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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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BOANERGES.—In Mark 3:17 we read that Christ ‘gave to James and John name(s) Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder’ (καὶ ἐπέθηκεν αὐτοῖς ὄνομα [v.l. ὀνόματα] Βοανηργές, ὅ ἐστιν υἱοὶ βροντῆς).* [Note: The MSS give: βοανηργεςא AB, etc., βοανεργης D, βοανεργες EF, etc.] The equation Boanerges = ‘sons of thunder’ presents two difficulties: (a) the Hebrew בִּנַי does not naturally give rise to the two vowels οα; (b) no known Hebrew or Aram. [Note: Aramaic.] root rgs or rgsh has the meaning ‘thunder.’ A third difficulty might be added, that the title Boanerges, whatever its meaning, does not accurately correspond to ὀνομα(τα), ‘name(s). [Note: ὁυουατα is read by א AC, etc., ὀνομα is the reading of BD.] If the Evangelist be right in saying that the original title meant ‘sons of thunder,’ we must suppose that Βοανη or Βοανε is due to inaccurate transliteration of בִּנִי, or to a conflation of two readings with a single vowel (see Dalm. Gram.2 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] p. 144). But the difficulty as to ργες = βροντή remains. Jerome (on Daniel 1:7) thought that Boanerges should be emended into Benereem = בִּנִי רֽעִס. In that case the s is a mistake on the part of the Evangelist or his copyists for m. Others prefer to think that the original title was בִּנִי רְנַז = ‘sons of wrath,’ or בְּנַי רְנַשׁ = ‘sons of tumult,’ and that υἱοὶ βροντῆς is an inaccurate translation on the part of the Evangelist. The Syriac Version (Sinaiticus) unfortunately gives us no assistance. It transliterates Bĕnai Ragsh or Ragshi, and omits the explanation ὅ ἐστιν υἱοὶ βροντῆς (see Burkitt, Evangelion da-Mepharreshe, i. 181, ii. 280). It is possible, however, that the corruption lies deeper than this. Just as Dalmanutha (Mark 8:10) is probably a corruption of an Aramaic proper name (see Burkitt, ii. 249), so Boanerges may be a fusion of two names answering to the ὀνόματα. In that case the Evangelist, misreading or mishearing his Aramaic original, has fused two names into one, and has tried to give a rough translation of the word thus formed. The first name might be בַנּי (Banni), בַנַּי (Bannai), or בּ֖נּי (Bunnai). Curiously enough, the Babylonian Talmud gives Bani as the name of one of the disciples of Jesus (Bab. [Note: Babylonian.] Sanh. 43a). For the second name we offer no conjecture. See, further, John, James.

Literature.—Encyc. Bibl. art. ‘Boanerges’; Expositor, iii. x. [1889] 332 ff.

W. C. Allen.

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

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