Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The amazing and ancient root teks- means to weave or fabricate (mostly by assembling or arranging). Traces of this root can be found in Sanskrit (taksan means carpenter), Greek (tekton means carpenter, see below), Latin (texere means to weave) and thus in English: words like texture and text derive from the act of weaving, and words like technology and tectonic from the idea of producing.
In the context of the New Testament, it's important to realize that to the Greeks there was a close relationship (or rather: no distinction) between the bringing forth of children — and although the respective contributions to the process obviously differ widely, both the father and the mother "brought forth" children — and the bringing forth of works of art and literature. Hence in his Symposium, Plato could famously speak of "those who are only pregnant in the body" versus "souls which are pregnant":
Plato — Symposium
And such creators are poets and all artists who are deserving of the name inventor. But the greatest and fairest sort of wisdom by far is that which is concerned with the ordering of states and families...
What Jesus used to do
Most significantly, Joseph, the father-by-law of Jesus, was a tekton. Some commentators have argued that Jesus was born not into a family of wood workers but rather one of stone masons, as this would explain the many references to masonry in the New Testament and the absence of any references to carpentry. Socrates, to whom the above was addressed, was a stone mason in his youth and the authors of the New Testament were highly skilled literary artists who without doubt were intimately familiar with Plato (see our article on the name Homer) and clearly shared his appreciation of statesmanship.
Christian enthusiasts often forget that Christianity has been a purely religious enterprise for only the last few centuries. Prior to roughly the Renaissance, Christianity was predominantly a political affair, spiced up with scientific pursuits and of course the arts but very little Scripture Theory. It was in the hardly concealed interest of the "Christian" elite (popes and kings and the likes) to keep the plebs from reading the Bible. Because anyone who takes time to actually look at the texts will swiftly conclude that besides its purely theological concerns, the gospel of Jesus Christ represents a peaceful but vehement resistance against totalitarianism in general and Roman imperial theology specifically (for more on this, see our articles on names like Pilate, Onesimus and Quirinius).
Often misquoted as call to individual conversion, Jesus ordered His followers to make disciples of the nations (Matthew 28:19). The Psalmist had exclaimed: "why are the nations in uproar" and take their stand "against YHWH and His anointed [that is: Messiah, or Christ in Greek, a common word that denotes any Hebrew king or high priest]" (Psalm 2). Christ's coming fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet Haggai: "And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come" (Haggai 2:7). God's promise to Abraham, which is fulfilled in Christ, was for all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:3, 28:14, Psalm 22:27, Jeremiah 1:15). And when John saw the promised new earth, he saw the tree of life, while "the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations" (Revelation 22:2).
Despite the best intentions of globalists on one end and anarchists on the other, the Bible writers understood mankind to be designed to operate within large family structures. The Bible maintains that human individual must (1) be very well informed about the working of the created world, (2) be wholly free to interpret those workings personally and apply these to his/her own life, and (3) operate as integrated part of a larger but self-organizing social structure.
Life, as based on DNA, obviously operates the same way (hence different textures in various organs, all based on the individual interpretations of the identical genetic code within the heart of all cells), and God's promise to mankind is that some day our society will no longer be a gridlocked machine but a living social organism.
The noun τεκτων (tekton) denotes an artisan, and particularly someone who produces items by assembling existing materials. In the building industry, such an assembler would most often be assembling wooden items, so our word is mostly associated to carpenters and joiners who built scaffolding, floors and furniture to dwell in and on, but it just as well described someone who puzzled factual observations into a theory to believe in and work with. Isaiah obviously plays with this striking metaphor, as he depicts a skillful carpenter who selects a rot-free tree to create a wobble-free idol (Isaiah 40:20).
In Greek literature, our word τεκτων (tekton) is often used juxtaposed with:
- The noun χαλκευσ (chalkeus), which describes a bronze-worker, or someone who uses fire to turn stone into pools of metal, or heats up a chunk of metal and violently whacks it into the form he wants. It's often overlooked what a miraculous invention metal working was, but it required specially built furnaces that could contain and maintain fires that were much warmer than anybody would normally want to bring about (see Daniel 3:19 relative to 2:31-33), as well as several other specific technologies that had no other use. In cultural evolutionary terms, the rise of metal working is as mysterious as the origin of the eye, and metal working clearly bordered on esoteric magic — to illustrate this: the Hebrew word נחש, nahash means both bronze, snake and to divine. Also note the similarity between our root and the verb τηκω (teko), meaning to melt or smelt (2 Peter 3:12).
- The noun λιθολογος (lithologos), which describes a mason, or literally someone who knows his stones. The difference between a mason and a carpenter is that a mason knows all about tough lifeless hunks that have been the same for eons and then chisels them into a more fitting shape, while a carpenter works with soft material that has recently grown. But obviously, someone who knows his stones may build a building that will stand for centuries, while the assemblages of a wood worker will be relevant for just a short while. Note that right after depositing the Law in Israel, the Lord ordered the building of an earth-altar made from unaltered God-shaped stones (Exodus 20:22) and that something similar was observed in the building of Solomon's temple (1 Kings 6:7; also see 1 Peter 2:5).
In the New Testament, the word τεκτων (tekton) is used only to describe the profession of Joseph, the legal father of Jesus (Matthew 13:55) and of Jesus Himself (Mark 6:3). But the Septuagint uses our word to describe carpenters who worked on David's house (2 Samuel 5:11) and the Temple (2 Kings 12:11), but also artisans who made or maintained iron or iron-clad weaponry and farming tools (1 Samuel 13:19) and even work in bronze (1 Kings 7:14).
Our noun τεκτων (tekton) combined with the prefix αρχι (archi-), in this case meaning chief, creates the familiar noun αρχιτεκτων (architekton), meaning chief of the workmen or artificers; an architect (1 Corinthians 3:10 only).
The ubiquitous verb τικτω (tikto) — which declines in forms that look like τεξω (texo) and τεκε (teke) — means to bring into the world via sexual reproduction, to engender (as in: "you wove me in my mother's womb" ; Psalm 139:13). In Greek literature this verb is used both for the father's part in the matter (and then usually translated with to beget) as well as for the mother's (to bear). It's mostly applied to human reproduction but without reservations also for that of animals. When our verb is used for the production of something else, it's obviously used in a metaphorical sense.
In the Bible our verb applies almost solely to women giving birth (Matthew 1:21, John 16:21, Galatians 4:27, Revelation 12:2). James uses this verb to powerfully illustrate how lust conceives and gives birth to sin. Likewise, Paul depicts the earth as conceiving rain and giving birth to vegetation (Hebrews 6:7, and note the similarity with the Eleusinian Mysteries).
This verb comes with the following derivatives and compounds:
- Together with the adjective πρωτος (protos), meaning first: the noun πρωτοτοκος (prototokos), meaning firstborn. This word may apply to one's literal oldest child (Matthew 1:25, Luke 2:7), but in Israel's social structure, it more applies to the rights and status of a chief descendant, or rather that descendant who represents all others. As such, this word is comparable to the Hebrew noun ראשית (re'shit), which represents the summarizing apex of a whole series or collective rather than the first acknowledged member, and which is the first word of the Bible (Genesis 1:1, see Colossians 1:15-16). Our word πρωτοτοκος (prototokos) is in that sense applied to Christ (Romans 8:29, Hebrews 1:6, Revelation 1:5) and hence to the church (Hebrews 12:23). From our word in turn comes:
- The noun πρωτοτοκια (prototokia), which denotes the firstborn's special rights and status (Hebrews 12:16 only).
- The noun τεκνον (teknon), meaning child (Matthew 10:21, Luke 7:35, Titus 1:6) or more general: offspring or posterity (Matthew 3:9, Acts 2:39, Romans 9:7). This word may also used for "spiritual" children: people who someone brought into life by bringing them to the Lord (Matthew 9:2. 1 Timothy 1:18, 1 Corinthians 4:17). This means that these "children" acknowledge their "father", which leads the Bible authors to speak of tekna tou Theou, or children of God (John 11:52, Romans 8:16, Ephesians 5:1) but via the same mechanism (people brought to death by leading them away from the Lord) of tekna tou diabolou, or children of the devil (1 John 3:10). Note that Jesus is never referred to as "child" of God but always as υιος (huios), "son" of God (or Man). From this noun come:
- Together with the particle of negation α (a), meaning without: the adjective ατεκνος (ateknos), meaning childless (Luke 20:28-30 only).
- Together with the verb τρεφω (trepho), meaning to raise up: the verb τεκνοτροφεω (teknotropheo), meaning to bring up children (1 Timothy 5:10 only).
- Together with the substantive φιλος (philos), meaning friend: the adjective φιλοτεκνος (philoteknos), meaning child-loving (Titus 2:4 only).
- The noun τεχνε (techne), meaning an art, skill or craft with which to bring forth artistic productions (Acts 17:29, 18:3 and Revelation 18:22 only). From this noun come:
- Together with the familiar prefix ομως (homos), meaning one or similar: the adjective ομοτεχνος (homotechnos), meaning of the same skill or trade (Acts 18:3 only).
- The noun τεχνιτης (technites), denoting an artisan or craftsman (Acts 19:24, 19:38, Revelation 18:22). In Hebrews 11:10 this word is applied to God.
- The noun τοκος (tokos), meaning interest (on invested or deposited money: Matthew 25:27 and Luke 19:23 only)