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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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or the use of one or two initials for the whole of a word. These first occur, in a Scriptural connection, on some of the Maccabaean coins (Bayer, De nummis Hebraeo-Samaritanis), and in a few MSS. of the O.T. (especially יי for יְהוָֹה ). They have been frequently resorted to for the purpose of explaining supposed discrepancies or various reading, both in words (Eichhorn, Einleit. ins A. T. 1:323; Drusius, Quaest. Ebraic. 3, 6) and numbers (Vignoles, Chronologie. pass.; Capellus, Critica Sacra, 1:10; Scaliger, in Walton's Prolegomena, 7:14; Kennicott's Dissertations), on the theory that letters were employed for the latter as digits (Faber, Literae olim pro vocibus adhibitoe, Onold, 1775), after the analogy of other Oriental languages (Gesenius, Gesch. d. fleb. Sprache, p. 173). In later times the practice became very common with the Rabbins (Selig's Compendia vocum Hebraico - Rabbinicarum; also Collectio abbreviaturarum Hebraicarum, Lpz., 1781), and was abused for cabalistical purposes (Danz, Rabbinismus Enucleatus). An instance of its legitimate numerical use occurs in Revelation 13:18 (Eichhorn, Einleit. ins N.T. 4:199), and the theory has been successfully applied to the solution of the discrepancy between Mark 15:25, and John 19:14 (where the Greek γ [gamma=3] has doubtless been mistaken for ς [stigma=6]).

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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Abbreviation'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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