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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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BOY (the word).—In the Authorized Version this word does not occur in the Gospels, nor indeed in NT, and only three times in OT (Genesis 25:27, Joel 3:3, Zechariah 8:5). We usually have ‘male child’ for a very young boy, and ‘lad’ for an older one, where ‘boy’ would be used in modern English. And Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 has retained the older use in most cases.

But there is in modern English an ambiguous use of ‘boy.’ It sometimes approximates to the sense of ‘servant’ (cf. ‘doctor’s boy’), and in some of our colonies is used of a native male servant irrespective of age. A ‘boy’ in this sense may be grey-headed. This force of the word made it suitable as a rendering of παῖς in certain cases. In Matthew 8:5-13 = Luke 7:2-10, the centurion’s servant is sometimes described as a δοῦλος ((Revised Version margin), ‘bond-servant’) and sometimes as a παῖς ((Revised Version margin), ‘boy’). Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 text keeps the Authorized Version ‘servant’ throughout for both words. A comparison of Matthew 8:13 with Luke 7:10 shows that the two words apply to the same person. It is in the centurion’s own speech (Matthew 8:6-8 = Luke 7:7) that he refers to the slave who was ‘precious unto him’ (Luke 7:2 (Revised Version margin)) by the milder word. The narrative (except Matthew 8:13) uses δοῦλος, as the centurion himself does in Matthew 8:9, Luke 7:8. The variation is either a natural simple touch, proving the veracity of the narrative, or it is an instance of the highest art. See art. Servant.

As in the above instance παῖς = δοῦλος, so in the narrative of the healing of the epileptic child (Matthew 17:14-18, Mark 9:14-27, Luke 9:37-43) we find in St. Matthew and St. Luke (not St. Mark) that παῖς can = υἱός. Here Matthew 17:18, Luke 9:42 Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 have ‘boy’ in the text, for the Authorized Version ‘child.’ Similar is the use in Luke 8:51-54, where ἡ παῖς is ‘maiden’ and ‘maid’ in Authorized and Revised Versions.

Except where the context requires a different rendering, παῖς is usually translated ‘servant’ in both versions, and Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 often points out occurrences of δοῦλος by putting ‘or bond-servant’ in the margin.

In John 4:51 both versions have ‘son’ (= παῖς) where Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 had far better have put ‘boy’ as in the above instance, keeping ‘son’ strictly for υἱός.

George Farmer.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Boy'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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