Saturday, September 05, 2009


Ralph Earle (when discussing Matt. 24:1) says that NAOS finds it etymological roots in the verb NAIW ("dwell"). This Greek word was used in classical Greek to delineate the "dwelling place of the gods," and it was also used in the LXX to describe God's temple at Jerusalem (Earle 21). Earle then quotes Thayer, who writes that NAOS is "used of the temple at Jerusalem, but only of the sacred edifice (or sanctuary) itself, consisting of the Holy place and the Holy of Holies" (Qt. in Earle 21). So this source seems to indicate that NAOS is confined to the sanctuary of the temple (the Holy and Most Holy place). But let's continue our examination before we come to any set conclusion.

About hIERON, Earle exclaims that it is the "substantive neuter of the adjective hIEROS, 'sacred.'" The adjective hIEROS is used of the temple of Artemis at Ephesus (Acts 19:27); twice in the LXX for the Temple at Jerusalem (Ezek. 45:19; 1 Chron. 29:4); "71 times in the NT--45 in the Gospels, 25 in Acts, and only once elsewhere" (1 Cor. 9:13). After this analysis, Earle concludes that "hIERON in the Gospels and Acts . . . refers to the whole Temple area" (Earle 21). He claims that "only the priests could go into the NAOS, the sanctuary itself."

In the interest of fairness, Earle cites Michel (TDNT 4:882) who believes that there is "no real distinction between the terms [NAOS and hIERON] in either meaning or range," although Michel appears to temper this comment somewhat on page 4:885. So Earle says, but I do not interpret Michel in the same way. Please read the TDNT entry and decide for yourself. At any rate, Michel appears to believe that Matt. 27:5 supports the view that NAOS can also be used of the whole temple area (i.e., it is not limited to the sanctuary).

BAGD has an extensive examination of NAOS that I'm not about to post in full here. Nevertheless, some of the observations found in this lexicon bear repeating. NAOS means, "temple," says BAGD. It refers to the temple at Jerusalem--to the "whole temple precinct" in Matt. 23:17, 35; 27:5, 40 (BAGD 533). But cf. Matt. 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45.

Some more important references to the "heavenly sanctuary" are Rev. 14:15; 15:6; 16:1, 17. BAGD also lists Rev. 7:15; 11:19b; 15:5 (cf. Rev. 3:12; 21:22, 23). There is more to be said in BAGD under figurative uses. I suggest that this information be read and analyzed by all interested parties.

Louw-Nida reads: "NAOS . . . a building in which a deity is worshiped (in the case of the Temple in Jerusalem, a place where God was also regarded as dwelling)--'temple, sanctuary.' " (See Mt 23:35; John 2:21).

"hIERON . . . a temple or sanctuary . . . and the surrounding consecrated area." See John 10:23; Mt 21:12; 1 Cor. 9:13. Note an apparent exception at Acts 19:27. "hIERON in the NT refers to the Temple in Jerusalem, including the entire temple precinct with its buildings, courts, and storerooms."

I'm going the leave the matter at this right now.

Best regards,

Edgar Foster

"A logic must work in some way, and it must be possible to show how it
operates and to characterize this operation" (John M. Ellis).


Βασίλειος said...

Allow me to add to your comments this passage from the article NAOS of the Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (2:456), where two clear cases of NAOS as the entire building complex are discussed:

“The building efforts of Herod I began in 20/19 B.C. with the renovation of the temple in Jerusalem. Approximately ten years were needed for the temple building itself. The construction of the entire temple complex lasted longer; the official opening was not made until 63 A.D. The forty-six years of construction in John 2:20 render the date A.D. 27/28 and fit well with the chronology of Jesus (cf. Luke 3:1; see R. Schnackenburg, John I, 351f.). The temple building itself was surrounded by courts; non-Jews were permitted to enter only the outermost court (see Rev 11:2;  i`ero,n 3.h, taken over in a spiritual sense from the Herodian temple; see Kraft, Rev 152). The betrayer Judas threw the pieces of silver "in the temple" (Matt 27:5), perhaps in the temple treasury, for he would have had no access to the temple itself (see E. Klostermann, Matt [HNT] 217).”

Edgar Foster said...

Good information. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Just a note however, that while there are two cases which may provide an exception to the rule, the rule distinguishing hieron and naos holds up well in every other use of the words, of the nearly 71 times for hieron and 45 for naos. Many of those verses clearly clearly distinguish the appropriateness of naos as the more secluded sanctuary/dwelling. This is likely why Thayer's Lexicon and others have added that we need not read Judas' case an exception to the rule. Perhaps he was desperate enough to throw the money into the Most Holy where only priests were supposed to go. Might also mean that we need to read John 2:18-21 more carefully and note that Jesus would have used naos on purpose, referring to his own body (for similar -- and better -- reasons than 1 Cor 3:16). The only mis-use of naos for hieron might then be in the mouths of his audience who were slightly confused about the meaning, therefore it's in the form of a question, perhaps even questioning his use of the word naos for clarification to see if Jesus was misusing it. In any case these two places may indeed be exceptions -- but I wouldn't call them "clear" cases.