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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Barbarian

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(βάρβαρος ), a term used in the New Testament, as in classical writers, to denote other nations of the earth in distinction from the Greeks (Serv. ad Virg. A En. 2:504). "I am debtor both to the Greeks and Barbarians" (Romans 1:14). (Comp. Plato, Polit. p. 260; Erat. p. 383; Theaet. p. 175; Pliny, 29:7; Aristot. De Caelo, 1:3; Polyb. v. 33, 5.) In Colossians 3:11, Greek nor Jew Barbarian, Scythian" βαρος seems to refer to those nations of the Roman empire who did not speak Greek, and Σκύθης to nations not under the Roman dominion. In 1 Corinthians 14:11, the term is applied to a difference of language: "If I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me." Thus Ovid, "Barbarus hic ego sum, quia non intelligor ulli" (Trist. v. 10, 37). In Acts 28, the inhabitants of Malta are called βάρβαροι, because they were originally a Carthaginian colony, and chiefly spoke the Punic language. In the Sept. βάρβαρος is used for the Hebrew לָעִז, laaz', "a people of strange language" (Psalms 114:1); Chaldee ברבראי . In the rabbinical writers the same Hebrews word is applied to foreigners in distinction from the Jews; and in the Jerusalem Talmud it is explained as meaning the Greek language; Rabbi Solomon remarks that whatever is not in the holy tongue is called by this term (Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. s.v.). According to Herodotus, the Egyptians called all men barbarians who did not speak the same language as themselves (ii. 158). Clement of Alexandria uses it respecting the Egyptians and other nations, even when speaking of their progress in civilization, as in his Strom. 1, ch. 16, § 74: "Barbarians have been inventors not only of philosophy, but likewise of almost every art. The Egyptians, and, in like manner, the Chaldaeans, first introduced among men the knowledge of astrology." In a singular passage of Justin Martyr's first Apology the term is applied to Abraham and other distinguished Hebrews: "We have learned and have before explained that Christ is the first- begotten of God, being the Word (or reason, λόγον ὄντα ) of which the whole human race partake. And they who live agreeably to the Word (or reason, οἱ μετὰ λόγου βιώσαντες ) are Christians, even though esteemed atheists: such among the Greeks were Socrates; Heraclitus, and the like; and among the barbarians ( among other nations,' Chevallier's Trans.), ἐν βαρβάροις, Abraham, Ananias, Azarias, Misael, and Elias, and many others," Apol. 1:46. Strabo (14. 2) suggests that the word bar-bar-os was originally an imitative sound, designed to express a harsh, dissonant language, or sometimes the indistinct articulation of the Greek by foreigners, and instances the Carians, who, on the latter account, he conjectures, were termed by Homer βαρβαρόφωνοι (Iliad, 2:867), although it is doubtful whether in the same sense (Thucyd. 1:3).

The word appears to have acquired a reproachful sense during the wars with the Persians; their country was called βάρβαρος (γ Á ) (Demosth. Philippians 3). In 1 Corinthians 5:13, 1 Timothy 3:7, we have "those outside" (οἱ ἔξω ), and Matthew 6:32, "the nations" (τὰ ἔθνη ), used Hebraistically for "the Gentiles" (גּוֹיַם, אַיַּים, in very much the same sort of sense as that of βάρβαροι ), to distinguish all other nations from the Jews; and in the Talmudists we find Palestine opposed to "the lands" (אֲרָצוֹת ), just as Greece was to Barbaria or βάρβαρος (comp. Cic. Fin. 2:15; Lightfoot, Centuria Chorogr. ad init.). And yet so completely was the term βάρβαρος accepted, that even Josephus (Ant. 11:7, 1; 14:10, 1; 26:6, 8; War, introd.; Apion, 1:11 and 22) and Philo (Opp. 1:29) scruple as little to reckon the Jews among them as the early Romans did to ap. ply the term to themselves ("Demophilus scripsit, Marcus vertit barbare," Plaut. Asin. prol. 10). Very naturally, the word, after a time, began to involve notions of cruelty and contempt (θηρὸς βαρβάρου, 2 Maccabees 4:25; 2 Maccabees 15:2, etc.), and then the Romans excepted themselves from the scope of its meaning (Cic. De Rep. 1:37, § 68). Afterward only the savage nations were called barbarians, though the Greek Constantinopolitans called the Romans ""barbarians" to the very last (Gibbon, 51; 6:351, ed. Smith). See Iken, De Scythis et Barbaris, in the Biblioth. Brem. 1, v. 767 sq.; Kype, Observ. 2:152; Schleusner, Thes. Phil. 1:50: Dougtei Analect. 2:100 sq, Rauth, Ueb. Sinn u. Gebrauch des Wortes Barbar (Nurnb. 1814). (See HELLENIST).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Barbarian'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/b/barbarian.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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