About meanings

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allegorical: not the literal sense but portraying spiritual truths metaphorically without
reference to any actual historical events or people.
anachronistic: not using technically accurate terminology for the time period. An example
is reading NT terms or place names back into the OT context.
apocalyptic: a type of biblical literature that is a dramatic, visionary, depiction of the
ultimate cosmic victory of God over evil, using imagery that is significant to that time and
culture, such as is used in the book of Revelation.
Apocrypha: books considered authoritative scriptures (sacred writings) by Roman
Catholicism but not by Protestants or Jews and are called deutero*canonicals
by the Catholics.
apologetic: referring to making a defense for someone or something, especially for the
canonical: referring to the set of books historically accepted by Christians as God’s
authoritative written Word.
CE and BCE: current politically correct broad era abbreviations—Common Era (formerly
AD, referring to time since the birth of Christ) and Before the Common Era (formerly BC,
before Christ).
Christological: having to do with the truth, doctrines, or the message of Christ.
cosmology: a theory/belief about the origin, nature, and composition of the universe.
Covenant / Testament: These terms originally referred to a “formal agreement” (Hebrew
berith, Greek diatheke, Latin testamentum) between two parties, with obligations on each
side and consequences for breaking the agreement. “Testament” is later also used to
refer to the written “covenants” between God and the Jewish and/or Christian people, as
contained in the “Old Testament” and/or the “New Testament” (see Jer 31:31; Luke
22:20; Heb 8:7–9:17).
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criticisms—especially higher criticism, also called historical criticism, and textual criticism:
various scholarly methods of analyzing the Scriptures in their historical, cultural, and
literary context. Often the scholars who have developed these approaches to the text
have treated the Scriptures as strictly human documents, with no allowance for the
supernatural or divine revelation and divine supervision of the writing process. It is
important to be clear that textual criticism is a narrow term for the study of the existing
copies of the Bible texts for the purpose of proposing the original wording where there
are variations among the copies.
cultic: in biblical studies, a reference to public worship practices such as sacrifices and
the Dead Sea Scrolls: Jewish religious and Old Testament Scripture documents, existing
mostly in pieces, found in the area of the Dead Sea in Israel, mostly from caves at
Qumran, dating from the period of 250 BC to AD 70.
the Decalogue: the Ten Commandments.
second, secondary, or following after; deuterocanonical
refers to certain
books written subsequent to the original Hebrew Old Testament canon, which are
accepted by Roman Catholicism but not by Protestants or Judaism (often called the
Apocrypha*); deuteroPauline*
refers to a belief that some letters traditionally accepted
as by Paul were really not written by Paul but by someone after him, and so are
secondary to the “true” Pauline epistles*.
Diaspora: the Jews scattered around the ancient world living out away from the Promised
Land due to the exile* and the Greek conquest.
doxological: having to do with expressing praise and glory to God.
ecclesiastical: having to do with the earthly institution of the church.
ecclesiological: having to do with the theology of the church.
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ecumenical: involving various denominations and groups of Christians in unified efforts.
epistles: books of the New Testament that are letters, written by an apostle or an
eschatology, eschatological: having to do with the theology of last things and the divine
conclusion of history. The adjective is also used by scholars for a reference to God
breaking into time and intervening in the world to accomplish His ultimate purpose.
the Eucharist: the Lord’s Supper, Communion.
exegesis, exegetical: dealing with the process of interpreting a text and bringing out the
meaning intended by the author. This process applies the principles for how to do this,
which is called hermeneutics*.
the exile: the taking away of a major part of the people of Israel from the Promised Land,
first the northern tribes to Assyria (722 BC), then later Judah to Babylon (605 BC),
because they had been unfaithful to the Lord.
the exodus: the deliverance of the 12 tribes of Israel, under the leadership of Moses,
from slavery in Egypt, by God, through the miraculous parting of the Red Sea. It is the
great salvation event in their history, recorded in the book of Exodus.
exposition: explaining or elaborating on one’s interpretation of a text, especially to relate
it to people’s lives.
the fall: the event of Adam and Eve’s selffocused
disobedience which broke the
relationship between them and God and lost their original, sinless, and ideal, condition,
resulting in all humans being born without a relationship with God and separated from
His presence, tending to be selfish, hurtful to others, and contrary to God, headed for
physical and eternal death and thus needing God’s gift of salvation.
figuratively: not literal but rather intended to be understood differently from what is
normally expected when reading or hearing the words.
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genre: a type of literature with common characteristics, including style, purpose, and
even general subject matter, such as the biblical genres of poetry, narrative, and
grammatical terms— students must understand what is meant by a: clause;
conjunction; direct object; genitive; imperative; interrogative; nominative; participle;
passive voice; predicate; and preposition. (See dictionaries or grammar books for the
ones you do not know.)
hermeneutics: the principles of how a reader gets meaning from a text.
homiletics: the subject/discipline of preparing and preaching sermons.
hyperbole: exaggeration used to make a point.
idiom: a combination of words that expresses a certain idea in a way that is different from
the sum of the literal words and that is unique to that language/culture.
immanent: near in space, especially used of the truth that God is all around all of us and
permeates everything.
imminent: near in time, used of an event, such as the Second Coming of Christ, which
could happen at any moment.
inerrancy: the belief that the Bible is without error in what God intended to communicate
through the writers.
the Kingdom (of God): the active reign of God as King/Lord, beginning through Christ in
the lives of Christians and coming fully over all the world when Christ returns. It involves
God’s supernatural involvement in His people’s lives. It does not refer strictly to a place
or a people— to the church—because the church is the subjects of the Kingdom not the
Kingdom itself.
lexicon: a scholarly dictionary of an ancient language like Greek and Hebrew.
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liturgical: having to do with liturgy, the formal rituals of public worship.
manuscripts: hand written documents/copies.
Mesopotamia: the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Middle East (Iraq,
today) where the most ancient civilizations began and flourished, including Babylon.
Messianic: having to do with the Messiah, the Christ, the promised Savior in the
overarching story/message/universaltruth
that ties everything together.
metaphor, metaphorical: describing someone or something in terms of something else,
emphasizing certain characteristics, a kind of comparison but using “is,” such as saying
someone “is a bear to live with” or “Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.”
metaphysical: dealing with what is real, the philosophy of the nature of reality. It also may
be a reference to what is beyond what one can perceive with the physical senses.
Millennium: the teaching based on Revelation 20 of a 1000 year reign of Christ on the
earth, with Satan bound, when the earth has been redeemed from the curse, at the end
of history. It is associated with passages describing a kind of return to Eden as an ideal
conclusion to the history of the earth. The belief that Christ’s Second Coming comes
before it is called premillennial; that Christ comes after it is postmillennial; and that it is
not a later, literal, physical, reign but is spiritual and already happening, is amillennial.
Pauline: something related to, characteristic of, usually authored by, the apostle Paul.
Pentateuch: the first five books of the Bible, also called the Torah by the Jews,
understood to be written or dictated by Moses.
pericope: a distinct passage or literary unit of Scripture often used for liturgical* readings.
pneumatological: dealing with the Spirit.
polemical: aggressively refuting an idea or teaching.
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Scripture: Originally just meaning “writings,” “scripture” now almost always refers to
religious writings that are considered authoritative, foundational, and/or sacred by some
religious group (see Matt 26:5456;
Luke 24:2745;
2 Tim 3:16; 2 Peter 3:16). Thus, there
are not only Jewish scriptures and Christian scriptures, but also Muslim scriptures, Hindu
scriptures, etc.
the Second Coming: the coming back to earth of the risen Christ to end history as we
know it, bring judgment on those who reject him, and establish his eternal kingdom for all
who follow him.
semantics: the subject of the meanings of words and how those meanings or uses
overlap among words.
semitic: broadly, an ethnic and linguistic group of peoples mostly in the Middle East,
including Arabs and Jews and several of the ancient peoples of the Old Testament world
such as the Babylonians.
Septuagint: the name for the Greek translation of the OT, done by Jews within the Greek
culture of Alexandria Egypt, from about 250 150
BC. This is one of the earliest
translations and was the Bible of the Early Church. The symbol for it is LXX because of a
Jewish tradition that it was translated by 70 Jewish scholars.
simile: an explicit comparison of one thing to another such as “we are like sheep.”
soteriological: having to do with salvation.
synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which present the story of Jesus in similar
ways, including much of the same material.
syntax and syntactical: the relationship between words in a sentence, a reference to the
combination and order of the words, which produces the meaning.
theocratic: referring to a theocracy, a nation ruled by God (the only true one was Israel).
theodicy: the subject of the justice of God

The above information was borrowed from the following resources:
For an even more comprehensive list of helpful terms related to Biblical Studies
and Theology, please visit the above links.