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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Jairus

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JAIRUS.1. The name Ἰάειρος occurs in Mark 5:22 and in the Lukan parallel (Luke 8:41), but not in Mt. (Matthew 9:18). Such variants as Ἰάηρος, Ἰάιρος, Ἰάϊρος (as Cod. א) are also to be met with in the MSS [Note: SS Manuscripts.] . It cannot be positively identified with the Heb. name יָאִיר (as in Judges 10:3, = prob. ‘Jahweh enlightens’), the LXX Septuagint equivalent of which is variously Ἰαείρ, Ἰαήρ, Ἰαΐρ by simple transcription. In favour of regarding Ἰάειρος as the Grecized form of the Heb. name is the fact that this form occurs in LXX Septuagint in Esther 2:5 for יָאִיר, the father of Mordecai (Cod. A, by a curious slip, has ἰατρός), as also in the Apocrypha (Est 11:2), where the Authorized and Revised Versions has ‘Jairus’ as the name of the same person. In any case, however, analogy permits the adoption of ‘Jair’ as the English equivalent of Ἰάειρος; and were the name in familiar vogue, like such names as ‘Paul,’ this would naturally be its form. The Authorized Version ‘Jairus’ follows the Vulgate (Wyclif, ‘Jayrus’). Note the Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 ‘Jaïrus,’ fixing it as a trisyllable; and cf. other modes of transcription, as e.g. ‘Jaeirus’ (Twentieth Cent. NT, ed. 1904).

Cheyne (Ency. Bibl. ii. s.v.) regards the name as unauthentic, ‘the spontaneous invention of a pious and poetic imagination.’ He rejects its identification with OT יָאִיר, and yet he does not hesitate to explain it by reference to יָצִיר, simply because the meaning of the latter term, as he gives it (‘he will awaken’), suits his theory of a fanciful creation to fit the drift of the story. This is quite arbitrary and precarious. (Note, the name יָצִיר occurs in 1 Chronicles 20:5 as the Keé; Authorized and Revised Versions ‘Jair’).

2. Jairus is described in Mk. as εἶς τῶν ἀρχισυναγώγων (Mark 5:22) and similarly afterwards as ἀρχισυνάγωγος. Lk.’s ἄρχων τῆς συναγωγῆς (Luke 8:41) is perhaps simply explanatory of this term which he himself uses later (Luke 8:49). Mt. has ἄρχων alone (Matthew 9:18); but there is no need to suppose that this is intended to represent Jairus as a member of the Sanhedrin, or in any other capacity than that indicated in the other Gospels. The brevity and conciseness of the form in which Mt. gives the story probably explain this loose use of ἄρχων. Wyclif’s ‘prince’ here is due to the Vulgate princeps, and elsewhere he invariably uses ‘prince of the synagoge’ as = ἀρχισυνάγωγος. The Vulgate, however, uses archisynagogus in the Markan passage, whilst in Luke 8:49 it has principem synagogae, perhaps through the influence of the phrase in Luke 8:41. The Gr. term exactly = the Heb. title רא̇שׁ הַכּנֵסֵח, and the office held by Jairus had well-defined functions. Pre-eminently the ‘ruler’ (al. ‘president’ or ‘leader’) was the director of public worship. Schürer holds that generally there was ‘but one archisynagogus for each synagogue’ (HJP [Note: JP History of the Jewish People.] ii. ii. 65). The expression used in Mark 5:22 quite agrees with this, as it describes the class to which Jairus belonged (one of the ‘synagogue-rulers’ or ‘synagogue-presidents’) rather than a particular body of ‘rulers’ of which he was a member. The locality of the synagogue in which he held office is not definitely indicated. See artt. Ruler and Synagogue.

3. In the triple narrative in which Jairus figures, Mark 5:21-43 = Matthew 9:18-26 = Luke 8:40-56, the condensed form of Mt.’s account is most noticeable. In addition to the omission of the ruler’s name and the loose use of ἄρχων (see above), there is no mention of the servant who met our Lord and Jairus on the way with the news that the child was dead (Mark 5:35 = Luke 8:49). In harmony with this, whilst Mk. says she was in extremis (ἐσχάτως ἔχει), and Lk. that she ‘was dying’ (ἀπέθνησκεν), when her father came to Jesus, Mt. represents her as already dead (ἄρτι ἐτελεύτησεν). Perhaps, as a matter of structure, the prefatory link in Matthew 9:18 may be compared with the phrase in Mark 5:35 (= Luke 8:49) ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος, with a bearing on this point.

Cheyne thinks the Mt. form of the story the most original, and explains the representation in Mk. on this point as due to the feeling of a later time that no one would have had a sufficiently bold faith to ask Jesus to restore one who was already dead. So far as that goes, however, the Markan account is parallel with the situation in the story of Lazarus (John 11); and we have no other instance in the Gospels besides this in Mt. of a request that one dead should be restored to life. Compression still best accounts for the form in Matthew. The account of the actual restoration to life is also given with the greatest brevity.

The effort to explain this incident as a case of restoration from trance is not quite successful. Mk.’s narrative would admit of such an interpretation, but Lk.’s definite phrases in vv. 53, 55 distinctly fix the sense otherwise. In the primitive tradition the daughter of Jairus was believed to have been brought back from death to life. The story as a whole is full of grace and beauty, and ‘belongs to the earliest stratum of the Gospel tradition’ (Cheyne, Ency. Bibl. ut supra).

J. S. Clemens.

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

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