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walls of catacombs, etc., in which these two letters
stood for the name of Christ. At a subsequent
period the practice became universal all over the
Christian world, and countless examples are still
extant to prove the general popularity of this

In most cases the letters are accompanied by
other symbols and titles of the Master, e.g.
yjf' ; in a few examples they stand alone as a
reverent way of representing the presence of the
Redeemer. Most numerous in the period from
A.D. 300-500, they decline in number and import-
ance during the early Middle Ages, and are rare, at
least in the West, after the 7th and 8th centuries.
It is significant to note that in none of those
hundreds of examples do the letters (often rudely
scrawled by poor peasants) refer to any one but
Jesus Christ. It is hard to conceive of any fact
more suited to emphasize the deep-rooted belief of
the early Christians in the true Divinity of their
Lord and Master, who had created the world,
existed from the beginning, and was still alive and
ready to succour His faithful followers.

LITERATURE. R. H. Charles, art. in EDB ; B. W. Bacon,
art. in DCG ; K. Kohler, art. in JE ; W. Miiller in PR2
(full account of extant inscriptions); C. Schoettjren, Hor. Heb.,
Leipzig, 1733. L. ST. ALBAN WELLS.

ALTAR. In the NT, as in the LXX, the usual

term for ' altar ' is dwiaffTripiov a \vord otherwise
confined to Philo, Josephus, and ecclesiastical
writers while PU/J.OS, as contrasted with a Jewish
place of sacrifice, is a heathen altar. The most
striking example of the antithesis is found in 1 Mac
I 54 ' 5 ". Antiochus Epiphanes erected a small altar
to Jupiter ' the abomination of desolation ' (v. 64 )
upon the 0vffia<rr^piov of the temple, and ' on the
twenty-fifth day of the month they sacrificed upon
the idol-altar (^wyttoj) which was upon the altar
of God (6v<ria<rTripioi>).' The NT contains only a
single distinct reference to a pagan altar the
^w/xos which St. Paul observed in Athens bearing
the inscription 'AyvuffTy Gey (Ac 17 23 ).

1. The altar on which sacrifices were presented
to God was indispensable to OT religion. Alike in
the simple cultus of patriarchal times and the ela-
borate ritual of fully developed Judaism, its posi-
tion was central. The altar was the place of
meeting between God and man, and the ritual of
blood the supposed seat of life was the essence
of the offering. Whatever details might be added,
the rite of sprinkling or dashing the blood against
the altar, or allowing it to flow on the ground at
its base, could never be omitted. The Levitical
cultus was continued in Jerusalem till the destruc-
tion of the Temple by the Romans in A.D. 70, and
the attitude and practice of the early Jewish-
Christian Church in reference to it form an interest-
ing and difficult problem. It has been generally
assumed that, when our Lord instituted the New
Covenant in His own blood (Mk 14 24 , Lk 22 20 ), He
implicitly abrogated the Levitical law, and that,
when His sacrifice was completed, the disciples
must at once have perceived that it made every altar
obsolete. But there is not wanting evidence that
enlightenment came slowly ; that the practice of
the Jewish-Christian Church was not altered sud-
denly, but gradually and with not a little misgiving.
Hort observes that ' respecting the continued ad-
herence to Jewish observances, nothing is said
which implies either its presence or its absence'
(Judaistic Christianity, 42). But there are many
clear indications that the first Christians remained
Jews McGitfert (Apostol. Age, 65) even suggests
that they were ' more devout and earnest Jews
than they had ever been ' continuing to worship
God at the altar in the Temple like all their
countrymen. ' They had no desire to be renegades,
nor was it possible to regard them as such. Even
if they did not maintain and observe the whole
cultus, yet this did not endanger their allegiance.
. . . The Christians did not lay themselves open to
the charge of violating the law' ( Weizsacker, Apostol.
Age, i. 46). They went up to the Temple at the
hour of prayer (Ac 3'), which was the hour of sacri-
fice ; they took upon themselves vows, and ottered
sacrifices for release (21 ao - 21 ) ; and even St. Paul,
the champion of spiritual freedom, brought sacri-
fices (irpoff<popfa) to lay on the altar in the Holy City
(24 17 ). The inference that the New Covenant left no
place for any altar or Mosaic sacrifice is first expli-
citly drawn by the writer of Hebrews (see TEMPLE).

2. Apart from a passing allusion to the altars
which were thrown down in Elijah's time (Ro II 3 ),
St. Paul makes two uses of the dva-iaa-T^piov in the
Temple. (1) In vindicating the right of ministers of
the gospel to live at the charge of the Christian
community, he instances the well-known Levitical
practice : ' those who wait upon the altar have their
portion with (<rvfj./j.eplfoi>Tai) the altar ' (1 Co 9 13 ), part
of the offering being burnt in the altar tire, and part
reserved for the priests, to whom the law gives the
privilege 'altaris esse socios in dividenda victima'
(Beza). Schmiedel (in loc.) thinks that the refer-
ence may be to priests who serve ' am Tempel der
Heiden wie der Juden,' but probably for St. Paul
the only Owiaffrfyiov was the altar on which sacrifice




was offered to the God of Israel. (2) In arguing
against the possibility of partaking of the Eucharist
and joining in idolatrous festivals, St. Paul appeals
to the ethical significance of sacrifice, regarded not
as an atonement but as a sacred meal between God
and man. The altar being His table and the sacri-
fice His feast, the hospitality of table-communion
is the pledge of friendship between Him and His
worshippers. All who join in the sacrifice are par-
takers with the altar (KOIVUVOI TOV 6vffia.ffTr)plov), one
might almost say commensals with God. ' Accord-
i ng to antique ideas, those who eat and drink together
are by the very act tied to one another by a bond
of friendship and mutual obligation ' ( W. R. Smith,
Rel. Sem. 2 , 247). How revolting it is, then, to pass
from the altar of God or, by parity of reasoning,
from the rpairtfa TOV Kvpiov, to the orgies of pagan
gods, the Tpairefa Saifj-oviuv.

3. The writer of Hebrews refers to the old Jewish
altar and to a new Christian one. (1) Reasoning
somewhat in the manner of Philo, he notes the
emergence of a mysterious priest from a tribe which
has given none of its sons to minister at the altar,
and on this circumstance bases an ingenious argu-
ment for the imperfection of the Levitical priest-
hood, and so of the whole Mosaic system (He 7 13 ).
(2) Against those Christians who occupy themselves
with (sacrificial) meats the writer says : ' We have
an altar, whereof they have no right to eat who
serve the tabernacle ' (13 10 ). Few sentences have
given rise to so much misunderstanding. '"Exojw
can only denote Christians, and what is said of them
must be allegorically intended, for they have no ry
ffKijvy \arpevovTes, and no Ovciacrr^piov in the proper
sense of the word ' (von Soden). The point which
the writer seeks to make is that in connexion with
the great Christian sacrifice there is nothing corre-
sponding to the feasts of ordinary Jewish (or of
heathen) sacrifices. Its TI/ITOS is the sacrifice of the
Day of Atonement, no part of which was eaten by
priest or worshipper, the mind alone receiving the
benefit of the offering. So we Christians serve an
altar from which we obtain a purely spiritual ad-
vantage. Whether the writer actually visualized
the Cross of Christ as the altar at which all His
followers minister, like \eirovpyoi in the Tabernacle,
as many have supposed is doubtful. Figurative
language must not be unduly pressed.

The writer of Rev., whose heaven is a replica of
the earthly Temple and its solemn ritual, sees
underneath the altar the souls of martyrs the
blood poured out as an oblation (cf. Ph 2 17 , 2 Ti 4 6 )
representing the life or ^i/x^? and hears them cry-
ing, like the blood of Abel, for vengeance (Rev
6 9 - 10 ; cf. En. 22 5 ). In 8 3 and 9 13 the tfi/o-icKmfciov is
not the altar of burnt-offering but that of incense
(see INCENSE). In 14 18 the prophet sees an angel
come out from the altar, the spirit or genius of fire,
an Iranian conception ; and in 16 7 he personifies
the altar itself and makes it proclaim the truth and
justice of God.

LITERATURE. I. Benzinger, Heb. Arch., Freiburg, 1894, p.
378 f. ; W. Nowack, Heb. Arch., Freiburg, 1894, ii. 17 f . ;
A. Edersheim, The Temple, its Ministry and Services, London,
1874; Schurer, HJP, 11. i. 207 f. ; W. R. Smith, Rel. Sern.2,
London, 1894 ; J. Wellhausen, Regie arab. Heidenthums,
Berlin, 1887, p. 101 f. ; A. C. McGiffert, Apostol. Age, Edinb.
1897, p. 36 f.; C. v. Weizsacker, Apostol. Age, 2 vols., London,
1894-95, L 43ff. JAMES STRAHAN.

AMBASSADOR. Although this word occurs
twice (2 Co 5 20 and Eph 6 20 ) in the EV of the NT,
the corresponding Greek noun (irp(cr^evr^s) occurs
nowhere. Instead, we find the verb irpffffievu, ' to
be an ambassador,' while the cognate collective
noun (RV 'ambassage') is used in Lk 14 32 19 14 .*

* >rpe(r/3<rv'ui and jrpeo-0evr>J9 were the recognized terms in the
Greek East for the Legate of the Roman Empire (Deissmann,
Light from the Ancient East*, 1911, p. 379).

In the OT the idea behind the words translated
' ambassador ' (generally mal'dkh) is that of going
or being sent, and of this the etymological
equivalent in the NT is not ' ambassador ' but
'apostle' (&w6o-To\os, 'one sent forth'); but both
the OT terms and the NT oTroVroXos have to be
understood in the light of use and context rather
than of derivation. In this way they acquire a
richer content, of which the chief component ideas
are the bearing of a message, the dealing, in a re-
presentative character, with those to whom one is
sent, and the solemn investiture, before starting
out, with a delegated authority sufficient for the
task (cf. Gal I 15 '").

The representative character of ambassadorship
is emphasized by the repeated virtp, ' on behalf of,'
in 2 Co 5 20 , with the added ' as though God were
intreating by us.' The same preposition (inrtp)
occurs in Eph 6 20 ; thus irpeo-pevu is never found
in the NT without it. So also in Lk 14 32 19 14 the
context shows that the irpeo-pela. is representative.

There is no very marked difference between
'ambassador' and 'apostle.' irpeo-pevu, having
n-pto-fivs (' aged') as its stem, does suggest a certain
special dignity and gravity, based on the ancient
idea of the vastly superior wisdom brought by
ripeness of years. Probably, however, St. Paul
was not thinking of age at all, for irpeo-pevu had
lived a life of its own long enough to be independ-
ent of its antecedents. His tone of dignity and of
pride springs not so much from his metaphor as
direct from his vividly realized relation to God :
inrtp is more emphatic than irpeo-ftevu. It is in
exactly the same tone that he claims the title
'apostle' (see, e.g., Gal I 1 , 1 Co 9 1 IS 9 ' 10 ) ; cf. Gal
I 15 '-, where his ' separation to preach ' expresses the
same thought in yet another form. Nevertheless,
his is a humble pride, for only grace has put him
in his lofty position (cf. 1 Co 15 9 *-). Moreover, his
commission is not to lord it over others, but to
' beseech ' them ; nay, God Himself only ' intreats '
(2 Co 5 20 ). It is He who seeks ' arrangements for
peace' with men (cf. Lk 14 32 ). On the n-peo-^vT-rjy
of Philem 9 (AV and RV 'the aged,' RVm 'an am-
bassador') see art. AGED. C. H. W ATKINS.

AMEN. The lack of a common language has
always been a barrier to the mutual knowledge and
intercourse of the great nations of mankind, all the
more that the days when the educated men of
all European nations were wont to converse in
Latin have long since passed away. To a certain
extent the gulf has been bridged for men of science
by a newly-invented vocabulary of their own, and
a general use of Latin and Greek names for all the
objects of their study. In the world of religion
it still remains a great obstacle to all attempts to
realize a truly catholic and universal Church. The
Latin of the Roman Catholic missal, which seems
so unintelligible to the mass of the worshippers that
a sign language (of ritual) is largely the medium
by which they follow the services when not ab-
sorbed in the reading of devotional manuals in
their ow r n mother tongue, is but a caricature of
such a general medium of interpretative forms of
worship. It is, therefore, a matter of great interest
to study the use of those few words of ancient
origin which have taken root in the religious lan-
guage of so many great Christian nations, and
have come to convey, in all the services where they
are used, the same or a similar meaning. Of these,
perhaps the most familiar are the words ' Amen '
and ' Hallelujah.' These old Heb. phrases were
taken, of course, from the Bible, where, save in
the case of Luther's edition and the LXX version
of the earlier books of the OT, no attempt has been
made to replace them by foreign equivalents.
They have a deep interest for Christians, not




merely as a reminder of their essential unity and
their ancient history, and as a recollection of the
debt which we owe to a race so often despised, but
as a reminiscence of the very words which came
from our Lord's own mouth, in the days when He
was sowing the seed of which we are reaping the

A brief examination of the history of the word
' Amen ' will be sufficient to prove the meaning
which it had, the way in which it acquired this
meaning, and the certainty that it was one of the
very words which fell from the Master and had
for Him a message of rare and unusual signifi-
cance. The original use of the word (derived from
a Heb. root JDK, meaning ' steadfast,' and a verb,
' to prop,' akin to Heb. nag, ' truth,' Assyr. tenienu,
'foundation,' and Eth. amena, 'trust' [Arab, ami-
nun=' secure ']) was intended to express certainty.
In the mouth of Benaiah (1 K I 36 ) and Jeremiah
( Jer 28 6 ) it appears as first word in the sentence,
as a strong form of assent to a previous statement.
It was not till after the Exile that it assumed its
far commoner place as the answer, or almost the re-
frain in chorus, to the words of a previous speaker,
and as such took its natural position at the close
of the five divisions of the Psalms. It is uncertain
how far this formed part of the people's response
in the ritual of the Temple, but it is certain that
it acquired a fixed place in the services of the syna-
gogues, where it still forms a common response of
the congregation. This was sometimes altered
later, in opposition to the Christian practice, and
' God Faithful King ' was used instead. The ob-
ject of this use of ' Amen ' was, in Massie's words,
'to adopt as one's own what has just been said'
(HDR i. 80), and it thus finds a fitting place in the
mouth of the people to whom Nehemiah promul-
gated his laws (Neh 5 13 ). To express emphasis,
in accordance with Hebrew practice the word was
often doubled, as in the solemn path of Nu 5 22 (cf.
Neh 8 s ). This was further modified by the inser-
tion of ' and ' in the first three divisions of the
Psalter. ' Amen ' later became the last word of
the first speaker, either as simple subscription as
such it stands appended to three of the Psalms
(41, 72, 89), and in many NT Epistles, after both
doxologies (15 times) and benedictions (6 times in
RV) or as the last word of a prayer (RV only
in Prayer of Manasses ; but 2 others in Vulgate,
viz. Neh 13 31 , To 13 18 ). In two old MSS of Tobit
(end), as in some later MSS of the NT, it appears by
itself without a doxology. The later Jews were
accustomed to use ' Amen ' frequently in their
homes (e.g. after grace before meals, etc. ), and laid
down precise rules for the ways of enunciating and
pronouncing it. These are found in the Talmudic
tract B e rakhoth ('Blessings'), and are intended to
guard against irreverence, haste, etc. So great
was the superstition which attached to it that
many of the later Rabbis treated it almost as a
fetish, able to win blessings not only in this life
but in the next ; and one commentator, Eliezer ben
Hyrcanus, went so far as to declare that by its
hearty pronunciation in chorus the godless in
Israel who lay in the penal fires of Gehenna might
one day hope for the opening of their prison gates
and a free entrance into the abode of the blessed,
though Hogg suggests that this sentiment was
extracted from a pun on Is 26 2 (Elijahu Zutta, xx. ;
Shab. 1196; Siddur B. Amram, 136; cf. Yalk. ii.
296 on Is 26 2 ).

' Amen ' would naturally have passed from the
synagogues to the churches which took their rise
among the synagogue-worshippers, but the Master
Himself gave a new emphasis to its value for Chris-
tians by the example of His own practice. In this,
as in all else, He was no slavish imitator of con-
temporary Rabbis. He spoke ' as having authority

and not as the scribes' (Mk I 22 ), and in this capa-
city it is not surprising that He found a new use
for the word of emphasis, which neither His pre-
decessors nor His followers have ventured to imi-
tate, though the title applied to Him in Rev 3 14 is
founded upon His own chosen practice. In His
mouth, by the common evidence of all the Gospels
(77 times), the word is used to introduce His own
words and clothe them with solemn affirmation.
He plainly expressed His dislike for oaths (Mt 5 s4 ),
and in Dalman's view (Words of Jesus, 229) and
no one is better qualified to speak on the subject
He found here the word He needed to give the
assurance which usually came from an oath. But
in doing this ' He was really making good the word,
not the word Him,' and it is therefore natural that
no other man has ever ventured to followHis custom.
That it was His habitual way of speaking is doubly
plain from a comparison of all four Gospels, even
though St. Luke, who wrote for men unacquainted
with Hebrew, has sought where possible to replace
the word by a Greek equivalent (dXijfltDj, etc. ). St.
John has always doubled the word, probably for
emphasis, since Delitzsch's explanation from a
word 'DK= ' I say ' is shown by Dalman (p. 227 f.)
to be wrong and based on a purely Babylonian

The rest of the NT presents examples of all the
older uses of the phrase, though the earliest is
found only in the Jewish Apocalypse (Rev 7 12 19 4 )
which has probably been worked up into the Chris-
tian Book of ' Revelation,' and in one passage
(22 30 ) christianized from it. Here it is perhaps a
conscious archaic form, brought in to add to the
mysterious language of the vision, which may
originally, like the Book of Enoch or Noah, have
been ascribed to some earlier seer. The language
of St. Paul in 1 Co 14 16 shows that the synagogue
practice of saying ' Amen ' as a response early be-
came habitual among the worshippers of ' the
Nazarene,' even if we had not been led to infer
this by the growing reluctance of the Jews to em-
phasize this feature of their service. The use
(? Jewish) in Rev 5 14 corresponds with this custom
(cf. Ps 106 48 ). It is plain that the complete abserce
of the word in Acts itself a link with the Third
Gospel must be ascribed to the peculiar style and
attitude of the author, and not at all to the actual
practice in the churches.

Twice in the NT (2 Co I 20 , Rev 3 14 ) the word
' Amen ' is used as a noun implying the ' Faithful
God,' but it is hard to tell whether this is to be
understood as a play on words based on Is 65 16
(nag, 'truth,' being read as JEN, 'Amen'), or
whether it is connected w r ith the manner in which
the Master employed the phrase as guaranteed by
His own authority and absolute ' faithfulness.'

The Church of the Fathers made much of the
word ' Amen ' in all its OT uses, and introduced it
into their services, not only after blessings, hymns,
etc. (cf. Euseb. iv. 15, vii. 9), but after the reception
of the Sacrament a custom to which Justin refers
in his [the earliest] account of the manner in
which this service was conducted (Apol. i. 64, 66).
This is confirmed by Ambrose. The practice is
still in vogue in the Eastern Church, was adopted
in the Scottish Liturgy of 1637, and dropped only
in the 6th cent, by the Western Church. Some-
times the 'Amen' was even repeated after the
lesson had been read. From the Jews and the
Christians it passed over to the Muhammadan
ritual, where it is still repeated after the first two
suras of the Qur'an, even though its meaning is
wholly misunderstood by the Muslim imams who
guess at various impossible explanations. In the
Book of Common Prayer it appears in various
forms as the end of the priest s prayer, as the
response of the people, or as the unanimous assent




of both priest and people. Curiously enough,
among Presbyterians it is said by the minister
only. One relic of the Gospel language is retained
in the Bishops' Oath of Supremacy, which com-
mences almost in the style of one of Christ's
famous declarations. In legal terminology the
term has been introduced to strengthen affirmation,
and formed an item in the ' style ' of proclamations
until the 16th century. Hogg notes that in Eng-
lish, as in Syriac, it has come to mean ' consent,'
and has been enabled thus to acquire the sense of
'the very last,' even though it commenced its
career as first word in the sentence.

The foregoing remarks may enable the reader
to judge of the strange changes to which the mean-
ing of this word has been subjected, the important
part it has played, and the historical interest which
attaches to its every echo.

LITERATES. The artt. in HDB, DOG, EBi, and JE; G.
Dalman, The Words of Jesus, Eng. tr., Edinb. 1902, p. 226 ff. ;
H. W. Hogg, in JQR ix. [1896] 1-23; Oqf. Heb. Lex., s.v.
JDK; Grimm-Thayer, s.v. a^v, artt. in ExpT viiL [1897] 190,
by Nestle, and xiii. [1902] 563, by Jannaris.


AMETHYST (d/^0wrros, Rev 21 20 ). A variety
of quartz of rock-crystal, of purple or bluish violet
colour. Derived from d, 'not,' and p^dvaKeiv, 'to
intoxicate,' it was regarded as a charm against the
effects of wine. Quaffed from a cup of amethyst,
or by a reveller wearing an amulet of that sub-
stance, the vine-juice could not intoxicate. This
wa^s doubtless a case of sympathetic magic, wine
being amethystine in colour. In the LXX (Ex 28 19 ,
etc. ) ' amethyst ' stands for ahlamah, a stone which
was regarded as a charm against bad dreams. The
amethyst was used as a gem-stone by the ancient
Egyptians, and largely employed in classical an-
tiquity for intaglios. Naturally it was often en-
graved with Bacchanalian subjects. Being com-
paratively abundant, it is inferior in price to true
gems, and is not to be confounded with the oriental
amethyst, a variety of corundum, or sapphire of
amethystine tint, which is a very valuable gem of
great brilliancy and beauty. JAMES STRAHAN.

AMOMUM (Afitafj-ov, perhaps from Arab, hamma,
' heat '). An aromatic balsam used as an unguent
for the hair, made from the seeds of an eastern
plant which has not been identified with certainty.
Josephus (Ant. XX. ii. 2) speaks of Harran as 'a
soil which bare amomum in plenty,' and Vergil
(Eel. iv. 25) predicts that in the Golden Age
'Assyrium vulgo nascetur amomum.' The word
came to be used generally for any pure and sweet
odour. In Rev 18* 3 AV (with B K c ) omits the word ;
RV (with X *AC) accepts it and translates 'spice'
(RVm ' Gr. amomum '). The term is now applied
to a genus of aromatic plants, some species of which
yield cardamoms and grains of paradise.


AMPHIPOLIS (A.n<t>liro\u). This Macedonian
city played an important part in early Greek
history. Occupying an eminence on the left bank
of the Strymon, just below the egress of the river
from Lake Cercinitis, 3 miles from the Strymonic
Gulf, it commanded the entrance to a pass leading
through the mountains into the great Macedonian
plains. It was almost encircled by the river,
whence its name ' Amphi-polis.'

Thucydides (i. 100) says that the Athenians
' sent 10,000 settlers of their own citizens and the
allies to the Strymon, to colonize what was then
called the "Nine Ways" ("EiWa odoi), but now
Amphipolis.' It was the jewel of their empire,
but they lost it in 422 B.C., and never recovered
it. It was under the Macedonian kings from 360
till the Roman conquest of the country in 167 B.C.
The Romans made it a free city and the capital of

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