Dreams In The New Testament Research Paper

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William Chong Period 1 Greek 12/15/14 Dreams in the New Testament The Greek word for dream, most commonly known as “ὄναρ”, has appeared numerous times throughout the Greek history, yet strangely enough is only used six times in the entirety of the New Testament. Ironic of its limited appearance, “ὄναρ” has a significant connotation in the ancient text’s vernacular. Whether in a classic epic poem or the Bible, “ὄναρ” brings about a divine sense of supernatural intervention often accompanying situations in which people dream in their sleep. In this paper I will examine the use of the word “ὄναρ” within the context of the New Testament, discuss the ancient world’s views on dreams, and analyse the various authors’ decision to use or overlook the…show more content…
The first step was to find a couple lexicons/dictionaries to get a reference to the etymology of the word and its uses throughout the Greek literature. A Greek-English Lexicon had two different definitions of “ὄναρ”: 1) a dream, vision in sleep. 2) characteristic of anything fleeting or general. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament simply had the word meaning dream. And finally A Homeric Dictionary for Schools and Colleges had “ὄναρ” as a dream or vision. So generally the Greek word for dream seems to usually mean a type of dream or vision not necessarily induced by sleep. The word itself seems to be closely related or perhaps derived from the Greek Dreams or “Oneiroi”, a part of Greek mythology mentioned in the Iliad and the Odyssey. Though their specific lineage is viewed differently by the classic poets (Hesiod, Homer, Ovid, and Cicero) the fact that dreams play a part in the history of these ancient civilizations in undeniable. The semantic domain is actually pretty narrow however in the New Testament it’s only referred specifically as a dream. One other word that was found that also meant dream was “ενυπνιον”. However this only appears once in the New Testament in the Book of Acts at 2:17 (King James…show more content…
This didn’t mean the Romans dreamed less than Greeks, in fact their own origin story involved Aeneas and the mother of Romulus and Remus, “but their state religion and political system provided few outlets for commemorating such experiences.” (pg.88) The only time that the individual could express his dream was when it would work in favor of the public good. One of the more notable happenings in which this was the case was the military campaigns of Scipio. “Prior to the capture of New Carthage in Spain in 209 BC, he told his soldiers of a dream in which Neptune had revealed how the Romans could capture the city; the god had even promised to send a spectacular sign once the battle had begun.” (pg.84) During the battle the city had been protected by a well fortified isthmus and a laguna. However Scipio took advantage of the changing tides which made the laguna more shallow and took his soldiers though the waters. After taking the city the soldiers were convinced that Scipio had truly been in contact with Neptune. However this was not to say the majority of the Roman empire believed that the gods communicated through dreams. As a Greek historian, Polybius has vehemently opposed to Scipio’s claims. Polybius quotes Scipio’s close friends and says that Scipio made a point of getting hold of informations regarding the tide of the laguna prior to the battle. (pg.86)The point here

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