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

Source: https://www.abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/o/o-r-e-g-om.html


Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary


The verb ορεγω (orego) means to reach for, or more elaborate: to attempt to extend one's control over something that's now not controlled. Since controlling is often done with one's hand (in Greek: χειρ, cheir; in Latin: manus), this verb essentially means to manipulate, to set after one's hand.

The art of manipulation is closely associated with one's will or desire (as one reaches for what one wants) but may also stem from feelings, reactions, reflexes, intuitions or emotions that are not part of one's conscious will. A reaching or stretching out one's limb without the wish to extend one's control is described by the verb εκτεινω (ekteino). These two verbs meet most spectacularly in Mark 3:5, where Jesus looks around with the intention of manipulating the bystanders, and then tells the man to extend his hand for Jesus to heal.

Crucially, the action of our verb extends from one's initial realization that the existing situation fails to meet one's approval. This connects our verb closely to one's ability to assess the situation at hand, and subsequently to one's discontentment or even anger.

Still, it deserves emphasis that our verb neither describes one's negative feelings about the present situation nor one's positive feelings about the future situation, but the intentional transition between them. If the object of our verb is a single person, this person takes a proverbial giant leap, not within the compass of the parameters of his original condition, but across the limits, into a whole new reality, where new parameters define a new range of motion. If the object of our verb is matter, then it describes a phase transition (jumping from solid to liquid or from gas to plasma, and so on). If the object is society, then it describes a transition such as going from hunter-gathering to agriculture, or from terra-centricity to helio-centricity, from ego-centricity to Theory of Mind, or from kratocracy to asthenocracy (Zechariah 4:6, 2 Corinthians 12:9). Possibly the most familiar and dreaded phase transition that regularly befalls human society is that between peace and war: when the solid structures of society melt away and are replaced by the liquid chaos of combat.

An English phrasal verb that comes somewhat close to our Greek verb is: to cross the line.

Our verb occurs in the New Testament in 1 Timothy 3:1, 6:10 and Hebrews 11:16 only. But from it stem the following important derivatives:

  • The noun οργη (orge), which describes an instance of the verb in a way that is similar to how the noun "agreement" relates to the verb "to agree", or the noun "flight" to the verb "to flee". English has no suitable equivalent of our parent verb, so this derived noun is virtually untranslatable, but it describes "a crossing the line" or "an intentional thrust toward a phase transition". Since in the New Testament the emphasis of our noun appears to be the transition from a solid state (that is: a personal behavior or collective society based on rules and codes of conduct) to a liquid state (chaos, lawlessness, angry outbursts), a proper translation of our noun would be: liquation (make liquid), liquidation or outpour.
    Note that a phase transition commonly follows a period of accumulation (or de-cumulation), but that simply adding more of the same very often leads up to an asymptotic maximum that can't be crossed this way. A famous example of this is the speed of light, whose approach requires more and more energy for less and less acceleration, but which cannot be actually crossed by a spaceship that tries to cross it this way. Matter cannot cross this notorious barrier by adding energy, and only by adding complexity. This is where our minds come from, and why we humans can take strolls down memory lane or up future alley. Another more-of-the-same attempt to cross some kind of societal threshold is by adding more and more partners and make more and more love — and yep, that's where the word "orgy" comes from. Humans can't cross the Eros-barrier by adding more encounters, and only by adding complexity. This is where marriage and monogamy come from.
    This important noun is used 36 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, very often to describe an attribute of the Creator. This is not "wrath" as traditional translations demand, but rather God's "deliberate manipulation of humanity, so as to provoke a societal phase transition". Since in antiquity, a man's "will" was considered seated in his genitalia (and see our article on the Hebrew noun ירך, yarek, for a lengthy look at this), our noun also describes a man's ejaculation, particularly within his woman, and particularly as manifestation of his will to extend himself into a family with children. God is spirit and thus has no body, but he certainly has a ירך (yarek), see Psalm 45:3, and his ejaculation is of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-29).
    From this noun in turn derives:
    • The verb οργιζω (orgizo), to liquate (make liquid) from a previous solid state (i.e. a state based on a support structure, of certainties, of behavioral codes). In Matthew 5:22, Jesus warns not about the danger of being angry with one's brother but of manipulating him into a phase transition (because only God knows what's good for a person, and a person will make the jump when he's good and ready). Likewise, Matthew 18:34 speaks of a servant who vexed his master into a phase transition, namely from being solidly understanding and helpful into a state of liquid resentment and rejection. This verb is used 8 times, see full concordance, and from it comes:
      • Together with the preposition παρα (para), meaning near or nearby: the verb παροργιζω (parorgizo), meaning to drive someone to the very brink of a phase transition: to provoke or irritate someone until they are about to jump out of their skin (Romans 10:19 and Ephesians 6:4 only). From this verb in turn comes:
        • The noun παροργισμος (parorgismos), meaning a provocation or irritation that brings someone to their very limit (Ephesians 4:26 only).
    • The adjective οργιλος (orgilos), meaning prone to crossing the line, close to undergoing a phase transition (Titus 1:7 only). This adjective is often interpreted to describe volatility or proneness to anger, but it also describes the tendency of some enthusiasts to continuously shower their audiences in the seeds of their wisdom. Sometimes a farmer should just let the seedlings sprout and the lambs play, and rather fix the fence that keeps predators out.
  • The noun οργυια (orguia), which is a unit of length, particularly the length from hand to hand of one who stretches his arms (Acts 27:28 only). It's the same word as our English word "fathom", which stems via Latin from the Proto-Indo-European root pete-, to spread (hence too words like compass, expanse and passage). Both the Latin and the Greek equivalents are used most commonly by sailors to measure the depth of the water they are in, and water and sea-floor (and thus the shore) relate of course as states separated by a phase transition. Note too that Christ was crucified with his arms wide, again signifying phase transition.
  • The noun ορεξις (orexis), meaning a reach, or a phase transition from one state to the next: a liquefaction. This noun differs from οργη (orge) in that the latter describes an instance of the verb (comparable to "agreement" relative to "to agree"), whereas our noun ορεξις (orexis) describes the nature of it ("agreeability" relative to "to agree"). In the Greek classics this word is used to describe all kinds of yearning and appetite, which comes down to a transition between one's proper and well composed solid state to a liquid form, in which all restraints, decorum and support structures are dissolved. In the New Testament, this word occurs only once, namely in Romans 1:27, where it describes the "burning into the liquefaction" of males among males. This does not, as is often proposed, specifically condemn homosexuality but rather any kind of social interaction that entices men to abandon their reason, discipline and composure and embrace direction by their instincts and emotions. That such a situation may indeed lead to male orgies is implied, but is not limited to it. It certainly does not apply to an exclusive and well-considered relationship between two consenting adults, male or otherwise. See for more reflections on this topic our article on the adjective αρσην (arsen), meaning male.