Gospel or ευαγγελιον in OT

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Floyd Johnson | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Jul 21 2021 4:03 AM

I was asked how was "gospel" or "ευαγγελιον" understood prior to it being applied to Christ in the NT. Did it have a religious connotation or was it merely used to refer to family or social events of some sort. Are there tools in LOGOS that could help me answer that question?

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Floyd

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Damian McGrath | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 21 2021 4:29 AM

I tried factbook for gospel and got directed to the Lexham Theological Wordbook article which gives some good info

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 21 2021 4:39 AM

In a book whose very purpose requires it to be glutted with prophecy and detail about the proper pattern of worship of the Creator God, it seems pretty nigh unto inevitable that every subject has a "religious" connotation. Of course, just what is meant by the term "religious" is (for well or ill) up for debate, since there are rubes galore who have tarred the word "religion" in an effort to somehow make it adversarily dichotomous with the notion of "relationship".

That foolishness aside, if you have TWOT and/or TDOT, I would study the word baasar ( בָּשַׂר ), which is the Hebrew equivalent. If you have TDNT, you should study euangelion, because it often takes the discussion of Greek words back to their OT synonyms. Before or after that, you should just do concordance searches on both terms and read them in context and decide for yourself what its connotations are.

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DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 21 2021 6:02 AM

Agree with David ... separating 'religious' from a secular or a social context is largely modern (1500s?).

Not being helpful, but illustrating, just yesterday, Sargon I was 'good news'ing' from the gods (akkadian). What was interesting was the use of cup-bearer to the gods representing the transmission as king.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 21 2021 6:09 AM

Here is the summary of baasar from TDOT...it seems to address your concern.

The height attained in Trito-Isaiah would be complete if we could find in bśr the basis for the NT key word euangélion, “gospel” (to say something about the later history of this word). Unfortunately, the noun besorah is not used in Isa. 61:1, and we do not know which intermediate Aramaic word Jesus used when he spoke of the “good news of the kingdom” (Mt. 4:23). However, in light of the quotation of Isa. 61:1 in Lk. 4:18f. and its adaptation to Jesus there, it is probably not far wrong to regard the translation of bśr by the Gk. deponent verb euangelízesthai in the LXX as the basis for the key word euangélion. In summary, it can be said that the theologico-religious usage of bśr confirms to a great extent the established secular sense of “bringing glad tidings” and develops this in relation to the message of salvation.

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DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 21 2021 7:15 AM

David Paul:
theologico-religious usage of bśr confirms to a great extent the established secular sense of “bringing glad tidings”

In TDOT tradition, the gentleman starts off approximately correct. Then at the last minute, jumps to what he really wanted ('good' news). TLOT doesn't mince words (nor Logos for that matter, in the right-click glossing). Both Syriac and Aramaic don't necessarily demand 'good' news ... the subsequent content implies the 'good'.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 21 2021 7:51 AM

TWOT is in the fundamentally "neutral" camp while TDOT & TDNT are in the fundamentally "good" camp w/ regard to baasar. Their approaches resemble "half empty" vs. "half full" disputation. Folks interested should consult, consider, and decide for themselves.

A point not fully explored is the "zero sum" nature of the "news" in any given situation. In other words, what is "good" for one party often is "bad" news for another party. For instance, some people thought anticipated "good news" was the death of Absalom, while for David "good news" was that he (hopefully) lived. 

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David Thomas | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 21 2021 10:36 AM

Floyd Johnson:
how was "gospel" or "ευαγγελιον" understood prior to it being applied to Christ in the NT

BDAG's entry begins with common usage BEFORE Christian literature:

εὐαγγέλιον, ου, τό (s. prec. entry; Hom. et al.; LXX, TestSol D 1:13; ApcSed 14:9; Joseph., Just., Mel.) orig. ‘a reward for good news’, then simply ‘good news’ (so Plut., Sertor. 573 [11, 8]; 582 [26, 6], Phoc. 749 [16, 8]; 752 [23, 6] al.; Appian, Bell. Civ. 3, 93 §384; 4, 20 §78; Ps.-Lucian, Asin. 26; Jos., Bell. 2, 420; 4, 618; 656; IG III, 10 = II2, 1077 [OWeinreich, ARW 18, 1915, p. 43, 3]; papyrus letter [after 238 A.D.] in Dssm., LO 313f [LAE 371]=Sb 421.—Also in sacral use: Diod S 15, 74, 2 Διονύσιος τοῖς θεοῖς εὐαγγέλια θύσας=offered a sacrifice for good news to the gods; OGI 458=IPriene 105, 40f ἦρξεν δὲ τῷ κόσμῳ τῶν διʼ αὐτὸν εὐανγελίων ἡ γενέθλιος τοῦ θεοῦ [s. AHarnack, Red. u. Aufs. I2 1906, 310ff; PWendland, ZNW 5, 1904, 335ff, D. urchristl. Literaturformen 1912, 409f]; Philostrat., Vi. Apollon. 1, 28 of the appearing of Apollon.; Ael. Aristid. 53, 3 K.=55 p. 708 D.: Ζεὺς Εὐαγγέλιος)

William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 402.

Then the rest of BDAG's entries focus on usage within Christian literature.

The BOLD above is my emphasis for easy location. As I understand it - any time a courier returned to the King with news of a victory it was declared "euangelion" The messenger was tipped (also known as Euangelion) and frequently a sacrifice (also known as a euangelion) was made to the gods in thanksgiving fore the victory.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 21 2021 12:25 PM

David Thomas:
BDAG's entry begins with common usage BEFORE Christian literature:

While there is nothing wrong with looking at how the Greek of the NT was used previously in order to establish historical usage contexts, it doesn't help much in trying to determine semantic domains for baasar in TaNaKh:. The word in Greek literally has the meaning of "good" attached to it in the prefix eu-. Finding "good news" in a "message" deliberately called "good" is inevitable. There is no such definite qualifier apparent in the Hebrew root. Whether the sense of "good" is "natural" or "infused" (by common usage or perhaps theological predisposition) is something that has to be extracted from evidence.

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Allen Browne | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 21 2021 6:42 PM

Floyd Johnson:
I was asked how was "gospel" or "ευαγγελιον" understood prior to it being applied to Christ in the NT. Did it have a religious connotation or was it merely used to refer to family or social events of some sort. Are there tools in LOGOS that could help me answer that question?

Hi Floyd

Searching primary sources

Start with a Bible Word Study (Guides menu) on the word gospel. The pie chart for Greek words shows it's mainly εὐαγγέλιον and εὐαγγελίζω.

Click on them in the pie-chart, and under the pie-chart it shows where that word is found in the NT. Right-click the word in the NT (ESV or whatever translation suits), and search Bible. This opens a list of the verses in the NT. At the top of this window, change the Bible you’re searching in to The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint: Rahlfs Edition.

This gives you the places where the LXX uses εὐαγγελίζω. For the noun, search for: <Lemma = lbs/el/εὐαγγέλιον>

I suggested the Lexham LXX, because it links to the Hebrew words. You can then pursue the words that the LXX translated with εὐαγγελίζω.

This is original research so it does take some time if you’ve never done it. I use this approach often, usually checking the TDNT and TDOT to see what I missed.

Searching secondary sources

An obvious source would be to see what background is provided by Bible dictionaries such as Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (IVP, 2013).

There are also monographs such as Scot McKnight's King Jesus Gospel (Zondervan, 2011)

And here's a hint. Do a Basic Search on the resources in your library for: Augustus NEAR gospel

That should help you find references to Rome’s “gospel” claims. For example, this is from Jewett’s Romans a Commentary (Hermeneia, 2006) 138:

The imperial cult celebrated the “gospel” of the allegedly divine power of the emperor, viewing him, in the words of an official document from the province of Asia, as

… a savior (σώτηρ) who put an end to war and will restore order everywhere: Caesar, by his appearing has realized the hopes of our ancestors; not only has he surpassed earlier benefactors of humanity, but he leaves no hope to those of the future that they might surpass him. The god’s birthday was for the world the beginning of the gospel (εὐαγγέλιον) that he brought.

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