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

Source: https://www.abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/a/a-r-n-e-o-m-a-i.html


Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary


The difficult verb αρνεομαι (arneomai) means to deny or to refuse to acknowledge someone's (or anything's) identity, kinship or even existence. This verb also occurs in some related languages but its origins are so obscure that scholars propose a specially dedicated Proto-Indo-European root that has no further derivatives. And that is a fancy way of saying that we don't really understand this verb or have much of a grasp of the concerns and intentions that our forebears expressed in it.

What we do understand is that during the Bronze and early Iron ages, humanity existed as a vast network of commercial and intellectual interactions. We know this because the excavated libraries of the Hittites contained texts in seven different languages, and the Hittite language itself contained many loanwords from other languages, particularly words concerning theoretical (rather than practical) matters. Greek too was influenced heavily by foreign wisdom traditions, certainly including those of the Semitic southern neighbors (1 Kings 10:24-25). Since our verb ultimately describes one's removal from someone else (or something they say or stand for), and the Hebrews had formally ritualized this activity in the guise of Azazel the scapegoat, an informed Greek poet would surely have noted the convenient similarity between our verb and the noun αρνιον (arnion), meaning lamb (see below).

In living languages, the forms of words sometimes gravitate toward each other in a kind of verbal convergent evolution. The verb αρνεομαι (arneomai) looks like it means "to be lambized", and if that seems outrageous: our English word "lamb" is common to the Germanic language group but very curiously not outside it, and we don't know where it came from. However, words like the adjective lame, and the verbs to lam (to beat, flee, escape) and to lambaste (to physically or verbally assault) come from a broadly attested Proto-Indo-European root "lem-", to break. And sure enough, our English word "science" shares its PIE root with the Greek verb σχιζω (schizo), to break, split or divide.

The Hebrew equivalent of this Greek verb is the verb בין (bin), to discern or create space between things. The Hebrew word for son is בן (ben), since in Hebrew terminology a father is personified by his complex of sons (in the sense that colors are the "sons" of white light). The word for daughter is בת (bat). House or temple is בית (bayit). The verb בנה (bana) means to build. Hence living stones, rejected by men, are being built into a living temple (1 Peter 2:1-7).

Like "lamb", the two nouns "limb" (one referring to a body part, the other to an edge) are of unclear origin, but certain scholars suspect relations with the Sanskrit verb lambate, to hang down limply. The words "sheep", "shop" and "ship" are common in Germanic but not outside and are too of unclear origin. The Greek word for ship, ναυς (naus), resembles ναος (naos), temple, and νεος (neos), new.

The noun αρνιον (arnion), lonesome little lamb, is a diminutive of αρην (aren), lamb. The word for wool is εριον (erion), or alternatively αρνος (arnos). The verb αιρω (airo), means to lift up and carry away; the verb αρω (aro) means to join or fit together. From a Hebrew equivalent of the latter, namely לוה (lawa), to join, comes the name Levi; the priestly Levites were literally the Joiners, whose job it was to find ways to induce social cohesion and join the people. The Hebrew word for hair, namely שער (se'ir), is part of a cluster of words that all have to do with intense emotions and fear, hence the proverbial lamb that was silent before its shearers, and that went on to take away the sin of the world (Isaiah 53:7, John 1:29).

We moderns forget that manufactured thread literally provided the strings that bound the ancient world together. People have clothed themselves with fur and leather at least since they left Africa in deep antiquity but from the 7th millennium BC, began to weave flax, cotton and wool. Due to its ease of production, thermal qualities and resistance to fire, wool quickly became a hit among desert dwelling societies.

Woven clothing allowed artistic designs and thus a means for people to express themselves and advertise their own complex identities. The transition from hunter-gathering to pastoral nomadism allowed people to create tents from woven fabrics, to create individual households, and furnish their collectives with carpets and beautiful curtains. Woven fabrics literally allowed people to specialize, and thus create more complex societies. And of course, people developed machines to process fibers and weave the threads, which resulted in a general technological sophistication that was applicable far beyond the textile world.

Our English words "technology" and "textile" share the Proto-Indo-European root "teks-", which means to weave. Significantly, this same root also gave us the word "text", which demonstrates that the ancients understood not only that any complex society is a realm of intricately woven houses, carpets, curtains and coats, but also that the whole realm of information technology is a mirror image of the whole of human economy (Exodus 25:40, Hebrews 8:5). King David spoke of being woven in his mother's womb (Psalm 139:13), with which he not merely referred to his own physical body but also to the Word with which he identified (compare Proverbs 25:2-4 to Psalm 2:7) and its body of written scriptures (Psalm 16:10; see our article on YHWH).

The PIE root "teks-", to weave, resulted in Greek in the verb τικτω (tikto), to produce or "weave together" one's offspring. From this verb stems the noun τεκτων (tekton), meaning assembler or joiner, which was the earthly profession of both Jesus (Mark 6:3) and his Jewish father-by-law Joseph (Matthew 13:55). Jesus' biological mother Mary — from whom alone Jesus received his set of human genes — was not a Jew but, since she was a close kin of Elizabeth (Luke 1:36), a Levite (Luke 1:5).

Contrary to common perception, the scientific method is not an instrument to prove right but rather to prove wrong, which is why David compared a deceitful tongue to a razor (Psalm 52:2, also see Acts 21:24). Science's core concern of proving wrong is called falsification, and falsification divides the total of all possible statements into two piles: the pile of certainly false statements and the remaining pile of statements that might be false and then maybe not. The pile of certified falsehoods is like a pile of hair, and hair is what you get when your consciousness brings forth considerations which grow into concerns and then worries and then entangling obsessions. The pile still under review is like our living physical body, that goes about its daily business and also produces hair all over its surface.

Our worldview depends largely on our knowledge of the world, and our celebrated body of scientific knowledge is really like a glass of muddy water through which we look at our reality. Now we look at the world through that glass rather dimly, but it's the job of our scientists to slowly but surely flick dirty drifters from that glass. Mankind's coiffure is now no longer wild and unkempt but neatly trimmed, brushed and bundled.

Complex societies, likewise, are not based on homogeneity and compliance but on diversity and specialization, and crucially, an atmosphere of market forces that allows society to self-organize, to express preferences and to abandon whatever it rejects. When sages began to smelt metals and produce metal items (tools and weapons), their singular understanding of furnace technology related directly to the hotness of their fire, which related directly to the purity of their metals, which related directly to the quality of the metal objects, which related directly to the longevity and prosperity, and thus the functioning, specialization and self-organization of their people. Most of us earthlings are along for the ride and exert a relatively small force upon the self-shaping market, but some of us are actively engaged at the very heart of it, doing things that, to the average consumer, have not a lick to do with what we want. The concerns at the heart (how to make a fire much hotter than any naturally occurring fire) have very little to do with the concerns at society's surface (how to beat the enemy who's ogling our food, land and mates), which may seduce an average customer to think that his sages don't care about him. The sages, in turn, purge society from fear and hardship by purifying society's metals, by purifying their fires, by purifying their understanding of the natural process of combustion (Malachi 3:1-5).

Intelligence, namely, is likewise based on the ability to create data from data, by comparing data points and creating secondary data points from the differences between the primary ones, then tertiary points from secondary ones, and so on. Since each following generation of data points must be less in number than the previous, this process ultimately converges upon a singularity, very deep down, and this singular point corresponds to the singular worldview of the intelligence, against which all further observations are tried. Observations that don't match the established pattern are either not made (you can't see what you don't expect; hence the famous Invisible Gorilla) or they disturb the existing pattern to great internal upheaval, and possible massive systemic collapse (madness). This means that not only humans are intelligent, societies are intelligent as well. Long before there were computers, modern societies always, in literal fact, functioned as Artificial Deep Learning Intelligences. These social AIs can be quantified and measured. They have personality and experience.

Societies emergence in the world for the same natural reasons that living creatures do. And just like individual human intelligence is based on the existence of a singularity at the heart of all observations, that organizes and governs all observations at the surface, so society at large is getting ready to converge upon a global singularity that governs all people. That means that not some shiny T1000 but we the people are the terminators who will purge society from its undesirables. Whether this process will indeed result in a holocaust and a hell on earth, or otherwise a cosmic kiln in a technological Paradise, depends entirely on this rule: There will be hell for those who gravitate to whatever is false, dishonorable, wrong, impure, hateful or poorly reviewed, but Paradise for those who gravitate to whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely or well received (Philippians 4:8). And since both endeavors are pursued on planet earth today, both environments are in the making, and it's up to our own free selves which party we want to join: that of the slag or that of the purified metal (Matthew 25:32, James 3:12).

(We should add a quick note here because these things may conjure up certain images that are popular in our world but stem from pagan perspectives: All natural ore must hit the furnace but where metal is extracted to construct a wholly synthetic world, the slag is scooped off and given back to the nature in came from, where it desires to go and where it will live happily ever after in a world without the metal it never comprehended. Food, when eaten, is divided into nutrients that are absorbed by the body, and rejected elements that pass on and are deposited back into the biosphere it came from. Flies, the notorious chaos-makers — the name Beelzebub means Lord of the Flies — are an essential part of any functioning ecosystem, and when they are found in one's soup or ointment, they are lovingly scooped out and flung out the window into the world they serve so well. Then we make a mental note to repair the bug screen, pet the dog and stroke the cat and go back to our soup, meditating on the meaning of purity (καθαρος, katharos) and the fact that when a metallurgic separation process begins, there's much more slag than metal, but when the process is nearly done, there's far more metal than slag.)

Every large set whose completeness adds up to a singular identity (Ic = Σeא) must exist of a great many elements (eנ, with eנ << I) that are identical to that which they are not (eנ = Ic - eנ). When one conscious human being (eנ) observes the world (Ic), the world is duplicated within this person's mind so that the person's mind becomes equal to the world she observes (which is the world without her, even if she's looking in a mirror). This means that anything that an observer observes in the world must also be part of the observer, and any denial is automatically a lie (Romans 2:1). The observer perhaps does not understand how the observation fits in, and that's where science comes in. But the key phrase is fitting in. All things that a person can observe, including other people and their observations, somehow fit in and are related to all other things in a perfect symmetry. The job of the scientific process is to put observations in their proper place, and purge the mind from beliefs that have no observable counterparts in the world. The key, again, is completion, or שלום (shalom) in Hebrew.

People have known for a few millennia now that the universe has always been a closed system, whose dynamics have always been one. In modern terms we say that the singularity was never compromised, which is why the total amount of energy in the universe does not change, that what goes up must come down, that things like angular momentum and baryon number are preserved, and that the wind follows the equilibrium of the atmosphere. This also means that Whatever Once Created And Now Still Governs The Universe must be as One as the universe itself is and can neither change nor spring internal structures that would compromise this Oneness, and neither can the Theory Of Everything that will one day wholly describe all this oneness (Deuteronomy 6:4, Hebrews 1:3, John 1:18, Colossians 2:3, Romans 1:20). Whatever this one and only Theory Of Everything might finally turn out to look like, it's never clever to deny it, or be an element that doesn't fit in and will thus be denied (2 Peter 2:1).

Intelligence creates data from data by comparing data points, which in the case of humanity are people, and this is why we are all so curious about each other: we're driven by the most primal force of the universe (αγαπη, agape). Whatever fits in is kept and gets interwoven into the whole, and whatever does not, is not (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

The Bible's prime directive — "treat others the way you want to be treated" — not only sums up the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12), and is thus the same as the singular Theory Of Everything that explains the singular fact that Oneness creates, maintains, governs and directs the fate of the universe and everything in it, it also demands the identification of one's own will, Theory of Mind and the identification of other people's desires. And in the unique event that there are no others, and one's entire will is occupied with this one rule (John 1:1), this rule demands the creation of others, many others, whose completeness is identical to oneself (John 17:21-26).

Our verb is used 31 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it derives:

  • Together with the preposition απο (apo), mostly meaning from: the verb απαρνεομαι (aparneomai), to deny from, to extract oneself from, to deny kinship with some common normalcy and embrace another, to switch allegiances.
    The difference between our modern world and the natural world of deep antiquity is that the latter was based on the natural relationships between kin: family groups and tribes, whereas our modern world is based on principles that far exceed natural kinship: languages, manners, art, stories and legacies but also complex central governments and technologies like the electrical grid, a shared sewer system, the Internet and smart phones. All of us begin our social life with the conviction that our parents are superheroes and our family group something very special, but most toddlers are quick to understand that a greater social continuum stems from shared values and language. In their maturity, most people remain emotionally connected to their family of origin, but their ratio curtails all such sentiments and guides them through the unfamiliar, from the next neighborhood over to the howling infinite of the stellar expanse. It's not uncommon, however, that in times of crisis the ratio is forcibly subdued and the emotional self reverts to the preference of familiarity and denies the ratio while wallowing in fear for what it does not recognize.
    This verb is used 13 times; see full concordance.

The noun αρην (aren) means lamb, the young of a sheep or goat. These animals were collectively known by the noun προβατον (probaton), from προ (pro), forward, and βαινω (baino), to walk or step. And this stems probably from the fact that sheep are wired to follow a leader. In the wild that would be the lead ram and on the farm that would be the shepherd. Pigs, on the other hand, have no such internal instinct and have to be violently driven from behind.

But still, sheep and goats were literally known as forward-walkers or progressors, and a young was thus literally "a step forward". The noun αρην (aren) comes from a broadly attested PIE root wrh'en, meaning lamb and particularly the ram-lamb. It's little more than a wild guess, but Jewish inclined Greek poets may have allowed this same root to inspire the verb αρνεομαι (arneomai), to deny, which we discuss at some length above. See for more on the great societal benefits of relatively modest personal sacrifices our article on the verb περιτεμνω (peritemno), to circumcise. Our noun αρην (aren), lamb, occurs in Luke 10:3 only, but from it derive:

  • The noun αμνος (amnos), also meaning lamb. This neutral word comes with a feminine sibling, namely the noun αμνη (amne), ewe-lamb, which is not used in the New Testament. How or why these words were formed from αρην (aren) is not really clear, but the following words readily jump to mind: the noun αμμος (ammos), meaning sand (see Genesis 32:12, Revelation 20:8) and the noun αμοιβη (amoibe), meaning change. In Hebrew we have the verb אמן ('aman), to assure or certify; hence the familiar term Amen. Our curious noun αμνος (amnos) occurs 4 times; see full concordance.
  • The noun αρνιον (arnion), which is a diminutive form of αρην (aren), and thus means little or very young lamb, quite possibly the cutest and least assertive creature in the agricultural world. However, the diminutive form in Greek may also perform the function of the familiar Semitic formulation "son of", meaning one of some particular vocation or leaning (the term "son of the prophets" simply designates "one of the prophets", or even simpler: "a prophet"). That means that our noun αρνιον (arnion) also emphasizes the aloneness of the lamb in question: "one from the lambs" is a creature separated from the collective that would sustain it. Hence in the Greek classics our noun αρνιον (arnion) may even literally denote "one of a lamb" and refer to a lamb's fleece (the familiar term "Golden Fleece" uses the word δερας, deras, from δερω, dero, to skin). Our noun is used 31 times in the New Testament, and with the exception of John 21:15 ("feed my little lambs"), all in the Book of Revelation; see full concordance.