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Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology

Pride

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The Old Testament . While pride is sometimes used in the Old Testament in a positive sense (i.e., the "pride" of the land of Israel [ Psalm 47:4; Ezekiel 24:21 ] or, God's "pride/majesty/excellency" [ Exodus 15:7; Job 37:4; Isaiah 2:10 ]), its negative sense predominates, occurring in sixty-one texts. "Pride" is found mainly in the prophets and the books of poetry.

The main Hebrew root is gh [ גֵּאָה ]; the most common term is gaon [ גָּאֹון ], which occurs a total of twenty-three times. Included are the ideas of arrogance, cynical insensitivity to the needs of others, and presumption. Pride is both a disposition/attitude and a type of conduct.

A synonym gaba [ Isaiah 2:11,17 ). There is pride of the eyes (Psalm 101:5; Isaiah 5:15 ); of the heart (Ezekiel 28:2,5,17 ); of the spirit (Proverbs 16:18; Ecclesiastes 7:8 ); and of one's mouth/speech (1 Samuel 2:3 ). A classic text includes the words "pride," "conceit," "arrogance," and "haughtiness" (Jeremiah 48:29 ).

Fifteen Old Testament texts (NIV ) contain the word "arrogance, " nearly half of them (7) in the prophets (Isaiah 2:17; 9:9; 13:11; Jeremiah 13:15; 48:29; Ezekiel 7:10; Hosea 5:5; 7:10 ). Five references are in poetical texts (Job 35:12; Psalm 10:2; 17:10; 73:8; Proverbs 8:13 ), and three others are found in Deuteronomy 1:43; 1 Samuel 2:3; 15:23 .

What constitutes a "proud" person? The negative sense points to a sinful individual who shifts ultimate confidence from God to self. In the Wisdom literature, "the proud" are distinct from "the righteous" and "the humble." Here the term is applied to non-Israelites, rather than to Israel. The Septuagint uses hyperephanos [ Psalm 119:21,51; Proverbs 3:34 ). When the prophets accuse Israel of pride (Jeremiah 13:9; Ezekiel 7:10,20; 16:56; Hosea 5:5; 7:10; Amos 6:8; 8:7; Zephaniah 2:10 ), the word hybristes [ ὑβριστής ] connotes a wanton, insolent person. Thus, in the Old Testament books, the prideful are generally associated with the wicked, the arrogant, the presumptuous, and those who are insolent toward God.

Most of the adjectives joined with "pride" in the Old Testament are negative in connotation, including words such as "stubborn" (Leviticus 26:19 ), "overweening" (Isaiah 16:6 ), "willful" (Isaiah 10:12 ), and "great" (Jeremiah 13:9 ). In one instance the positive phrase "everlasting pride" describes the status of a restored Zion (Isaiah 60:15 ). Most of the synonyms give a negative sense: contempt (Psalm 31:18 ); wrongdoing (Job 33:17 ); trust (Psalm 62:10 ); arrogance (Proverbs 8:13; Isaiah 2:11,17; 9:9 ); insolence (Isaiah 16:6 ); and conceit (Jeremiah 48:29 ). An exception is "glory" (Isaiah 4:2 ).

Finally, in the Old Testament, what are some of the results of pride? It led to Uzziah's downfall (2 Chronicles 26:16 ); it hardened the heart of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 5:20 ); it goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18 ); it does not seek God (Psalm 10:4 ); it brings disgrace (Proverbs 11:2 ); it breeds quarrels (Proverbs 13:10 ); it deceives (Jeremiah 49:16; Obadiah 1:3 ); it brings low (Proverbs 29:23; Isaiah 2:11; 23:9 ); it humbles (Isaiah 2:17; Daniel 4:37 ).

The New Testament . In the New Testament, the abstract use of hybris [ Acts 27:10,21; 2 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Timothy 1:13 ). The word hyperephanos [ Mark 7:22; Luke 1:51 ) and four times in the Epistles (Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5 ). In its Greek background, the word meant overweening, arrogant, haughty.

mr 7:22 includes arrogance in a list of vices, the only such example in the Gospel texts. (Two other lists are found in Paul's letters [1:29-31; Galatians 5:19-23 ]).

God opposes the proud (Proverbs 3:34 ). Both James (4:6) and Peter (1 Peter 5:5 ) cite this Old Testament text, including the word hyperephanos [ Romans 1:30 ) includes hybristes [ ὑβριστής ], one who behaves arrogantly toward those who are too weak to retaliate.

Finally, a remarkable example of hyperephanos [ Luke 1:51 ). Using language largely from the Old Testament, Mary tells how God will scatter the proud—possibly a reference to a specific group in society and political life. They are characterized by suppressing the masses, the poor and humble in Israel. God will overthrow them and exalt the lowly. While his wrath is upon the proud, he will visit the humble in grace.

Walter M. Dunnett

Bibliography . G. Betram, TDNT, 8:295-307,525-29; V. P. Hamilton, TWOT, 1:143.


Copyright Statement
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by Walter A. Elwell
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Book House Company, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49516-6287.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
For usage information, please read the Baker Book House Copyright Statement.

Bibliography Information
Elwell, Walter A. Entry for 'Pride'. Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/bed/view.cgi?n=567. 1996.

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