CLAOTE: Biblical Use of Archaic English Terms

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Considering Lingual Aspects of the English
Biblical Use of Archaic English Terminology

 
Considering all of the information presented in the last three sections, where am I going with all of this?

It becomes vital to the development of the English Bible and the English language to realize that the archaic definitions of the English term “husband” and the term “wife” relate to the development of the English Bible.

The English term “husband” has been around about 1000 years, putting it back around AD/CE 1100. But in its archaic English use the term “husband” meant tiller of the ground or frugal manager.

The English term “wife” dates back to before AD/CE 900. But in the archaic English sense, the term was synonymous with the term “woman” even though the term “wife” started becoming associated with “marriage” at some point during Old English.

Recall that the Bible was first translated from the Latin into English during the 1300s.

Recall that the Bible was first translated from the Hebrew and Greek into English during the 1500s.

Those lingual and historical developments help us realize that the manner in which the archaic English readers read their English Bibles during the 13, 14, and 15 hundreds, read their Bibles with a significantly different understanding of the term “husband” and the term “wife” which affected the manner in which they translated the Bible and understood what the English Bible was conveying.

What that means is the following.

Five to eight centuries ago, the readers of the English Bible Translations understood the archaic definition for the term “husband” and the archaic definition for the term “wife”.

Five to eight centuries later, the readers of the English Bible Translations have no working knowledge of the archaic definition of the term “husband” and the archaic definition for the term “wife” and therefore only have a working knowledge of the modern specific definition for the term “husband” and the term “wife”.

That means that the manner in which those archaic English readers understood the term “husband” and understood the term “wife” was significantly different than how we currently understand those terms.

That means, it is possible that when the archaic English readers read Genesis 3.6 KJV “…and gave also unto her husband…” those archaic English readers probably did not interpret the term “husband” in a legal, religious, and/or social way.

Instead, those archaic English readers seem to have likely interpreted the term “husband” to mean that Adam was frugal and a tiller of the ground, especially when we accept that 500-800 years ago that agriculture, farm work, dominated the common understanding, cultivating the ground was common and one needed to be frugal with their labor.

Therefore, archaic English readers most likely did not interpret the term “husband” as defining their personal relationship, but those archaic English readers interpreted the term “husband” as defining Adam’s occupation, which is difficult to grasp when the modern definition of the term “husband” relates specifically to the personal relationship as a social status, with a legal and/or religious overtone.

This simply reveals the manner in which we have adjusted our use of the term “husband”. In former times, a man was a “husband” not because he was in a “marriage” but because he was a cultivator of the ground.

Yet, somewhere during the last 500-800 years, the additional definition as it pertained to “marriage” was brought in as a working definition, and supplanted the concept of tilling the ground, making archaic the definition of cultivator.

However, with a focus on the archaic definition of “husband” it does make sense that the term “husband” would come to be associated with “marriage”.

That is because whether a man was a frugal manager of the field or a frugal manager of the house, the archaic functional definition of the term “husband” aptly applied to both situations.

In other words, the man needed to be not only frugal, but also a tiller of the ground to provide for his family, and thus needed to be frugal in the management of his home.

However, as time marched forward, the definition of being a frugal manager along with the definition of being a cultivator fell into disuse.

Yet, the term “husband” remained, having a more singular definition applied to a man when specifically in a “marriage”.

Additionally, when archaic English readers read Genesis 2.25 KJV “And they were both naked, the man and his wife…” for them that passage possibly had two distinctive meanings.

One, those archaic English readers read the term “wife” being synonymous with the term “woman” making the text mean: “they were both naked, the man and his woman”.

Or two, those archaic English readers read “wife” as a term that had come to be associated with “marriage”.

Based upon the information about how the term “husband” and the term “wife” have changed in their use, then it is not only possible but also plausible that archaic English readers processed those terms in ways much different than we do, which simply means that the archaic English readers understood the English Biblical text in ways we do not readily see.

For some, that English lingual situation may not be readily accepted or even deemed plausible, and they might retort that the term “husband” has always meant “husband” and the term “wife” has always meant “wife” where both are solely defined in the legal, religious, relational, and social sense.

But, as I have shown through the historical information throughout this section, Considering Lingual Aspects of the English, those terms have not always meant the definitions that we rely upon in modernity.

That is why, while the English Bible retains the term “husband” and the term “wife”, the early English Bibles were utilizing those terms in ways we now define as archaic.

That means that while the English Bible retains those archaic terms, we read those archaic terms with specific modern definitions, which may or may not be supported by the Hebrew and Greek texts, which I will discuss in some detail in the section Considering Lingual Aspects of the Bible.

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