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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Doctor (2)

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DOCTOR.—The English versions have been very inconsistent in the translation of διδάσκαλος, νομοδιδάσκαλος, ῥαββεί, νομικός. They have generally followed Wyclif, who used maister for διδάσκαλος, and doctour only once (Luke 2:46). In the American Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 ‘master’ and ‘doctor’ disappear as translation of διδάσκαλος, and ‘teacher’ is uniformly used. The Authorized Version has ‘teacher’ only once in the Gospels (John 3:2) out of a very large number of instances of διδάσκαλος. The English Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 advances to only four uses of ‘teacher’ (Matthew 23:6, Luke 2:46, John 3:2; John 3:10). νομοδιδάσκαλος occurs only three times in the NT (Luke 5:17, Acts 5:34, 1 Timothy 1:7). In the last example Authorized Version has ‘teacher’ and in the other two ‘doctor of the law.’ Of course, ‘doctor’ is simply Latin for ‘teacher,’ but the American Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 would have done better to adopt ‘teacher of the law’ for νομοδιδάσκαλος also (Luke 6:17, Acts 5:34).

The chief English Versions translate the word διδάσκαλος in Luke 2:46 as follows: Wyclif, doctours; Tindale, doctours; Cranmer, doctours; Geneva, doctours; Rheims, doctors; Authorized Version, doctors; Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885, doctors; Noyes, teachers; Bible Union Revision, teachers; American Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885, teachers; Twentieth Century NT, Teachers. νομοδιδάσκαλος in Luke 5:17 and Acts 5:34 is translated doctour of the lawe by Wyclif, who is followed with variations in spelling by Tindale. Geneva, Rheims, Authorized Version and Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885, American Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885. The American Bible Union Revision has teacher of the law in Luke 5:17 and Acts 5:34 also. Twentieth Century NT has Teacher of the Law.

It would seem that νομοδιδάσκαλος should he translated ‘teacher of the law,’ and διδάσκαλος ‘teacher’ always. The Old English word ‘doctor’ now often signifies a title. Pope’s phrase, ‘when doctors disagree,’ referred to teachers, νομικός used once in Mt. (Matthew 22:35) and eight times in Lk., and is practically equivalent to νομοδιδάσκαλος. See Rabbi, Master, Teacher, Lawyer.

A. T. Robertson.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Doctor (2)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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