADG and BDAG?
> Jonathan
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