Theological Glossary

One of the challenges of any discipline is the language and terminology that goes with it. As a theological student this glossary is designed to help you understand important definitions and terminology that you will come across in your study.
Lecturers contribute to this glossary but as a student there is also the opportunity for you to make your own glossary entries. If you think you can help define a term then please contribute your definition.
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Necessarily or demonstrably true; incontrovertible.
Houghton Mifflin, 2000
(NB the use in biblical studies does not follow the Greek meaning of the word, since the truth of "apodictic commands" in the Bible are is often not able to be demonstrated, it focuses on their "incontrovertible" nature.)



A literary corpus, e.g. the Shakespearean canon means all the works attributed to W. Shakespeare.

In the more restricted theological sense, a canon is a list of works which are authoritative for a religious community, thus Jews, Catholics and Protestants each have their biblical canon - for Jews the Hebrew Bible, for Protestants - OT and NT, and for Catholics - OT, Deuterocanonical texts (cf. Apocrypha) and NT.

For the OT the situation is even more complicated. Two different versions of the canon have been handed down to us. The MT preserved one scheme for ordering the works, the LXX another. Christian Bibles (of whatever tradition) have usually followed the Greek ordering.

From: Tim Bulkeley, Amos: Hypertext Bible Commentary, Auckland: Hypertext Bible, 2005, "canon".


Chiasm (the adjective is "chiastic") is the arrangement of elements (e.g. of a text) in the form of mirror-like reflection: ABba or abcd*DCBA. Since we became aware of how much biblical authors like to arrange texts in patterns we have discovered many examples of chiasm. These are both large scale (where the echoed element is a phrase, sentence or idea), and small scale (where it is words or sounds that are echoed in the Hebrew text). E.g. Am 5:4-6a:

For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel:

"Seek me and live; a
but do not seek Bethel, b
and do not enter into Gilgal c
or cross over to Beer-sheba; *
Gilgal will surely go into exile, C
and Bethel shall come to nought." B
Seek the LORD and live, A
lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph,
and it devour, with none to quench it for Bethel.



phrase(s) indicating the end of the story, often bringing things up to date.

See: Tim Bulkeley "Introduction to narrative", 2003


demythologize or demythologise

1. To rid of mythological elements in order to discover the underlying meaning: demythologize biblical legends.
2. To remove the mysterious or mythical aspects from: "providing an antiheroic age with heroes suitably demythologized, yet also grand" John Simon.
Houghton Mifflin, 2000



A class or group.

Texts like other phenomena can be grouped in classes that have similar characteristics.

Different letters show similarities, as do different sermons, despite their various writers and speakers. Similarities of form within members of a genre is a feature of culture.



(in Greek: ἱεραρχία hierarchia, it is derived from ἱερός -hieros, sacred, and ἄρχω -arkho, rule) is a system of ranking and organizing things or people, where each element of the system (except for the top element) is subordinate to an other element.



The act of placing side by side, especially for comparison or contrast. (Seems to be used primarly when talking about literary form?)



a word that is repeated and is used in ways that carry or emphasise what a text (or passage) is "about".


lex talionis

is the belief that the purpose of the law is to provide retaliation for an offended party. This early belief is reflected in the code of Hammurabi and in the laws of the Old Testament.

From: Wikipedia [downloaded 17/02/2005].

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