This volume is intended to be a contribution to a special branch of the study of our own language. It proposes to trace in a popular manner and for general readers the changes of meaning which so many of its words have undergone; words which, as current with us as they were with out forefathers, yet meant something different on their lips from what they mean on ours.
First published in 1904, this book contains the conclusions of a series of lectures exploring the moral and historical value of single words. The author argues that, just as wisdom and knowledge are discoverable in books, so too are these treasures to be found in individual words themselves.
THIS VOLUME, not any longer a little one, has grown out of a course of lectures on the Synonyms of the New Testament, which, in the fulfilment of my duties as Professor of Divinity at King’s College, London, I more than once addressed to the theological students there. The long, patient, and exact studies in language of our great Schools and Universities, which form so invaluable a portion of their mental, and of their moral discipline as well, could find no place during the two years or two years and a half of the theological course at King’s College. The time itself was too short to allow this, and it was in great part claimed by more pressing studies. Yet, feeling the immense value of these studies, and how unwise it would be, because we could not have all which we would desire, to forego what was possible and within our reach, I two or three times dedicated a course of lectures to the comparative value of words in the New Testament—and these lectures, with many subsequent additions and some defalcations, have supplied the materials of the present volume. I have never doubted that (setting aside those higher and more solemn lessons, which in a great measure are out of our reach to impart, being taught rather by God than men), there are few things which a theological teacher should have more at heart than to awaken in his scholars an enthusiasm for the grammar and the lexicon.