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  • Psallo
    • Chris (no login)
      Posted Mar 22, 2006 1:09 AM

      Ken: Psallo NEVER means to play an instrument, much less does it mean SING and PLAY and name an instrument.

      Arndt & Gingrich – The original meaning of Psallo was ‘pluck’, ‘play’ (a stringed instrument); this persisted at least to the time of Lucian (cf Parasite 17)

      Ken: We readers know that Arndt made a bad mistake because HE JUST WANTED TO DO IT.

      Chris: The following letter was written by Gingrich in reply to Tom Burgess.

      Apr. 29, 1962
      The verb ya,llw “psallô” originally meant to “pluck” anything, then to play a musical instrument by plucking. It is true that by N.T. times the emphasis had shifted to “sing,” with or without instrumental accompaniment. The Liddell-Scott-Jones lexicon & Greek gives the meaning “sing to a harp” for the N.T. passages Eph. 5:19 and 1Cor 14:15. The Moulton and Milligan lexicon gives simply “sing” for the N.T. In our translation of Bauer’s lexicon, Dr. Arndt and I gave the meaning as “sing (to the accompaniment of a harp); meaning that the singing could be with or without accompaniment. It seems to me that you cannot exclude the possibility of accompaniment in the N.T. passages, since ya,llw still means "play on the harp" in Lucian, who wrote in the second century A.D. I must say that I regard this controversy over the matter as unimportant.
      Sincerely yours,
      F. W. Gingrich

      Wow, we see Gingrich referring to Lucian again. Strange that he did not mention the orgies related to the word psallein or that Lucian wrote in Attic.

      Thayer – b. …to twang the strings of a musical instrument…; and absolutely to play on a string instrument, to play the harp etc.

      Ken: You should NEVER too busy to quote the WHOLE truth.

      In the N.T. to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praise of God in song, Jas.5:13; Eph.5:13; Rom.15:9; 1 Cor.14:15 .

      Chris: I had absolutely no doubt that you would complete the quotation for me. But I wished you did more. That sentence ‘In the NT to sing…’ is supposed to inform that psallo no longer includes IM?

      Suffice to say, Thayer uses letters like ‘a’ and ‘b’ to distinguish between two definitions while The American Heritage Dictionary uses numbers instead. And ‘In the N.T. to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praise of God in song,’ is under ‘b’ defined as ‘to cause to vibrate by touching, to twang,…and absolutely to play on a stringed instrument…

      But let us look at the word psalmos in Thayer’s work. Thayer repeats what he defined in the word ‘psallo’, ie, ‘a striking, a twanging…; spec. a striking the chords of a musical instrument; hence a pious song, a psalm. Then Thayer points us to Bishop Lightfoot’s commentary on Colossians. What do we see?

      Thayer’s reproduced Lightfoot’s commentary on Col 3:16 in the word ‘hymnos’.

      [Syn. u[mnoj( yalmo,j( wv|dh,: wv|dh, is the generic term; yalm. and u[mn. are specific, the former designating a song which took its general character from the Old Testament ‘Psalms’ (although not restricted to them. see 1Co. xiv. 15, 26), the latter a song of praise. “While the leading idea of yalm. is a musical accompaniment, and that of u[mn. praise to God, wv|dh, is the general word for a song, whether of praise or on any other subject. Thus it is quite possible for the same song to be at once u[mnoj( yalmo,j and wv|dh” (Bp. Lightft on Col. 3:16). The words occur together in Col. 3:16 and Eph. 5:19. See Trench, Syn. § lxxviii.]

      While the leading idea of psalm is a musical accompaniment, hymns praise to God…’ (More of the same later). Thus, how do we get the idea that ‘In the NT to sing…’ means singing without IM?

      I looked at AT Robertson’s ‘Word Pictures in the New Testament’ vol 4 page 505.

      “With Psalms (psalmois, the Psalms in the OT originally with musical accompaniment), hymns (hymnois, praises to God composed by the Christians like 1 Tim 3:16), spiritual songs (oidais pneumatikais, general description of all whether with or without instrumental accompaniment). The same song can have all 3 words applied to it.”

      Please notice the similarities between Robertson’s and Lightfoot’s definition.

      Payne, O. E., Instrumental Music is Scriptural, 1920, pp 281-283 mentions an interview he had with AT Robertson.

      “Responding to the questions as to the meaning of psallo, and whether, just prior to the New Testament period, it had lost it's earlier meaning 'to sing,' the Doctor reached to the shelves in his study which contain, perhaps, three thousand volumes which specialize in relation to his profession, got a book, and, for answer to my twofold query, read as follows, translating the Greek text as he proceeded.

      370 A. D. Gregory of Nyssa on Psalm 103 (I., p. 295).

      Psalm (psalmos) is the melody through the musical instrument (the organon).

      Song (ode) is the melody (melos) or music with words which takes place by means of the mouth.

      Hymn (humnos) is the praise offered to God for the good things that we possess.”

      Henry Alford in his commentary on Ephesians refers to the comments of Gregory of Migne Vol I, page 493:

      "The psalm [psalmos] is the melody produced on the musical instrument.

      The song [ode] is the utterance of the melody through the mouth with words.

      Hymn [humnos] is the praise offered to God for the good things that we possess."

      This will be my final post on the issue. God bless you.

      I can be contacted at

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