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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Praise (2)

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1. Introductory.—Both in the OT and the NT the predominant idea of ‘praise’ is that of a tribute of homage in utterance, publicly expressed and rendered to God by His creatures. It forms the essence of worship, whether as offered by angels (cf. Luke 2:13-14; Luke 2:20, Revelation 14:6 f.). or men (cf. Luke 19:37 f.). The subject of this ‘praise’ is either the excellencies of God’s attributes and revealed nature (cf. esp. Revelation 19) or the beneficent action of His providence, as shown more particularly in creation, revelation, and redemption (thanksgiving); cf. Acts 2:47, Revelation 15:3 f. In the Gospels Jesus is sometimes the object of praise and homage (Matthew 21:16; cf. Luke 4:15), and Himself often dispenses praise for certain qualities of human nature or character (cf. Matthew 8:10; Matthew 11:11 etc.). The praise of man by man is usually applied in the Gospels to unreal and hypocritical commendation, and is condemned by Jesus (Matthew 6:1, Luke 6:26; cf. John 5:41-44; John 12:43).

2. Jewish usage.—In Jewish worship the element of praise occupies a dominant place, and has received rich and manifold expression. The title of the Bk. of Psalms in the Massoretic Text , Sepher Tĕhillîm* [Note: The title of one of the late (synagogal) Psalms is תְּחִלָּח לדוז, Psalms 146:1 (‘Praise-Song of David’).] (and its variants) = ‘Book of Praises or Praise-Songs,’ is an indication of the emphasis which was laid on the note of praise in later Jewish worship. This note is already prominent in the Psalter itself (cf. e.g. ‘O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel,’ Psalms 22:3). The close connexion existing between the ideas of praise and thanksgiving (cf. e.g. Psalms 100:4 ‘Enter his gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise’) has already been pointed out in this work (see art. Blessing, § 1). Indeed, thanksgiving (Heb. hôdâh)—esp. for God’s beneficence in creation, revelation, and providence—is an essential part of praise. If a distinction can be drawn, praise pure and simple is rather to be associated with extolling God’s perfections and holiness, while blessing (thanksgiving) is connected rather with thankful recognition of His goodness, beneficence, and mercy. But this is true only in a general sense; the two conceptions are so intimately related that one passes over into the other almost imperceptibly.

For the Hebrew terms employed with the meaning ‘praise’ and its cognates, reference may be made to the art. ‘Praise (in OT)’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible iv. 33 f. The most frequent are—חִלֵּל ‘praise’ (esp. in the liturgical formula חַללוּ־יָה = Hallelujah), חוֹדָה ‘give thanks’ (Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 ), בֵּרַךְ ‘bless,’ וִכֵּד ‘make melody’; rare synonyms are—שִׁבַּח’ ‘laud’ (but very frequent in Jewish liturgy), רוֹמֵם ‘exalt,’ נִּרֵּל, חִנְרִּיל ‘magnify.’ Cf. also such phrases as ‘Sing unto J″ [Note: ″ Jehovah.] a new song.’

In the Synagogue Liturgy the element of praise has received splendid expression. The most classical examples of this are perhaps the great ‘Benediction of Song’ (ברבח חשׁיר) [Note: Singer’s Heb.-Eng. Daily Prayer Book, pp. 36, 125–127. See also an art. by the present writer, ‘S. Peter in the Jewish Liturgy,’ in the ExpT [1903], xv. 93 f.] and the Kaddish. [Note: Singer, p. 37.] The former of these, in its shortest form, runs thus:

‘Be Thy name lauded for ever, O our King, the great and holy God and King, in heaven and on earth; for unto Thee, O Lord our God and God of our fathers, song and laud are becoming, praise and psalm, strength and dominion, victory, greatness and might, renown and glory, holiness and sovereignty, blessings and thanksgivings, from henceforth, even for ever. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, God and King, great in praises, God of thanksgivings, Lord of wonders, who makest choice of melodious song, O King and God, the Life of all worlds.’

In the Kaddish the following characteristic paragraph occurs:

‘Blessed, lauded, and glorified, exalted, extolled and honoured, magnified and praised be the name of the Holy One, Blessed be He; though He be high above all the blessings and songs, hymns of praise and consolation, which are uttered in the world.’

These are simply specimens of what pervades the entire Jewish Liturgy. In the Gospels the Angels’ Song of Praise (Luke 2:14) is an example of pure praise in worship, parallels to which arc to be found in the Apocalypse (Revelation 4:11; Revelation 7:12; Revelation 11:17; Revelation 14:7; Revelation 19:1 f.). In Rabbinical theology, it is to be noticed, prayer and praise form the spiritual counterpart and fulfilment of the old daily sacrifice in the Temple. The words of Hosea (Hosea 14:2), ‘We shall render as bullocks the offering of our lips,’ were interpreted in this sense. Spiritual worship thus becomes a ‘sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.’ Cf. Hebrews 13:15 (‘Through him’—i.e. Christ—‘let us otter up a sacrifice of praise’) with Westcott’s note; cf. also our Lord’s application of the words of Hosea 6:6 (‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice’) in Matthew 9:13; Matthew 12:7.

For the close connexion of prayer and praise—which are sometimes intermingled in the Jewish Liturgy, e.g. in the ‘Eighteen Blessings’—cf. Cheyne’s note on Psalms 42:9 (Book of Psalms [1888], p. 118 f.).

3. Usage in the Gospels.—The note of praise so characteristic of Jewish worship also pervades the Gospels. It is esp. prominent in the Third Gospel, where it appears not only in the Jewish-Christian Nativity-narrative (chs. 1, 2) [see Hymn], but also elsewhere (cf. Luke 19:37). It is noticeable how often the people (spectators, the assembled multitude) are represented as ‘praising’ or ‘glorifying’ God for some great exhibition of power wrought by Jesus (see below).

The Greek terms for ‘praise’ and its cognates used in the Gospels are—αἰνεῖν ‘praise’* [Note: ἐπαινέω occurs once in Gospels (Luke 16:8 of the unrighteous steward whose lord ‘commended’ him for his worldly wisdom) ἔπαινος, never in Gospels.] (Cf. διδόναι αἶνον τῷ θεῷ, Luke 18:43), used in LXX Septuagint for חוֹרָה לְ, חִלֵּל לִ; δόξα ‘glory,’ δοξάζειν ‘glorify’ (in LXX Septuagint δόξα most freq. = כָּבו̇ר; several times for חוֹר, חָדָר, etc.; δοξάζω usually = בִּבֵּר in LXX Septuagint ]; διδὀνιαι δόξαν τῷ θεῶ, Luke 17:18; εὐλογεῖν ‘bless’ [LXX Septuagint usually for ברך]; ἐξομολογεῖν ‘to celebrate,’ ‘give praise or thanks to,’ Matthew 11:25 and ||. See, further, art. Blessing, §§ 2 and 4.

The following formulas of praise are to be noted:

(a) The Angels’ Hymn (Luke 2:14)—

‘Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace among men of his goodwill.’

For the arrangement in two, not three, lines, cf. Plummer, Com. on ‘St. Luke’ in ICC [Note: CC International Critical Commentary.] , ad loc. Here ἐν[τοῖς] ὑψίστοις = בַּמְרוֹמִים ‘in the heavenly places,’ and refers to the adoration of the angels in heaven (cf. Psalms 148:1 LXX Septuagint : αἰνεῖτε αὐτὸν (τὸν κύριον) ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις; cf. Luke 19:38. With this should be compared the doxological form (ᾧ ἡ δόξαεἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας). See below, § 4.

(b) ‘Hosanna in the highest’; see art. Hosanna.

(c) ‘Blessed is …’; especially in the phrase, ‘Blessed is he that Cometh in the name of the Lord’ (εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὁνόματι Κυρίου), Matthew 2:19; Matthew 23:39, Mark 11:9, Luke 13:35; Luke 19:38, John 12:13. The use of ‘blessed’ (μαχάριος) in the Beatitudes is also notable; cf. also its use in personal address, Matthew 16:17 (Luke 11:27-28). To these may here be added—

(d) The use of the phrase ‘give God (the) praise’ (or ‘glory’): διδόναι δόξαν τῷ θεῷ = שׂים בבור ליהוה (נחן), and has various shades of meaning, according to the context—e.g. of thanksgiving for benefits received, Luke 17:18; by confession (of sin), John 9:24; cf. Joshua 7:19. The phrase is frequent in Rev. of celebrating God’s praises (Revelation 4:9; Revelation 11:13; Revelation 19:7).

The frequent mention in the Gospels of the multitudes as ‘praising’ or ‘glorifying’ God, esp. for the wonderful works wrought by Christ, is worth noting. It shows how deeply this element of public worship had impressed itself upon the popular mind and heart in Israel. A typical example is Matthew 9:8 (‘But when the multitudes saw it [the healing of the sick of the palsy], they were afraid, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men’). Cf. Mark 2:12, Luke 5:25-26, Luke 2:20 (shepherds) Luke 7:16; Luke 18:43, Luke 23:47 (the centurion at the cross); cf. also Luke 13:13 (healing of woman with spirit of infirmity: ‘and … she was made straight, and glorified God’); Luke 17:15 f. (healing of the ten lepers) is esp. notable, because the grateful one who returned to give thanks to Christ, combined his thanksgiving with ‘glorifying God.’ Our Lord’s words in this connexion are striking: ‘Were there none found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger?’ (Luke 17:18)—words which imply that the duty of grateful praise to God was not always fully recognized in individual practice.

Our Lord’s emphatic word about giving ‘glory’ to God (Luke 17:18) has already been referred to. As the spontaneous expression of a pure religious instinct, this would naturally be encouraged by Him whenever He met with it. According to John 5:41-44, He reproaches the Pharisees with seeking honour from one another rather than from God. But He does not hesitate to accept praise and homage offered to His own person when such is sincere and spontaneous (cf. Matthew 21:16). He dispenses praise in a manner implying a unique claim to appraise and publicly express moral judgments on human character: in this way He expresses His approbation of John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11), all acts of faith (Matthew 8:10; Matthew 9:22; Matthew 15:28; Matthew 16:8, Luke 7:9), good and loyal service (Matthew 25:11; Matthew 25:23, Luke 19:17), all generosity of gift (Mark 12:43; Mark 14:6), self-devotion (Luke 10:41), prudence (Luke 16:8).* [Note: Lock in Hastings’ DB iv. 38 (‘Praise [in NT]’), whose summary is here adopted.]

Outside the Gospels (viz. in the Epp.) the subject of Christian praise is, as is natural, mainly the great facts of redemption (cf. 1 Peter 2:10, Romans 15:9-11, Ephesians 1:3-14, etc.). Creation and redemption are combined in the Christian Liturgies.

4. Ascriptions of praise to Christ outside the Gospels.—It is noticeable that, in at least three (and possibly more) of the Apostolic doxologies, the address is directly to Christ, viz. 2 Timothy 4:18 (’The Lord … to whom be the glory,’ etc.); 2 Peter 3:18 (‘the grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory,’ etc.); Revelation 1:6 (‘him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins, … to him be the glory,’ etc.). Hebrews 13:21 and 1 Peter 4:11 are possible cases also. In two cases the ascription of glory to God is made through Christ, viz. Romans 16:27 (‘to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ’) and Judges 1:25 (‘to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, power’), etc. See, further, Westcott, Add. Note on Hebrews 13:21 (Com. p. 464 f.).

The doxology of the Lord’s Prayer is probably a later liturgical addition, inserted in the text of the Gospels, perhaps, under the influence of liturgical usage. See Chase, ‘The Lord’s Prayer in the Early Church’ (Texts and Studies), pp. 168–174, and art. Lord’s Prayer, p. 59b.

See, further, Blessing, Hallel, Hosanna, Hymn.

Literature.—In addition to the references in the text, see the Gr. Test. Lexicons of Grimm-Thayer and Cremer (s.v. δοξα).

G. H. Box.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Praise (2)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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Tuesday, November 24th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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