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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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LAME.—This word, perhaps originally meaning bruised, signifies a crippled or disabled condition caused by injury to or defect of a limb or limbs; specifically walking with difficulty, inefficient from injury or defect, unsound or impaired in strength. It is applied metaphorically to all kinds of inefficiency, such as inadequate excuses, or verses which offend against the laws of versification. The term embraces all varieties of defect in walking arising from various causes, and includes halting and maimed (see artt.), which are separate and distinct species of lameness.

The Greek word is χωλός, from obsolete χάω or χαλάω (to loosen, slacken), which is translation ‘lame’ in Matthew 11:5; Matthew 15:30-31; Matthew 21:14, Luke 7:22; Luke 14:13; but in other passages for no apparent reason the same word is translated ‘halt’ In John 5:3 χωλῶν is rendered ‘halt.’ without any indication that a special species of lameness is intended, where the description is quite general as in the above passages. In Mark 9:43-45 it is used synonymously with κυλλός, where ἀνάτηρος might have been expected in both cases, seeing that the injury referred to is the definite cutting off of the hand or foot. κυλλός is, however, most commonly associated with the hand, while χωλός more specifically has to do with lameness in the foot or feet. In Matthew 18:8 we have χωλὸν ἢ κυλλόν—transposed in the authorities followed by Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 , making the correspondence between χείρ and κυλλέν, and τοὺς and χωλόν.

Healing of the lame was a characteristic work of Christ. Among the multitudes that gathered round Him seeking restoration for various ailments were probably sufferers from many different kinds of lameness (as Matthew 15:30, Luke 7:22). John 5:3 gives a comprehensive list of such sick persons, including the feeble, the blind, the lame, and the withered (πλῆθος τῶν ἀσθενούντων, τυφλῶν, χωλῶν, ξηρῶν). Probably these miscellaneous cases would include those suffering from chronic rheumatism and from infirmities having a nervous origin, many of which resulted in a withering of the limbs and of the bodily frame. It is significant that Jesus is never said to have restored the ἀνάπηροι, the badly mutilated—deprived of their limbs (see Maimed).

T. H. Wright.

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

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