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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Gangrene

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(Gr. γάγγραινα, ‘an eating, spreading sore,’ from γραίνειν, ‘to gnaw,’ Authorized Version ‘canker.’ Two very early translations of 2 Timothy 2:17 may be cited: ‘Ase holi writ seiò, “hore speche spret ase cauncre” ’ [Ancr. Rules, 98, ann. 1225; see ‘canker’ in OED [Note: ED Oxford English Dictionary.] ]; ‘The word of hem crepith as a kankir’ [Wyclif, Bible, ed. 1382; changed to ‘canker’ in 1388 ed. The Vulgate has ‘ut cancer’]).-Until about a.d. 1600, ‘canker’ signified corroding ulcerations generally, and was earlier derived from Italian and medical Latin cancrena. ‘Gangrene’ is the term applied to necrosis or mortification of a part of the animal body, attacking especially the extremities, which, as it moves upward, unless arrested, involves more and more healthy tissue, and finally results in death. In its figurative use it symbolizes anything that slowly but surely and malignantly corrupts, depraves, and consumes what is good. The cause of the ‘gangrene’ referred to in 2 Timothy 2:17 is incipient Gnosticism, which subverted the Christian teaching concerning the resurrection, alleging that it had occurred already, in opposition to the belief of the apostles that the resurrection was future, being not merely spiritual but involving the whole man. In James 5:3 ‘cankered’ in the Authorized Version is in the Revised Version translated ‘rusted.’

C. A. Beckwith.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Gangrene'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/g/gangrene.html. 1906-1918.

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