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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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‘Revelling’ is the translation of κῶμος (perhaps from κεῖμαι) in Romans 13:13 (Revised Version ), Galatians 5:21, 1 Peter 4:3. The Greek word denoted also a band of revellers. The κῶμος was a characteristic feature of Greek life. There was (1) the more regular and orderly κῶμος, the festal procession in honour of the victors at the games, partaking of the nature of a chorus. Most of Pindar’s odes were written to be sung at κῶμοι of this sort. And there was (2) the riotous κῶμος, the nocturnal procession of revellers, who ended their carousal on a festival-day by parading the streets with torches in their hands and garlands on their heads, singing and shouting in honour of Bacchus or some other god, and offering wanton insult to every person they met. In later Greek mythology, as we learn from the Εἰκόνες of Philostratus (3rd cent. a.d.), Comus was the god of festive mirth. Milton calls him the son of Bacchus and Circe, and puts into his mouth the words:

‘Meanwhile, welcomes joy and feast,

Midnight shout and revelry,

Tipsy dance and jollity.

What hath night to do with sleep?’

(Comus, 102 ff.).

With such pagan ideas in mind, St. Paul urges the Romans to ‘walk becomingly (εὐσχημόνως), as in the day; not in revelling and drunkenness’ (Romans 13:13). See R. C. Trench, Synonyms of the NT8, London, 1876, 61:, and article Drunkenness.

James Strahan.

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

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