ע
ABARIM
Publications
Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The New Testament Greek word: μανθανω

Source: http://www.abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/m/m-a-n-th-a-n-om.html

μανθανω

Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary

μανθανω

The verb μανθανω (manthano) means to learn, and stems from the same ancient proto-Indi-European root that gave us words like "mentor" and "mind" and even "meditate" and "medicine". It's naturally juxtaposed with the verb διδασκω (didasko), meaning to teach (Matthew 10:24).

Our verb μανθανω (manthano) means to learn in the sense of achieving understanding from a lesson taught — rather than studying that lesson in the hope that you'll get it in the end. An important derivation of this verb (which isn't used in the New Testament) is the noun μαθημα (mathema), meaning a lesson, from whence comes our modern word "mathematics". Another important derivation, which does occur lavishly in the New Testament, is the noun μαθητης (mathetes), meaning learner. It's often translated with the familiar word "disciple".

Our verb is used a mere 25 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, most strikingly in Jesus command to take up his yoke and "learn" from him (Matthew 11:29) and his observation that everybody who has learned from the Father comes to Jesus (John 6:45).

That our verb means more than just picking up information but rather an active studying of certain matters is demonstrated by the question "How does this man know literature while he has never "studied"?" (John 7:15). And that it describes the arrival at certainty rather than the journey to it is shown by Claudius Lysias, who had "learned" that Paul was a Roman citizen (Acts 23:27). Still, it's perfectly possible to "learn" bits and pieces but never truly arrive at the whole truth (2 Timothy 3:7). Since Christ is that whole truth, Christ is not just the teacher who dispenses information, but the very material that needs to be studied (Ephesians 4:20). Truth, in turn, though always complete, can be small or large without ever changing essence (Hebrews 5:8).

From this verb derive:

  • Together with the preposition α (a), meaning without: the adjective αμαθης (amathes), meaning unlearned or unschooled (2 Peter 3:16 only).
  • Together with the prefix κατα (kata), meaning down from or down upon: the verb καταμανθανω (katamanthano), meaning to thoroughly examine in order to learn how it works (Matthew 6:28 only).
  • The noun μαθητης (mathetes), meaning learner or student. This word is often translated with "disciple", which is somewhat unfortunate since that word doesn't really mean anything to modern ears (it's Latin for apprentice, and related to the self-explanatory words disco and pupilla, and hence disciplina). In folklore the twelve students of Christ are often depicted as rather oafish nitwits but that's not fair. Folklore also depicts the study of Christ as a religion, and that is even more off. Christ, per axiomatic definition, is the image of the Creator and the origin and sustainer of the whole of creation (Hebrews 1:2-3) and is therefore in scope at the very least equal to the whole of creation (Romans 11:36). Being a student of Christ has nothing to do with being religious or to adhering to some doctrine; being a student of Christ means to study everything about everything. In Christ, after all, are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; that is anything that can be known about anything (Colossians 2:2-3). Our noun μαθητης (mathetes) is used 268 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it in turn derive:
    • The verb μαθητευω (matheteuo), meaning to be a learner or pupil or to make somebody a student. This verb differs from the parent verb in that it describes the dedication of a student rather than the studying itself. This verb occurs 4 times, see full concordance, most spectacularly in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19). Just before his ascension, Jesus charged his students not to teach individual people some new doctrine but rather to enthuse the nations into becoming students of everything. Studying everything is obviously not an individual enterprise but a collective one, and turning human collectives into students of everything has nothing to do with telling them all the answers, but with convincing them to invest themselves in the great human journey of discovery.
    • Together with the preposition συν (sun), meaning together or with: the noun συμμαθητης (summathetes), meaning fellow-student (John 11:16 only)
  • The feminine noun μαθητρια (mathetria), meaning female student. The New Testament mentions only one female student by name, namely Tabitha or Dorcas (Acts 9:36 only).