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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Nympha Nymphas

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In Colossians 4:15 (Authorized Version ) we read, ‘Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea and Nymphas and the church in his house.’ The proper name is found in the accusative case Νυμφαν, and may be masculine (Νυμφᾶν) or feminine (Νύμφαν). The feminine form Νύμφαν is Doric for Νύμφην, and Lightfoot (Colossians, p. 242) thinks it ‘in the highest degree improbable’ that such a Doric form should occur here; but similar forms occur in John 11:5 and Acts 9:38, while the contracted masc. accus. Νυμφᾶν for Νύμφαδα is very rare. The question is complicated by a variety of readings in the following clause. There is strong evidence for the reading ‘her’ house (αὐτῆς), which is adopted by WH [Note: H Westcott-Hort’s Greek Testament.] , Revised Version margin, Tr mg., and Ln; while T, Tr, L, and Revised Version read ‘their’ house (αὐτῶν). If the correct form be ‘her house,’ then the name is Nympha, and the bearer a woman of Laodicea in whose house a number of Christians met for worship. If this be the true solution, then Nympha was a woman of the same type as Prisca at Rome (Romans 16:3), or Lydia at Philippi (Acts 16:14). The reading ‘his house’ (αὐτοῦ) is found in several good Manuscripts -DFGKL; and if this be accepted, the name is Nymphas, which would probably be a contracted form of Nymphodorus, as Artemas for Artemidorus, Zenas for Zenodorus, and Theudas for Theodorus. The form Nymphodorus is found by no means infrequently, while Nymphas on the other hand occurs seldom. Other names of which Nymphas might be a contraction are suggested by Lightfoot, viz. Nymphius, Nymphicus, Nymphidius, Nymphodotus, the first and last being most common. The reading ‘their house’ leaves the form of the name uncertain and is probably due to a change made by a scribe who included ‘brethren’ in the reference, while a scribe might alter the fem. αὐτῆς to αὐτοῦ under the assumption that a woman could not be referred to in this way. The more difficult reading (αὐτῆς) is probably the correct one in this case, and if so, a woman, Nympha, is meant by the Apostle.

Literature.-J. B. Lightfoot, Colossians and Philemon 1:2, London, 1876, p. 242; A. S. Peake, in Expositor’s Greek Testament , ‘Colossians,’ do., 1903, p. 547. articles in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) and Encyclopaedia Biblica , s.v.

W. F. Boyd.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Nympha Nymphas'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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