Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The noun ελεος (eleos) means mercy and is, to eyes that are sensitive to this sort of thing, not without similarities to the noun ηλιος (helios), meaning sun. This is probably not due to a true etymological kinship, but on a poet's pallet the proximity of these words may have helped the formation of certain familiar metaphors and the acceptation of these as narrative archetypes by popular society. Another word of apparent kinship is the noun ελευθερια (eleutheria), meaning freedom. The familiar Homeric term "merciless bronze" uses a particle of negation plus our noun ελεος (eleos) plus the word χαλκος (chalkos), copper or bronze.
"Mercy" is a familiar word but, like "love", is often deployed by merit of its familiarity rather than its clarity, and statements containing these terms generally convey a mere vague propensity rather than acute direction, like the blur of the sun shining behind a thick overcast.
Mercy is extended by an authority toward a subject who has failed to meet expectations. This means that mercy can only exist where authority exists and where expectations exist as a result of formal law issued by the authority. The primary objective of this law is to establish and maintain the authority (which explains the first five of the Ten Commandments), since on this the whole authoritative structure depends. That means that mercy will only be issued when it confirms the authority, and not when it challenges it.
When a subject fails to abide by the law, the authority may select to resort to mercy when the failure is due to some kind of inability of the subject (ignorance, illiteracy, deafness, lack of intelligence), and the act of mercy has the same result as the objective of the law, namely to establish and confirm the authority. That means that mercy can only exist where law fails to support authority (where law fails to successfully instruct subjects on how to fulfil their own desire to exist in synchronicity with the authority), and authority must outrank the law to compensate for this failure.
Since the laws that govern creation reflect the will of the Creator (Romans 1:20) the scientific study of nature requires mercy as long as it's incomplete and has not yet been able to compress all of natural law into a single, singular and comprehensible Theory Of Everything (TOE). If the whole of the law were to be compressed into a single Theory Of Everything (Matthew 7:12, John 1:18, Hebrews 1:3), the initial issuance of this TOE would be, likewise, an act of mercy (John 3:16). And if all subjects were to seamlessly embody this TOE, bridging the final gap between this perfect body of subjects and the issuing authority would still be an act of mercy (Titus 3:5).
This amazing and insightful noun ελεος (eleos), mercy, is used 28 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it derive:
- The adjective ελεεινος (eleeinos), meaning needful of mercy, which is a situation brought about by an unintentional failure to operate within the parameters set by natural law and a desire to return to it. This word essentially describes the imperfection of information technology (speech, script, narrative complexity), or the imperfect deploy of it due to lack of knowledge or skill. This word is used in 1 Corinthians 15:19 and Revelation 3:17 only.
- The verb ελειω (eleio), meaning to provide mercy (hence the familiar term "kyrie, eleison", "lord show mercy", which combines our verb with the noun κυριος, kurios, lord). As we describe in more detail above, mercy is not an abstract idea but a measurable event with a measurable effect. Mercy is required to account for the failure of subjects to embody the will of an authority, as manifested in the law. This failure must be accompanied by the desire of the subjects to nevertheless embody the will of the authority, and must thus be due to (1) the subjects' lack of ability to properly familiarize themselves with the law, and (2) the lack of the ability to comply, even when the law is understood.
In the case of the Creator, his will is expressed in creation, and his law can be understood by reading nature. The job of science is to read nature and to translate natural law from the language of nature into a language that humans can comprehend. And this requires the development of human language, human script and human narrative (see our article on the name YHWH). Since the whole of creation is as one as the Creator is (which is why there can be a Theory Of Everything in the first place), in order for humanity to perfectly embody natural law, humanity must be one. And that is where philosophers of science and educators of manners and codes of conduct come in.
Wealth has nothing to do with the presence of money (a static and private thing) but with the application of money (a dynamic and communal thing). Knowledge, likewise, is a static and private thing based on accumulation but wisdom is a dynamic and communal thing based on the application of knowledge. Wisdom and wealth relate to knowledge and money the way life relates to molecules. Wisdom is not merely an accumulative broadening of one's observations but rather an ability to generalize observations with formal descriptions, and to re-use formal descriptions to cover multiple observations. Science calls this consilience, but more generally this is called intelligence. An increase in intelligence means a simultaneous broadening of the scope of what is considered, and a narrowing of the theory that describes it. This results in two overlapping triangles: one that has its apex in the simple beginning of awareness and grows broader as one becomes aware of more and more specific things, and the other one that starts in the triangular base that is the width of all things observed and then described, and which converges as these descriptions generalize and diverge upon the apex that is the singularity of one's conscious and singular understanding of the world. These two overlapping triangles sit at the heart of both monotheism and intelligence and are symbolized as the familiar star of David (Isaiah 22:22, Luke 11:52, Revelation 3:7).
Today, most scientists "believe" that a Theory Of Everything is possible. And since all science is pretty much unified up to the fork in the road where gravity breaches from the strongelectroweak force, and where life forks from matter, most scientists further "believe" that unification can't be far off. However, the words that we're presently discussing teach us the curious contradiction that as long as the Theory Of Everything is not One, it is not complete. This means that we don't know what's missing at the sharp end of our intelligence, which in turn translates to what's missing at the broad end of what we can observe. Since the universe consists of 5% observable stuff and 95% so-called dark matter and dark energy that we can't even find, let alone formally describe, humanity is actually just a few first feeble steps into grand unification. Despite the hopes, dreams and beliefs of many scientists, the road ahead is still long. Fortunately, we've become mature enough to understand the purpose of learning and the essence of its working mechanisms, which means that the suffering should be over and the adventure can begin.
This magnificent verb is used 31 times; see full concordance.
- The adjective ελεημων (eleemon), meaning merciful or prone to render mercy. This word has nothing to do with letting criminals get away with breaking the law, but much rather with helping the failing with bridging the gaps: to find ways to glue the failing together so that they still comply with the ultimate demand of the authority, which is to be acknowledged as authority (Proverbs 9:10). Our formal churches have a bit of a bad rep in our modern world but in fact are the most merciful institutions ever to grace our world. This adjective is used in Matthew 5:7 and Hebrews 2:17 only, and from it come:
- Together with the particle of negation α (a), meaning not or without: the adjective ανελεημων (aneleemon), meaning not merciful, without the ability (or authorization) to bridge the gap between the failing and the authority (Romans 1:31 only).
- The noun ελεημοσυνη (eleemosune), meaning act of mercy: an act of gluing the failing together so that they still comply with the ultimate demand of the authority, which is to be acknowledged as authority. The most obvious failing members of society are of course the poor. Wealth is not about being rich but about security and community, and contrary to common perception, the divide between rich and poor people is not due to the stagnant presence of money but to the velocity of money. Or in other words: the difference between poor people and rich people is that rich people have meetings, and the money is just a side effect of that. People like heirs or lottery winners who accidentally became rich and don't know how money works, or charlatans who want to be known as generous helpers of the poor, will give the poor money. This will cause these people to become even more alienated from their peers, and thus even poorer, while the money returns like a boomerang to the rich. Instead, someone who is truly interested in helping the poor will teach them how to commune, how to formulate their thoughts and formalize their desires, and how to react to those of others. Those abilities are summed up by the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) and widely expounded by the gospel of Jesus Christ. People who don't know how money works and also don't know how the gospel works will end up preaching religion to a starving audience. The rest gather people in rooms, challenge them to freely discuss — παρρησιαζομαι (parresiazomai), to say all, to speak freely — the greater mysteries of being human and so teach people how to search each other's hearts and so doing create wealth (Matthew 11:5).
Nations that are serious about combating poverty should provide facilities in which folks can exercise their freedom of thought. Those are facilities without music blaring, without booze flowing and without instructors barking, where small groups can congregate and discuss their own private lives and their own collective neighborhoods, preferably moderated by people who actually know how wealth works and how wisdom works (which might be a challenge to come by). This noun is used 14 times; see full concordance.