Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The New Testament Greek word: φαω

Source: http://www.abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/ph/ph-a-om.html

Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary


The amazing verb φαω (phao) means to emit. By the time Greek's classical era commenced this verb had already become obsolete and replaced by two derived sub-verbs, namely φαινω (phaino), meaning to emit light (that is: φως, phos), and φονεω (phoneo), to emit sound (that is: φονη, phone). The verb φαω (phao) isn't used in the New Testament but it spawned an amazing array of extant derivatives, many of which live on as celebrated words in the English language — words like fantasy, photo, phosphor, phone and even prophet. All these have to do with the two different kinds of emitting that exist in the universe:

A lampstand of pure gold

In nature there are two kinds of signals. Before we can have a look at what these are you need to know that all matter consists of molecules and molecules are strings of atoms. These strings of atoms are held together by electromagnetic force-fields, and electromagnetism is carried by photons. When Jesus said "I am the light" (John 8:12) and Paul explained that "in Him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:17) neither was being poetic.

Atoms themselves consist of a nucleus and a body comprised of electrons. An atom's body and nucleus are also kept together by an electromagnetic force-field. Energy that sits between atoms and that forms molecules is easy to release. It's like breaking a cookie. Releasing energy that keeps a molecule together is achieved by a chemical conversion between two materials (say: paper that turns to ash, wood that turns to coal or gasoline that turns to soot). This energy-release by means of chemical conversion also sits at the heart of our digestion. The energy that makes living thing function comes from a process that is precisely like fire. The ancients realized this and studied it at length (Exodus 3:2).

Energy can also be stored in individual atoms and small molecules. Energy like that is what makes atoms and small molecules fly through space and what gives them their heat (hence the term thermo-dynamics; heat and motion are the same thing). Extracting energy from excited atoms is no big deal. It's what our fridges and air conditioners are based on. Unlike chemical conversion, this kind of extraction leaves the atom or small molecule in tact; it just slows them down a bit.

A third way to extract energy from atoms is to tap into the force-field that keeps the actual atom in one piece; the energy that keeps the atomic nucleus tied to the electrons that zip around it. Nature does this all the time, namely in the core of stars (such as our sun). When a cloud of atoms contracts because of their joint gravity, the atoms get compressed and will release their heat energy like the juice squeezed out of an orange. But when all the heat-juice is out and the pressure continues to build, the atoms can actually merge at the core and form bigger atoms. Four hydrogen atoms, for instance, consist of four nuclei, four electrons and four force-fields that keep the four atoms together. When these four merge, two electrons are mushed together with two nuclei and form two neutrons. The other two nuclei are protons. Two neutrons and two protons together form the nucleus of a helium atom, which has two electrons and two force-fields as its body. The other two force-fields are released and that's the light you see coming out of the sun.

A star converts its material into heavier elements up to iron. Then when the star runs out of lighter elements, it casts off its outer layer and while doing so creates elements heavier than iron (this is called super nova). It then contracts into a majestic singularity in which no atomic structure remains and all energy becomes concentrated in one point. This is called a black hole, and the energy that is stored in black holes is slowly given back to the universe by means of Hawking Radiation and gravitational waves. The greater the mass of a black hole, the less it radiates, but eventually all black holes dissipate.

The song of the vineyard on a fertile hill

The exact same process, but on a different scale of complexity, occurs in flowering plants such as grapevines. The vine — the inside of the vine — is spacetime; its flowers are the stars. The super nova event coincides with the flower dropping its petals. And the black hole is the formation of a grape. The singularity is the seed, because within a black hole time freezes, which means that the whole of the expanding universe is projected upon the singularity, just like the whole of the vine is projected upon the seed.

The same thing also happens in the mental sphere, which itself commences where two or more living cells form one organism. The mental equivalent of nuclear fusion is a creature's ability to derive general truths from similar events. All inorganic learning in based on the mere accumulation of information, but organic learning is based on nuclear fusion. When the organism's mind is sufficiently "massive," that is to say: when it has become aware of enough different things, and its "bubble of awareness" has become great enough, the mind forms a black hole in which all separate data and all derived generalities contract into a singular world view upon which the entire external realm of existence is projected.

The first thing the black hole will notice is that there are other black holes around it, which means that it achieves "theory of mind"; its world view will incorporate the acknowledgement of the existence of others with other world views. Human children achieve theory of mind at around 3 years of age, but in recent years, animals like dolphins and elephants were found to have theory of mind too, so humans are not the only ones. Dolphins even have nominal reasoning, which means that they understand the concept of names and nouns (dolphins have their own "whistle name" with which they call each other). That is really incredible, because nouns are needed for abstract and conceptual thinking (Genesis 2:19-20). It strongly suggests that dolphins think and have a mental image of the world that is at least as advanced as that of a human child.

Theology has nothing to do with religion but marks the level at which one unified world view begins to assess the nature of the oneness of all things, the origin of it and the reason for it (Genesis 4:26; Deuteronomy 6:4-5, John 10:30, 14:20). Since the ancients maintained that children have theology (Matthew 18:10), the chances are excellent that dolphins have theology too (Romans 8:22, Colossians 1:23, 1 Peter 3:19).

The Bible predicts a fourth realm, namely that of human society, in which the same process will again create a nucleus in which the whole of mental-kind is represented. Society, of course, is based on the fusion of human minds into the mental molecules we call companies and schools of thought, but the Bible predicts that society itself will go black hole and develop a theory of mind.

Two witnesses; two lampstands

The two sorts of signals that are possible in the universe and any subsequent realm such as life, mind and society, are: (1) information stored in electromagnetism and (2) information stored in gravity. The mental equivalent of the first is called γινωσκω (ginosko), meaning knowledge, and the mental equivalent of the second is called αγαπη (agape), commonly translated with love — not the mushy romantic feeling but the general tendency of humans to look each other up and care for neighbors and such. Both electromagnetism and knowledge are of course major deals in both the material world and human economy, but in the material world, gravity is the force that ultimately governs the universe and which overcomes all other forces within black holes. In the mental world, agape likewise transcends all knowledge (1 Corinthians 13:13, Ephesians 3:19).

Electromagnetism was isolated in the 18th century and led to the modern power grid and radio, TV and phone signals. Also microwaves, x-rays, ultraviolet and infrared are part of the electromagnetic spectrum. So far humanity hasn't been able to derive technology from gravity, and if it hadn't been for the Bible, modern humanity would not have known about the existence of gravitational waves, and gravity's information-carrying properties, until the beginning of the 20th century.

Electromagnetism either excites things individually or keeps things together in a dynamic way. Gravitation brings things together in a static way, and convinces things to release their individual energy and snuggly huddle together. The individual gravities of many separate atomic nuclei can add up to enormous joint gravity fields. The universe works in such as way that it is impossible to tell the difference between (1) sitting motionless within a gravity field whilst not absorbing energy carried by electromagnetism, and (2) absorbing energy carried by electromagnetism whilst not sitting motionless in a gravity field. There's also no difference between (1) being in open space and accelerating due to the absorption of energy conveyed by electromagnetism, and (2) falling toward the massive center of a gravitational field without absorbing electromagnetic energy. In other words: mass is frozen light, and gravity is frozen motion.

A gravity field is what creates space. Stars don't just hang in space, they create space. Humans don't sit in economy, they create economy. No stars, no space, no humans, no economy. It's all the same thing.

A star is the shiny heart of a much larger spacetime bubble and you can't have one without the other. Spacetime is the accumulation of many little spacetime bubbles that are created by individual units of energy. And in a strange and tricky way, these energetic units may congregate into stars while their spacetime bubbles remain to collectively create the space these stars form around them. It's usually popularly stated that mass "curves" spacetime, but a better image would be that of a mountain, whose snowy top is the star and whose slopes are formed by the created space.

A star is like an arena with a huge parking lot around it. Long before the show starts, people drive up, park their car on the lot and go into the arena to wait for curtain. When the arena is full, and the parking lot is filled with empty cars that are parked bumper to bumper, the show starts. The arena begins to bounce and the vibrations are passed on through its walls to the bumpers of the closest cars, which pass the vibrations on to the next and so on.

Gravitational waves convey energy away from the source. They travel through space the same way in which sound travels through the air: by compressing and expanding the very fabric of it, and by passing the energy from static bubble to static bubble.

The host of heaven

Anything that rotates in an asymmetric way (anything from yo-yos to stars and black holes that interacts somehow with something else massive) emits gravitational waves. Many sources together create a standing wave pattern that's called a Chladni pattern. That means that the fabric of space looks like the surface of a glass of water that you place on your speaker box whilst playing heavy metal. It carries very precise information about the energy distribution of the universe, and if you could see this pattern, you would see a picture of space just like the night sky, but focused on the accumulations of mass rather than on the light sources. You would see a starry sky of black holes rather than of shiny stars.

To detect these waves you need equipment that differs from a camera the way ears differ from eyes. But eyes and ears are organs that specialize in activities that every atom knows how to do: namely absorb energy. We know very well that when an atom absorbs light, it will excite and bounce around. But what gravity waves do to an atom is less well known. Here at Abarim Publications we guess that the Chladni pattern of space forms a kind of ground zero for atoms, and that when atoms radiate their electromagnetic excitement, they will settle into the "pattern of the mountain" (Exodus 25:40, Hebrews 8:5). Atoms settling into the pattern of the universe, we guess, is what caused DNA to form (Exodus 24:12).

As we will discuss below, "time" is a tricky thing, which really only exists in the material universe. In the material universe, a black hole follows a star sequentially but in the mind these two chapters are not sequential but exist side by side, like two workshops in the same laboratory. The star-part of the mind deals with observation, reason and knowledge, and the extraction of the propellant energy that makes the creature move autonomously. The black hole part deals with the awareness and interaction with others. The minds of autistic people comprise a vastly greater "mass of observation" than those of neurotypicals, which is why they are always overwhelmed. Their black hole phase radiates far less electromagnetic energy than smaller, neurotypical minds, but if they can be made to interact, their gravitational release can be enormous (just watch Rainman).

The ancient verb φαω (phao) is on a par with the Hebrew verb הלל (halal) — from which we get the familiar festive term Hallelujah, meaning "shine with Yah!" The verb φαινω (phaino) is on a par with the Hebrew verb נהר (nahar), which means both to flow and to shine.

As we discuss more elaborately in our article of this verb נהר (nahar), the ancients had a surprisingly solid grasp of what we now call relativity, and realized that light behaves in many ways like water. The ancients knew that light, like water, comes in drops but also behaves as waves. It is substantial, comes from a source and obeys gravity. Objects absorb light and emanate it like sponges do water. But the ancients took it quite a bit further, and applied their feel for relativity also to psychology. Their brilliant conclusion, namely that knowledge behaves like light, which behaves like water (seeing equals absorbing light equals knowing), was not paralleled until in the early 20th century Einstein came up with Relativity Theory, and Shannon and company came up with Information Theory and information-theoretic entropy.

Because light was so very poorly understood by Europeans of the middle ages, they connected all sorts of magical nonsense to it, which in turn caused the westernized gospel to be permeated with that same degree of nonsense. Nobody would argue that interpreters of the Bible need to have a working knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, but what is less commonly stressed is that interpreters, and particularly preachers of the gospel, absolutely require a rudimentary understanding of physics and cosmology. Up until recently, the formal church benefitted greatly from congregants not knowing the Bible. But those times are over and church leaders need to come to terms with the fact that God's attributes, power and nature are on obviously display in what has been made (Romans 1:20). The rudiments of the gospel can not be understood independently from the rudiments of natural science (Revelation 11:3-13), and trying to do so will surely lead to the broad elaborations of wholly erroneous pagan models (see the noun φαντασμα, phantasma, below).

E = mc2

Today we know that all matter is solidified energy, like ice is solidified water, and that visible light is but a small slice of the much broader spectrum of electromagnetic radiation. Light-particles, called photons, convey the electromagnetic force just like soldiers convey the force of a nation: the soldier isn't merely a transporter of the force, he is the force. Just like a single soldier is the smallest unit in which the national force can be conveyed, so is a single photon the smallest unit of the electromagnetic force.

Light travels at 300,000,000 meters per second, but the universe isn't just space; it's spacetime. Since Einstein, science knows that at lightspeed time stops and distance becomes zero. That means that at lightspeed there are neither seconds nor meters and lightspeed is rather the edge of what you can pull off in spacetime. Lightspeed is the limit. It's both part of spacetime and part of whatever it is that exists beside spacetime. Critics may offer that nothing exists outside spacetime, but that assumption is the result of sloppy definitions and a failing imagination. In order to outrun a photon, one would have to go faster than a photon and that is not possible inside spacetime. That means that nothing inside spacetime will ever wait for a photon, because the warning that one is coming will always travel as fast as or slower than the photon. That means that when a scientist in a lab pushes a button and some other scientists sits waiting by a target, these two scientists are engaged in an exercise that exceeds the speed of light and is thus outside spacetime. Said simpler: the human mind and its social engagements are in this world but not of this world; they are rooted in spacetime but are not part of spacetime — like a flower whose roots are in the earth but itself sticks out and sways in the breeze.

Electromagnetism is one of four natural forces, and one of two large-scale ones. The other large-scale natural force is gravity, and the other two natural forces operate at the atomic nuclear scale, which is why non-Bible readers didn't know about them until the 1930s. These symmetries suggest that besides the abilities to extract information from light and sound, humans could be expected to have a measurable internal mental economy which is carried by eight separate "inner voices" that help us form opinions and three that break unstable beliefs apart (corresponding to the strong and weak nuclear forces of the material world).

Our noun φως (phos), meaning light, occurs in many hugely complex Biblical statements, but possibly most spectacularly in the account of the transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17:2). The nature of the Bible is commonly not very well understood, but the literary character of Jesus of Nazareth embodies natural law (John 1:14, Colossians 1:16-17) — or rather: mankind's slowly waxing awareness of the laws that God gave the universe to operate by (Psalm 12:6, Luke 2:52). Stories about Jesus are not about a local folk hero and certainly not about breaking natural law, but are rather presentations of what the ancients had found was possible to do with natural law, when natural law was yielded to and served with comprehension.

To see the light

We possibly don't emphasize it enough on this website, but the difference between the secular scientific and the Biblical model of reality is not the belief in God but in the belief of the personhood of God. Science may hold that the laws of nature are a bunch of scattered rules that somehow unite in the Grand Unified Theory, but the Bible submits that the Grand Unified Theory would ultimately describe a being whose existential range spans between conditions of hyper-simplicity and hyper-complexity, simpler than the simplest atomic particle and more complicated than the output of all humanity's celebrated brains combined.

The universe did not start fifteen billion years ago because time is a function of the universe, and not the other way around. Time is a function of data-retention, which requires particle stability and matter-radiation decoupling. That means that time may have started fifteen billion years ago, but it started as a result of a condition in the universe, which was already up and running on a much more primitive sort of continuum and along a much more fundamental axis of progression. The universe the way we know it is like Windows that in turn runs on the much more basic DOS. Or it's like our English language that in turn runs on syntax. The end of time, likewise, marks an event within the universe, and the universe continues on that more basic continuum far beyond time's silly asymptote.

The universe was neither created at a point in the past nor at a point in the future, but time was created at a point in the universe and the universe begins outside time — that is: both before and after, prior to and beyond time. The temporal world as we know it as much evolves away from the singularity as toward wherever it's going (chaos theory calls this an attractor), and the Creator is as much a counterpart of the beginning as the end and the bit in the middle.

The Creator is not only shoving the universe forth from one end, He's also pulling it forth from the other. That means that He not only embodies the condition of subzero entropy prior to the Big Bang, but also the condition of transfinite entropy the Bible calls the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2). And the bit in between He governs by means of the laws of nature (Isaiah 9:6), and the human comprehension of that is embodied by Jesus of Nazareth. So yes, if you want to imagine the Creator, Maintainer and Destiny of the universe, a blackboard with equations won't do. You can rightly imagine Him as a man who walks among us; a human man with a personality and with feelings just like yours. You can address the Creator like you would a friend, and talk with Him. That's not silly or disrespectful but the way He Himself rigged the universe (Exodus 33:11, John 15:15).

The transformation

During the transfiguration on the mountain, Jesus' body emitted so much energy that his face and clothes radiated on the visible electromagnetic spectrum — something similar had happened to Moses (Exodus 34:29-30). The whole scene is vastly complex and also includes appearances of former human luminaries and even a non-electromagnetic emission from God (Matthew 17:5), but it does seem to suggest a possible point of intersection between what human eyes can detect and human skin can radiate. Emitting electromagnetic radiation via one's skin, namely, is no big deal; we do it all the time because we're warm and waft electromagnetic energy in the form of infrared radiation. And since all thermo-radiation occurs on a bell-curve, all humans emit a tiny smidge of visible light too. But our human eyes can't see infrared or the minute amounts of visible light all humans emit.

We humans can't see infrared but creatures like snakes can. To snakes, all warm blooded animals are cherry-red glowing blurs of light. Commentators often assume that on the mountain Jesus started doing something, but it may very well be that Jesus was the same all along and that the disciples started doing something, namely beginning to see what Jesus really was. It's a little bit like the way humanity has looked at the moon. By the time very early humans began to contemplate the moon, it appeared to change from day to day. Then it was understood that although the moon's image differed per day, the phases repeated, and the moon really was quite constant and predictable. Later still it was discovered that the moon wasn't really doing anything to change its face, and that the change in its appearance resulted from changes in the viewer's perspective. Then Neil Armstrong made his small step for man and giant leap for mankind, and came closer to the moon than any man before him. But it was still the same moon.

In order to see thermo-radiation with one's unaided and unaltered human eye, the body that radiates it has to be so hot that it would normally have disintegrated Jesus' organic tissues and clothing. But yet, the transfiguration may not qualify as normal, and surviving a fire with one's clothes is tact is also not without Biblical precedent because it happened to the three friends of Daniel (Daniel 3:25).

Here at Abarim Publications we guess that the events described by Daniel primarily reflect a battle of wits, similar to Exodus 7:12, but we wouldn't be at all surprised if the human mind will one day be found capable of such advanced mind-body interventions that it physically protects the body. It is, after all, by no means certain whether the body generates the mind or the mind the body — because what's ultimately keeping organic bodies from disintegrating like any inanimate structures? Thanks to René Descartes (who is with some irony also known as the Father of Modern Western Philosophy) most of modern humanity believes the wildly dim-witted idea of mind-body dualism: the idea that the body and mind are two separate and independent things. But in reality, the mind is a function of the body as much as the body is a function of the mind. As any school child knows, in a bear-body houses a bear-mind, and in a squirrel-body sits a squirrel-mind. Man's upright posture and peculiar hair pattern demonstrates the peculiarities of man's mind, and whatever happens to the mind happens to the body and whatever happens to the body happens to the mind. People who believe that mind and body are separated should be administered a huge kick in the arse and then asked if they would like to reconsider their position.

Casting cares upon the carer

The light that was energetic enough to be seen by human eyes and that was physically emitted by Moses and Jesus was surely generated by an act of the mind, and most likely as a byproduct of some kind of mental process. It was probably not a mere publicity stunt, and probably also not the high end of a thermo-radiation bell curve (their body temperature probably didn't rise north of 500 degrees centigrade, to reach the Draper Point), because that would have burned not only themselves but everything less fire-proof around them (see Daniel 3:22).

Another way for nature to create light that's visible to human eyes is to leave out the red-hot end of the bell curve and specifically stick to the observable bit (like LED lights, that are also cold). Many organic creatures are capable of doing this (fireflies, jelly fish), and they do this by means of bioluminescence. Bioluminescence is a chemical conversion of energy just like digestion and fire, but it requires special pigment and a vast cellular machinery like photophores, and it's unlikely that the human body is equipped with such devices, even in a latent state (as molecular biologists would have found them by now).

Much more exciting than a chemical conversion of energy is energy release from the fusion of atomic nuclei. As we described above, nuclear fusion normally occurs in stars but a similar process allows a human mind to generalize observations. This very ability to associate observations and turn them into general truths is what organic learning is all about. When a star begins nuclear fusion, the first wave of energy that is released tries to travel the radius of the star to the surface, but gets absorbed along the way by the star's cooler regions. That means that the star begins to actually shine long after the process of fusion has begun.

It's not clear what the physical aspect of mental fusion might be, but the effect of nuclear fusion has only been confirmed to happen in stars. However, certain tantalizing but controversial theories deal with a concept called "cold fusion" and study whether it might be possible that nuclear atoms may merge for reasons other than brute force. Some very serious people are doing some very serious work in this field (see for instance the NASA program that studies the LENR phenomenon) and although many labs report that under certain circumstances, at room temperature energy indeed appears out of nowhere (which means that it must come from fusion), it's been impossible for the best and brightest to explain why or how this might be happening. And until we know under which circumstances nature allows cold fusion, we can also not determine whether or not the human body is capable of releasing energy by means of cold fusion.

Here at Abarim Publications we guess that the ancients were far more up to snuff with cold fusion than we moderns (also see our article on the possible technological aspects of the Menorah). We are baffled by the transformation as much as anybody, but it seems to us to also discus Jesus' inherent ability to "cold fuse" human minds together. Many a world leader before and after Jesus tried to achieve similar effects, but Jesus knew how to do it without massive pressure and violence. Jesus embodied God's Law, which is natural law, and summarized the whole of the Law by stating: "in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you" (Matthew 7:12). Here at Abarim Publications we bet that's also the key to cold fusion.


The noun φως (phos) means light, or rather: information conveyed by light (Acts 16:29), and derives from the obsolete verb φαω (phao), meaning to emit. It's the visual counterpart of the noun φωνη (phone), meaning sound. The genitive form of φως (phos) is the familiar πωτος (photos), meaning "of light".

Our noun φως (phos) is used 70 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and although many translators and commentators will routinely play the metaphor card when dealing with texts involving this noun, it's pretty safe to interpret our word literally within the triple frame outlined above. From our noun in turn derive:

  • The verb φαινω (phaino) meaning to bring forth light. See below for a discussion of this word and its derivatives.
  • The noun φωστηρ (phoster), which describes that which radiates light and thus information. In the classics this word describes mostly stellar luminaries (and on occasion some king or other radiant). A true phoster radiates light not because it previously absorbed it but because of nuclear fusion due to gravity. The mental equivalent of gravity is αγαπη (agape), and sufficiently massive minds are able to associate and abstract, which causes them to move autonomously as if they are objects that are constantly absorbing electromagnetic energy. Mental fusion is the reason why humans were able to develop nouns and thus speech (see our article on ονομα, onoma, meaning name or noun), and later script (see γραφω, grapho, meaning to write), which allowed them to receive the Word of God first and Internet and blockchain later.
    The purpose of stars is to be signs on the earth (Genesis 1:14-19). God said that Abraham's offspring would be as stars (Genesis 15:5). The prophet Daniel noted that "those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever" (12:3), and the magi who found Christ in Bethlehem did so because they followed his star (Matthew 2:1). None of these descriptions incorporate metaphors. Our noun is used in Philippians 2:15 and Revelation 21:11 only.
  • Together with the verb φερω (phero), meaning to bring: the adjective φωσφορος (phosphorus), meaning light-bringing or information-bringing. This adjective occurs only once in the New Testament, namely in 2 Peter 1:19, but in the classics it was the name of Venus, or the morning star. In Latin this name became Lucifer, which means the same — and before you panic, see our article on that name.
    Darkness is not the opposite of light; it's the absence of light. And neither is inherently evil, because both are created willfully and purposefully by the Creator (Isaiah 45:7). It appears that evil thrives mostly in mental manifestations that have no relationship to anything in observable reality — beliefs that call entities into existence that God didn't make but superstitious humans, and which don't exist in God's universe but only in human heads (which in turn foul up God's universe).
  • The adjective φωτεινος (photeinos), meaning enlightened, endowed with light. As indicated above, this is not metaphorical but literal. This word is used 5 times; see full concordance.
  • The verb φοτιζω (photizo), meaning to enlighten; to endow with light. This verb appears to be stronger than the verb φαινω (phaino) in that φαινω (phaino) is mostly associated with light coming from lamps and thus light coming from a chemical conversion of external fuel, whereas φοτιζω (photizo) is mostly associated with stars and thus light coming from the nuclear fusion of constitutional material. Our verb φοτιζω (photizo) is used 11 times, see full concordance, and from it in turn derives:
    • The noun φωτισμος (photismos), meaning enlightenment or a being endowed with light (2 Corinthians 4:4 and 4:6 only).

As noted above, the verb φαινω (phaino) is one of five words that derive directly from the noun φως (phos), meaning light. It means to emit light (to shine) and it's one of two major verbs of information emission that derive from the über-rootverb φαω (phao), meaning to emit information. The other verb is φονεω (phoneo), which means to emit sound.

Unlike the equivalents in English, both Greek verbs emphasize the information that is transferred rather than the light or sound that carries the information. That means that there is much more overlap between the Greek verbs: something verbally revealed might be described by our verb φαινω (phaino), particularly when the transfer of information is much more important than the medium in which it is transferred, or when one's voice is an implied mere element of a much larger arsenal of conveyance (gestures, frowns, smells, and perhaps even intuition and beyond).

Our verb is used 31 times, see full concordance, but only half a dozen times in the active voice, "to shine" and that only in the Johannine texts (John 1:5, 5:35, 1 John 2:8, Revelation 1:16, 8:12, 21:23). The majority of uses of our verb are in the passive voice and describe the reception of light: "to be shone [upon]," that is to say: to be enlightened about (Romans 7:13), to be made the receiver of certain information (Matthew 6:5). The distinction between sending information and receiving it is clear in Greek but in English the distinction between active and passive voice can hardly be maintained. Hence things may "seem" to someone (Luke 24:11), or events may "be seen" (Matthew 9:33) but the emphasis is always on the comprehension of the thing seen (Mark 16:9) rather than a mere noticing of something physically popping up (Matthew 13:26). This usage is somewhat foreign to the English language but in German and Dutch it's quite common: the verbs Scheinen and schijnen, respectively, both mean to shine and to seem. The German word wahrscheinlich literally means truth-seeming and translates into English as "probably": something that seems as if it might be true.

When the context of our verb focuses on the receiver of the information, the implied focus shifts to the ability of the receiver to decode the information. The white light that comes from the sun consists of many different wavelengths, and the wavelength that an object rejects becomes its color. That means that when we shine light on an object, we can learn about the object's limitations by looking at the wavelengths it rejects. What happens to the wavelengths the object does not reject but absorbs depends on the object's nature. Inanimate objects turn absorbed light into heat and will immediately radiate it back out again, but now in the wavelength that corresponds to their own material. Light that is absorbed by plants is not turned to heat but is stored into chemical bonds — plants do the opposite of what a fire does. Light that is absorbed by the eyes of animals becomes knowledge of the animal's surroundings.

Humans may speak languages or similar symbolic systems that allow them to absorb and not reflect highly encrypted layers of light. But the more one is able to absorb the different "colors" of a burst of information that comes out of a source, the "blacker" one becomes (compare Genesis 1:2 to Song of Solomon 1:5 and Luke 1:35 and even Numbers 12:1) and the whiteness of leprosy serves in the Bible often as a metaphor for insensitivity or inability to absorb information.

As noted above, mankind's mastering of information technology allowed him first to invent the noun and then script and subsequent information technologies such as the printing press, the internet and most recently blockchain technology. The complexity level of the information we are able to process rises on a par with the complexity level of our information technology. Or in other words: when man learned to speak, God could speak to him (Genesis 15:1). When he learned to read and write, God could give man His written law (Exodus 24:12). When he had created academies and a learning culture, the Word could come into human flesh (John 1:14). Imagine in what form humanity may receive the Word tomorrow.

From this awesome verb derive:

  • Together with the preposition ανα (ana), meaning on, upon, and often indicating a repeating: the verb αναφαινω (anaphaino), meaning to suddenly or lastingly shine: to make known upon a period of [perceived] darkness, or to become finally known after a period of folks not receiving (Luke 19:11 and Acts 21:3 only).
  • Together with the particle of negation α (a), meaning without: the adjective αφανης (aphanes), meaning not-shining, extinguished; being not seen or known, unacknowledged (Hebrews 4:13 only). Since life is essentially the same thing as fire (namely an entity's appropriation of energy from the catalytic chemical conversion of fuel), in the classics this word was often used to describe the "nether world" or the abode of burned-out souls, but it could also denote something uncertain, obscure or doubtful. Curiously but rather striking, this word could also be combined with ουσια (ousia), meaning [one's] estate, to denote one's liquid assets (as opposed to one's real estate). From this adjective in turn derives:
    • The verb αφανιζω (aphanizo), meaning to be made to not shine: to eclipse or dull (Matthew 6:19), to obscure, to prevent from being [truly] known, for instance by hiding behind a fake gloom (Matthew 6:16). This verb is used 5 times, see full concordance, and from it comes:
      • The noun αφανισμος (aphanismos), meaning a not-shining, a not being known or knowable; extinction or oblivion (Hebrews 8:13 only).
  • Again together with the particle of negation α (a): the adjective αφαντος (aphantos), also meaning unseen or unacknowledged. The (very small) difference with the adjective αφανης (aphanes) is that this adjective describes the condition of being unseen rather than the quality. This word describes an unseen, hidden or secret thing rather than the invisibility of a thing that is unseen (Luke 24:31 only).
  • Together with the preposition επι (epi), meaning on or upon in a proximate sense (extremely close): the verb επιφαινω (epiphaino), meaning to shine closely in one's face, or to remain stationary and simply turning up the intensity of the signal: to blaze. This verb is the visual equivalent of shouting. In Acts 27:20 it's deployed to describe the crushing absence of sunlight: the not-blazing or very much not blazing of the sun. This is the only time this and the two following similar words don't directly apply to the Lord (which suggest that it somehow does). This verb is deployed 4 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it comes:
    • The noun επιφανεια (epiphaneia), which describes the experience of a very proximate or very intense light source: a blazing. Our derived English noun epiphany may imply a falling over and wild hysteria, but the Greek original merely emphasizes the intensity of a source of light and thus information. The information thus obtained could be expected to be rather shocking, unless of course one spent a lifetime easing toward this source of light. Our noun is used 6 times, see full concordance, invariably describing the coming of the Lord.
    • The adjective επιφανης (epiphanes), meaning blazing, or pertaining to receiving a very bright light or a lot of information (Acts 2:20 only).
  • Together with the noun συκον (sukon), meaning fig: the verb συκοφαντεω (sukophanteo), meaning to fig-shine or fig-tell (Luke 3:14 and 19:8 only). This curious verb stems from Athenian legislation that had made it illegal to export figs, even during times of plenty. Those who did it anyway could get told on, and subsequently prosecuted. In later time this verb took on the meaning of pestering or causing trouble for someone by accusing them of silly infractions. The corresponding noun, συκοφαντης (sukophantes), came to denote informers who told on their wealthier neighbors, or people who enjoyed pestering suspiciously rich people. Later still this trade had evolved in a wryly recognized guild of professional swindlers and blackmailers.
  • Together with the preposition υπερ (huper), meaning over or beyond: the adjective υπερηφανος (huperephanos), meaning over-shining or over-exposing. This word appears to describe existential exhibitionists who overrate the value of their reflections and insist on divulging more details than the audience requires to function effectively. It's what Paul warns against in Philippians 2:3. In Luke 1:51 this word describes people who augment their over-extended faculties of thought (perhaps with bravado, bluff and arrogance). In 1 Peter 5:5 it occurs juxtaposed with the adjective ταπεινος (tapeinos), which describes a social position of little leverage. This verb is used 5 times, see full concordance, and from it comes:
    • The noun υπερηφανια (huperephania), which describes the condition of over-shining: over-exposure, existential exhibitionism (Mark 7:22 only).
  • The adjective φανερος (phaneros), meaning shining or lit, or rather: of the manner of making known; not merely overt or apparent but actively broadcasting: conspicuous. This adjective is used 20 times, see full concordance, and from it derives:
    • The verb φανεροω (phanero), meaning to be lit or shiny, or rather: to make known, to be or make conspicuous. This verb is used 49 times, see full concordance, and from it in turn comes:
    • The adverb φανερως (phaneros), meaning lit, or in the manner of making known, conspicuously (Mark 1:45, John 7:10 and Acts 10:3 only).
  • The noun φανος (phanos), literally meaning a light, and apparently denoting a lantern of some sort. It's used only once, in John 18:3, where it occurs juxtaposed with the noun λαμπας (lampas; hence our English word lamp). The latter was the common word for whatever device illuminated a room or space, and could range from a small wicked wax-light or oil-lamp to a huge bristly bundle-torch. Our noun φανος (phanos), on the other hand, appears in the classics associated to crystal or glass materials, and that seems to imply that it denoted a specific type of lamp, namely one of which the flame burned behind glass. This was probably safer and also cleaner, and one might imagine that a light like that was the one favored by scribes and librarians. Our noun also served as an identical adjective which meant light, bright or clear. It not only referred to lamps but also to freshly washed garments and joyous dispositions.
    The difference between this noun and the more fundamental noun φωστηρ (phoster; see above) is that the latter produces light from inherently internal process (via nuclear fusion or associative reason) whereas the former produces light from an external fuel that had to be replenished.
  • The verb φανταζω (phantazo), meaning to deliberately make visible, to show or present (Hebrews 12:21 only). From this verb derive:
    • The noun φαντασια (phantasia), meaning a show or deliberate display (Acts 25:23 only).
    • The noun φαντασμα (phantasma), denoting something that has become visible, implying that it really shouldn't be: an apparition (Matthew 14:26 and Mark 6:49 only). These three words relate to our English words fantasy and to fantasize, but our English derivations are rather corruptions of the ancients' vastly superior understanding of the human mind. As we discuss in our article on the word αγγελος (aggelos), meaning angel, imagination allows a person to extrapolate a present situation into a future one, and that allows for anticipation and planning. But since a person has the choice to lie or misrepresent reality at any level, a person may also falsely imagine, and come up with imagery that does not and will not relate to reality.
      Seeing something that shouldn't be there according to the principles with which one navigates the world at large may indicate a malfunction of one's cognitive abilities, and that's of course a great cause for concern. One either has gone bonkers, or one doesn't understand reality and is hence a sitting duck for whatever it might be that's out there. Many cultures believed in ghosts and ethereal remnants of dead people, but most believed that the nether world was securely separated from the realm of the living, and none should cross over. It can of course not be precisely determined what consternation troubled the disciples when they saw Jesus walk on water, but it obviously had to do with a discrepancy between what was believed and what was observed (also see Luke 24:37).

The familiar noun φωνη (phone) means sound, or rather: information carried by sound, and derives from the obsolete verb φαω (phao), meaning to emit. It's the audible counterpart of the noun φως (phos), meaning light.

Since our noun φωνη (phone) emphasizes the information that is carried by an emitted sound rather than the sound itself, it largely coincides with our English word voice (John 10:5). It mostly denotes information carried by physical human voices, individual (Matthew 27:36) and collective (Matthew 2:18, Luke 19:37), but may also reflect general intent rather than specific vocalizing (Matthew 3:3, 12:19), or even demonstrate a lack thereof (Luke 4:33). Our noun may also refer to inanimate objects whose sounds convey information (1 Corinthians 14:7-10).

Most voices constitute information invested in mechanical ripples in the earth's atmosphere, but an exception is the voice of the Lord (Matthew 3:17, 17:5, John 5:25, 12:28, Acts 7:31, 10:13, Hebrews 3:7). Most commentators will attest that the "voice of the Lord" is a metaphor of some sort, but that's possibly because they've never heard it (John 5:37).

As we discuss more elaborately above, here at Abarim Publications we surmise that the voice of the Lord is a real and measurable phenomenon, which consists of several similar aspects on different levels of complexity. We guess that in the material universe, the voice of the Lord consists of gravitational waves which propagate through the very fabric of spacetime. It's generated by the interference of waves emanating from circling black holes and forms into a Chladni pattern that reflects the energy distribution in the universe. If DNA is caused by something, in stead of having accidentally self-assembled as some theorists maintain, this voice of the Lord would be an excellent candidate (see this process hinted at in John 3:8).

Note also the curious similarity between our noun φωνη (phone) and the noun φονος (phonos), meaning murder. The name Simeon derives from the Hebrew verb שמע (shama'), meaning to hear, and Simeon and his brother Levi were scattered in Israel for murdering the town of Shechem (Genesis 34:25). Because of their infraction and older brother Reuben's subsequent one (35:22), Israel's fourth son Judah rose to such prominence that all of Israel became known by his name: namely as Jews. Contrary to what's commonly believed, although Joseph of Nazareth was indeed a Jew, John the Baptist, Mary and thus Jesus were all Levites (see Luke 1:5 and 1:36). Jesus' prominent and sword-wielding disciple was named Simon (Matthew 4:18), whom Jesus called satan (Matthew 16:23), whom he called a "murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44). Why this pattern exists is not wholly clear to us here at Abarim Publications, but any aspiring exegetes should realize that the popular conception of God versus satan, and good versus evil is Zoroastrian and not Biblical (see Isaiah 45:5-7). Our noun φωνη (phone), meaning voice, occurs 139 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it derive:

  • Together with the noun αλεκτωρ (alektor), meaning rooster: the noun αλεκτωροφωνια (alektorophonia), meaning a rooster's crow (Mark 13:35 only).
  • Again together with the common prefix of negation α (a): the adjective αφονος (aphonos), meaning without information carried by sound. This adjective does not means soundless because it is applied to animals that may make a lot of noise but whose sounds convey little or no useful data.
    The lamb who was famously "silent" before its shearers (Acts 8:32, after Isaiah 53:7), wasn't necessarily silent but its bleating conveyed no significant information to its human wranglers. Folks who seek guidance but fail to find the voice of the Creator will attach themselves to guides who convey no useful information (1 Corinthians 12:2). But mature people value the vast diversity of both life and human expression, and realize that to the pure all things are pure (Psalm 18:24-26, Titus 1:15) and no voice is without meaning (1 Corinthians 14:10, see Acts 10:15 and 2 Timothy 3:16). This noun is used 4 times; see full concordance.
  • Together with the adjective κενος (kenos), meaning empty or void: the noun κενοφωνια (kenophonia), meaning empty-voicedness, which appears to denote any vocal projection with no measurable effectiveness. The difference with the previous word is that the previous word emphasizes a deficiency of the receiver to extract information from a carrier signal, whereas this word emphasizes the deficiency of the sender to invest useful information into the signal.
    Unlike animals in the wild, cows and such low all the time but no other cow reacts in any meaningful way. Unlike animals whose communications have a direct bearing on their chances of survival, domesticated animals need not worry about keeping their young close or inadvertently attracting predators with their calling, and subsequently store very little useful information in their nevertheless incessant vocalizations. Most modern westerners are as firmly secure in their lives as cows in their pen, and most followers of modern religions say things that everybody is saying without it making a lick of difference to anybody. If our lives and our children's lives would truly depend on the practical and measureable effect of the things we say — "angels will protect you"; "Jesus loves you"; "everything will be ok"; "let me pray for you" — very few of us would say the things we do, and everybody would be far more scientific and far less fantastic.
    When applied to human speech, this word refers to speech with no consequence, meaning or value (1 Timothy 6:20 and 2 Timothy 2:16 only).
  • Together with the preposition συν (sun), meaning together or with: the adjective συμφωνος (sumphonos), meaning joint-voiced or symphonic. It's the origin of our English word symphony, not necessarily describing identical information carried by multiple voices but rather varying informations that add up to a unified whole. This adjective is used substantially and occurs only once, in 1 Corinthians 7:5. From it in turn derive:
    • Once more together with the common prefix of negation α (a): the adjective ασυμφωνος (asumphonos), meaning asymphonic, discordant (Acts 28:25 only).
    • The verb συμφωνεω (sumphoneo), to symphone: to audibly agree, to be symphonic or in accord, to form a unified whole from possibly differing information streams. Luke 5:36 appears to speak of sowing a wineskin, but the usage of this verb show that it goes far beyond that. This verb is used 6 times, see full concordance, and from it in turn comes:
      • The noun συμφωνησις (sumphonesis), meaning a thing that exists by virtue of symphony; a symphony of information streams or an audible agreement (2 Corinthians 6:15 only). It differs from the next noun in that this one expresses the condition or situation accomplished by the verb συμφωνεω (sumphoneo), meaning to symphone, whereas the next expresses the condition resulting from the quality of being συμφωνος (sumphonos), or symphonic.
    • The noun συμφονια (sumphonia), meaning symphony: a harmonious concord of information streams (Luke 15:25 only). This word differs from the previous in that this one describes a condition arising from a static or inherent quality, whereas the previous describes a condition resulting from an activity.
  • The verb φονεω (phoneo), meaning to voice, or to invest information in a non-electromagnetic carrier signal in order to relate to a receiver: to call to [a hearer]. It's the audible equivalent of the verb φαινω (phaino), meaning to shine or rather: to invest information in an electromagnetic carrier signal in order to relate to a receiver: to appear to [a seer].
    In English the verb to call emphasizes the loudness of the vocalization but in Greek it emphasizes the information stored in the vocalization. In English a call becomes stronger when it becomes louder, but in Greek a call becomes stronger the better informed and more intimate the information is that is conveyed by the call. The act of calling out to someone with that person's name is parallel to "calling visually" to someone with an appearance that a person recognizes as his own: a uniform or garb, or perhaps some racial equality or one's facial expression such as a smile. The amazing concept of emotional mirroring allows a person to indeed "rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep" without ever having said a word (Romans 12:15, see Matthew 11:17). This verb is used 42 times, see full concordance, and from it derive:
    • Again together with the preposition ανα (ana), meaning on, upon, and often indicating a repeated, continued or emphasized activity: the verb αναφωνεω (anaphoneo), meaning to repeatedly call. This verb occurs only once in the New Testament, namely in Luke 1:42, where it describes the manner in which Elizabeth submitted that Mary was blessed among the women. Tradition maintains that Elizabeth was shouting, but Mary had already entered her house and she herself was six months pregnant. Since Mary would stay for three months it seems more likely that Elizabeth kept repeating her marvelous assertions.
    • Again together with the preposition επι (epi), meaning on or upon in a proximate sense (extremely close): the verb επιφωνεω (epiphoneo), meaning to voice upon. This verb could technically include a whispering in someone's ear but in practice it usually describes raising the volume: to call out loud, to shout (Luke 23:21, Acts 12:22 and 22:24 only). Although the noun επιφωνησις (epiphonesis), meaning a shout or cry isn't used in the New Testament, experiencing our verb would be the audible equivalent of an epiphany (see the noun επιφανεια, epiphaneia, above).
    • Together with the prefix προς (pros), which describes a motion toward: the verb προσφωνεω (prosphoneo), meaning to call toward a specific audience (Matthew 11:16) or toward a desired effect (Luke 23:20). This verb is used 7 times; see full concordance.

The verbs φημι (phemi) and επω (epo) both derive from the arch-verb φαω (phao), meaning to emit, and relate like the nouns φως (phos), meaning light, and φωνη (phone), meaning sound — or rather more precise: the investment of information in electromagnetic and non-electromagnetic signals, respectively.

The verb επω (epo), meaning to say, corresponds to φωνη (phone), meaning sound, and occurs 974 times in the New Testament, which is why the discussion of it has been delegated to its own Dictionary page. It also only occurs in the aorist tense, which is a verbal tense that English doesn't have but which omits any reference to time (pas, present or future) and emphasizes the nature of the act rather than the moment or duration of its occurrence.

Our verb φημι (phemi), in contrast, is used only in the (a) present and (b) imperfect forms, which correspond in English to the (a) present and present continuous, and (b) the perfect continuous tenses. In other words: The verb επω (epo) describes the process of casting words in the modulation of one's voice whilst not concerning oneself with quality, validity, reception of even ultimate effect or our doing so. Our verb φημι (phemi), in contrast, describes the controlled and maintained transmission of what we know in whichever way. The medium of transmission may indeed be our voice, but it would also include gestures or perhaps even drawings or smells, and who knows perhaps even telepathy — although Albert Mehrabian's famous 1971 paper has been duly reinterpreted, recent research does indicate that words cover only a small part of communication between people; much of it even goes via micro-expressions and micro-gestures which are largely involuntary and even unconsciously posed.

Our verb φημι (phemi) describes a broad spectrum of conveyance of which the verb λεγω (lego), meaning to speak, is a subset. The verb επω (epo) means to produce a broad spectrum of sounds of which the verb λαλεω (laleo), to yap, is a subset.

The verb φημι (phemi), meaning to convey is used 59 times, see full concordance, and from it derive:

  • Again together with the preposition συν (sun), meaning together or with: the verb συμφημι (sumphemi), meaning to jointly convey, to concur in full (Romans 7:16 only).
  • The noun φασις (phasis), which literally describes a conveyance; hence our English word phase. It's somewhat on a par with the noun λογος (logos) from the verb λεγω (lego). In Greek society, our noun φασις (phasis) described each of the aspects presented by the moon or stars, and particularly their orbital inclination and the moon's degree of illumination — in other words: the form of their conveyance of their being. It also became a legal term that, expectedly, described evidence or information that would illuminate a certain aspect of a particular case and help form a picture of what happened. As such it also came to denote any utterance or statement and finally even rumors and tidings.
    The word φασις (phasis) was also the name of a river, namely the Phasis, which is located east of the Black Sea and drained into it. This river is significant because Socrates held it as one of two extremes of the known world, as he famously said: "I believe that the earth is very large and that we who dwell between the pillars of Hercules and the river Phasis live in a small part of it ... " (Plato Phaedo.109a, also see Herodotus His.4.45.2). For reasons that are no longer clear, the corresponding city of Phasis was of enormous importance to the ancient world and appears in many myths and legends (specifically as destination of the Argonauts). It had a spectacularly advanced form of republican government but fell in 65 BC to the Roman general Pompey — the same who destroyed the autonomy of Judah in 63 BC.
    Note that Phasis was a northern border, since the Greek world was very well aware of the lands to the east, such as Persia. For complicated reasons (but see our article on the adjective δεξιος, dexios, meaning right), the ancients associated the south and east with refuge and painful alliance (hence the many bittersweet references to Arabia, Egypt and Babylon) and the north and west with unreliability and annihilation (hence the pretty much ignored Mediterranean Sea and the abductive Assyria).
    Our noun φασις (phasis) occurs only once in the New Testament, namely in Acts 21:31, where it explains why the commander of the Roman centurion was in such a hurry to arrest Paul: Paul preached "to all men everywhere" (21:28) and a phasis that "all Jerusalem was in uproar" was emerging. All this obviously demonstrates that although the narrative locates the action of the story in Roman Judea, the real-world arena that the story applied to was now expanding beyond the limits of the known world, and even into the world of shifty allies.
  • The noun φημη (pheme), which is similar to φασις (phasis), meaning a conveyance, except that with the latter the conveyance is intimately involved with the character conveyed, whereas of the latter the origin and thus the validity are not obvious. In other words: phasis describes a personal conveyance and pheme describes a conveyance via some agent: propaganda or propagation. In the classics this word described the utterances of deities, which were obviously conveyed by priests and such. Our word could also describe the kind of rumor that surged in excited billows through the population but was tentatively void of proper signature. Ultimately, our word could also be used to designate one speaker's whole delivery, but with the inescapable implication of admitting dubiosity. Our word occurs only in Matthew 9:26 and Luke 4:14, and from it stems:
    • The adjective βλασφημος (blasphemos), from which we have our English word blasphemous. This word indeed denotes a defaming, but, contrary to what is commonly believed, not necessarily of God or holy issues and not necessarily vocally (Matthew 27:39). Its emphasis also doesn't lie in the derogatory nature of blasphemy, but rather its viral propagation.
      Where the first part of this word comes from isn't clear, but scholars suggest the adjective βλαξ (blax), meaning stupid, or the verb βλαπτω (blapto), to hinder. Here at Abarim Publications we surmise that these words ultimately relate to the noun βλαστος (blastos), meaning growth or shoot, and the verb βλαστανω (blastano), meaning to bud, sprout or grow. That would mean that the adjective βλασφημος (blasphemos) describes the verbal equivalent of an outbreak and spread of an infection; the kind that starts with a seemingly innocent snort, but then propagates out of control and ends up inflaming and desensitizing an entire area.
      Blasphemy is not about speaking one's earnest criticism or honest disbelief because any sort of informed sincerity is a virtue held in high regard in the Bible. Rather it describes the social equivalent of leprosy, which is carried by a pathogen that is alien and harmful to an organism, and ultimately results in deformation and social isolation. People's aversion to hearing something that they are not used to may relate to a perfectly healthy social immune system, which in turn would call in the "white blood cells" of experts in the matter at hand. But woe to the community whose experts themselves are compromised. This adjective occurs 5 times, see full concordance, and from it derive:
      • The verb βλασφημεω (blasphemeo), meaning to instigate or propagate an infectious ruse, whether concerning God (Revelation 13:6), His name (Romans 2:24), the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:29), Jesus (Matthew 27:39, Mark 15:29), Artemis of Ephesus (Acts 19:37), Paul and other people (Romans 3:8, 1 Corinthians 4:13, Titus 3:2, 1 Peter 4:4), people's virtues (Romans 14:16), or names (James 2:7), the way of truth (2 Peter 2:2), "glories" (2 Peter 2:10, Jude 1:8), misunderstood things (2 Peter 2:12).
        Although the negativity of this verb is not directly stated (it only speaks of propagation after instigation) its detrimental effects are both implied and as often demonstrated. Ultimately the concerns expressed in this verb tie into the prohibition to bear false witness against one's neighbor, which is of course one of the ten capital pillars of all Law (Exodus 20:16). The Bible's preoccupation with leprosy and such diseases also appears to review the potentially detrimental effects of a seemingly innocent fib, and the uncritical propagating of information.
        The reason why blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven (Luke 12:10) is not because God is thin-skinned but because the mechanism that brings about forgiveness is counter-phased to the mechanism that blasphemes the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit unites people (see our article on the adjective αγιος, agios, meaning holy), which in turn brings about their ability to process other people's deficiencies (1 Peter 4:8). Counteracting convergence counteracts convergence.
        Our verb βλασφημεω (blasphemeo) is used 35 times; see full concordance
      • The noun βλασφημια (blasphemia), meaning blasphemy: the act of instigating or propagating an infectious ruse. This noun occurs 19 times; see full concordance.
    • Together with the prefix ευ (eu), meaning good: the adjective ευφημος (euphemos), meaning of good-conveyance. The associated verb ευφημεω (euphemeo) meant to use words of good omen and avoid specially identified unlucky words. Since it wasn't always clear which ones were the lucky ones, truly prudent practitioners of this verb kept silent all together. This verb is the opposite of δυσφημεω (dusphemeo), from the prefix δυσ- (dus-), from which we get our English prefix "dis-" (and which stems from an ancient root that expressed disparity; hence also the word δυο, duo, meaning two).
      The curious practice of assigning inherent benevolence and malevolence to words and ultimately entire spells and blessings possibly stems from a disintegrated wisdom tradition, in which a person of great learning was once observed reciting a mnemonic rhyme that laid out a complicate procedure (for instance, if you feel like pi, say: May I have a large container of coffee?).
      Judging from ancient monuments and unearthed artifacts, mankind has known periods of vast technological prowess (to give a hint: metallurgy was invented in the Stone Age), and since there was no script yet, vast amounts of information were stored in unimaginably complex lyric prose. This explains why we have the Bible and the works of Homer and such, and also why Paul said that in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). People who have seen the power of a mnemonic text but lost the key (like, say, the key of David; Revelation 3:7) will end up assigning great powers to a door knob. We know that prior to the Bronze Age collapse, the world's wisdom elite maintained vast correspondence across many different language groups (even Cleopatra still spoke nine languages) and when the world collapsed and people retracted to within their local language areas, mnemonics from foreign languages probably gave rise to words like abracadabra and hocus pocus.
      Our adjective ευφημος (euphemos) became our English term euphemism, which is a figure of speech in which something offensive is conveyed by means of a less offensive semi-equivalent. In the New Testament our word occurs only once, in Philippians 4:8, where it probably refers to lucidity as opposed to esotericism. From this adjective comes:
      • The noun ευφημια (euphemia), meaning good-conveyance. This word occurs only once, in 2 Corinthians 6:8, where it occurs juxtaposed with δυσφημια (dusphemia), which literally describes a disparity between the thing described by the speaker and the thing understood by the hearer. The noun ευφημια (euphemia) describes the opposite of that, namely a veritable reflection of the thing described and a subsequent identical understanding by the hearer. Euphemia requires great skills on both sides of the exchange and leads to peace. Dusphemia results from inadequacy and leads to chaos.
  • Together with the preposition προ (pro), meaning before or in front of: the verb προφημι (prophemi), meaning to speak for. This verb is not used in the New Testament but from it comes the familiar noun ποφητης (prophetes), meaning prophet. This exciting word elicited its own colossal article, so please follow the link for the details.

Associated Biblical names