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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Ear (2)

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EAR.—Of the Greek words translated ‘ear’ in Authorized and Revised Versions, two (ὠτάριον, ὠτίον) refer exclusively to the bodily organ, and occur only in connexion with the case of Malchus (Mark 14:47, John 18:10; John 18:26, Matthew 26:51, Luke 22:51). In Matthew 28:14 the rendering is simply a paraphrase. In Mark 7:35 (ἀκοαί) ‘his hearing’ would be more exact. In all other instances the word οὗς occurs, and is used: (1) literally, to denote ‘the ear’ (Matthew 10:27, Mark 7:33; Mark 8:18, Luke 1:44; Luke 12:3; Luke 22:50), or (by transference) ‘the range of hearing’ (Luke 4:21); but more frequently (2) figuratively, to denote a spiritual faculty symbolized by the natural ear (Matthew 11:15; Matthew 13:9; Matthew 13:15 (bis), Matthew 13:16; Matthew 13:43, Mark 4:9; Mark 4:23, Luke 8:8; Luke 9:44; Luke 14:35). The definitive passages for this use are Matthew 13:3-23, Mark 4:2-20, Luke 8:5-15, where it forms the underlying subject of Christ’s first parable, ‘the Sower,’ a parable concluded in each account by the phrase, ‘He that hath ears (to hear) let him hear.’ Indeed, the general principle of speaking in parables is in these passages connected with ‘ears dull of hearing’ (Matthew 13:13-15). Christ is speaking in reference to ‘mysteries’ (Matthew 13:11, Mark 4:11, Luke 8:10), that is, Divine truths not necessarily puzzling in themselves, but undiscoverable by man apart from a revelation of them (see Moule on Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 3:3-6, cf. also 1 Corinthians 2:7-10). When these have been revealed to him, man has the power to recognize their truth, fitness, and necessity (see Westcott on Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 7:26), in proportion as he is determined to do the Divine will (John 7:17; John 8:43-47). This faculty of recognizing the voice of truth and (as it were) vibrating to its utterance is fitly referred to by Christ as a spiritual ‘ear.’

Literature.—Grimm-Thayer, s.v. οὖς; Expositor, i. ii. 472 ff.

F. S. Ranken.

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

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