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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Conversation

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kon -vẽr -sā´shun ( ἀναστροφή , anastrophḗ , ὁμιλία , homilı́a ): This word is another illustration of the changes which time makes in a living language. The modern sense of the term is mutual talk, colloquy, but in the King James Version it never means that, but always behavior, conduct. This broader meaning, at a time not much later than the date of the King James Version, began to yield to the special, limited one of today, perhaps, as has been suggested, because speech forms so large a part of conduct. The New Testament words for "converse" in the modern sense are homiléō (Luke 24:14 , Luke 24:15; Acts 20:11 ) and sunomilḗō (Acts 10:27 ).

(1) In the Old Testament the word used to indicate conduct is דּרך , derekh , "way" the course one travels (the King James Version Psalm 37:14; margin Psalm 50:23 ). It is the common Hebrew idea of conduct, possibly due, as Hatch thinks, to the fact that in Syria intercourse between village and village was so much on foot, with difficulty on stony tracks over the hills, and this is reflected in the metaphor.

(2) In the New Testament the idea of deportment is once rendered by trópos , "Let your conversation be without covetousness" (Hebrews 13:5 the King James Version; the Revised Version (British and American) "be ye free from the love of money"; the Revised Version, margin "let your turn of mind be free"). But the usual Greek word is anastrophē , "a turning up and down," possibly due to the fact, as Hatch again avers, that life in the bustling streets of Athens and Rome gave rise to the conception of life as quick motion to and fro. "Ye have heard of my conversation" (Galatians 1:13 the King James Version; the Revised Version (British and American) "manner of life"). So also Ephesians 4:22; 1 Timothy 4:12; Hebrews 13:7; "Let him show out of a good conversation" (James 3:13 the King James Version; the Revised Version (British and American) "by his good life"); "vexed with the filthy conversation" ( 2 Peter 2:7 the King James Version; the Revised Version (British and American) "lascivious life"); "holy conversation" ( 2 Peter 3:11 the King James Version; the Revised Version (British and American) "holy living"); "Our conversation is in heaven" ( Philippians 3:20 the King James Version; the Revised Version (British and American) "citizenship" (which see)). See also in the Apocrypha (Tobit 4:14; 2 Macc 5:8).

The translations in the Revisions put a wholesome emphasis upon conduct, and eliminate the danger of much misunderstanding. See further Hatch, Essays in Biblical Greek .

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Conversation'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/c/conversation.html. 1915.

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