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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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DOUBT (from Lat. dubitare , ‘to hold two (opinions),’ ‘hesitate’). 1. In AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘doubt’ (vb. and noun) six times renders a Gr. vb. meaning ‘to be at a loss’ or ‘quite at a loss’; in all these instances except John 13:22 RV [Note: Revised Version.] substitutes ‘ perplexity ,’ following the AV [Note: Authorized Version.] rendering of Luke 9:7 ; Luk 24:4 , 2 Corinthians 4:8 . In this sense ‘doubt’ is now nearly obsolete; as it is in the meaning riddle, knotty question , which it bears in Daniel 5:12 ; Daniel 5:16 . Not dissimilar is its use in the AV [Note: Authorized Version.] of John 10:24 (‘make us to doubt’), where RV [Note: Revised Version.] , more literally, reads ‘hold us in suspense.’ Quite archaic also is the use of ‘doubt’ for ‘suspect,’ instanced in Sir 6:13 (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ). 2. Elsewhere ‘doubt’ has a religious signification, standing in express or tacit antithesis to ‘faith’ (wh. see). ( a ) In Matthew 21:21 , Mark 11:23 , Acts 10:20 ; Acts 11:12 , Romans 14:23 , James 1:6 (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), Judges 1:22 (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), it stands for a vb. signifying ‘to be divided in mind (judgment)’ the same Gr. word is rendered ‘staggered’ in AV [Note: Authorized Version.] , ‘wavered’ in RV [Note: Revised Version.] , of Romans 4:20 ; ( b ) in Matthew 14:31 ; Matthew 28:17 ‘to be of two opinions,’ ‘to waver,’ is the force of the original: the vb. above indicates (1) more subjectively, (2) more objectively, a state of qualified faith , of faith mixed with misgiving, something between whole-hearted faith and decided unbelief. Thus wavering, faith is robbed of its power; hence such hesitation, in regard to Christ and the promises and commands of God, is strongly deprecated and reproved. In the above examples the doubt, affecting the mind of a believer, arises from contradictory circumstances or conscientious scruples; unless this be the case in Matthew 28:17 (cf. Luke 24:38 , noticed below), it has none of the quality of rationalistic doubt or scepticism. ( c ) Akin to the above is the expression of Luke 12:29 , where ‘of doubtful mind’ (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] , RV [Note: Revised Version.] ) is the rendering of an obscure Gr. word that seems to mean being lifted into the air , and so agitated, held in suspense or driven by gusts (cf. Ephesians 4:14 , James 1:4-6 ). ( d ) Another group of expressions remains: Romans 14:1 ‘doubtful disputations’ (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ), ‘decisions of doubts’ (RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ); 1 Timothy 2:8 ‘disputing’ (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ) or ‘doubting’ (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ) = ‘reasoning’ ( Luke 24:38 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ); ‘disputings’ ( Philippians 2:14 ). In these passages arguing, questioning is intended, and (in Ro.) matter of argument, debatable questions . This usage lies on the border between 1 and 2 ; for the questions referred to, except in Luke 24:38 , did not directly belong to faith, but their agitation disturbed and tended to weaken it.

G. G. Findlay.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Doubt'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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