Amen

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The word amen ( /ˌɑːˈmɛn/ , /ˌˈmɛn/ ) [lower-alpha 1] (Hebrew אָמֵן, Greek ἀμήν, Arabic آمِينَ) is a declaration of affirmation [1] [2] first found in the Hebrew Bible and subsequently in the New Testament. It is used in Jewish, Christian and Muslim worship as a concluding word or response to prayers. [2] Common English translations of the word amen include "verily" and "truly". It can also be used colloquially to express strong agreement, [2] as in, for instance, amen to that. [3]

Hebrew Bible Canon of the Hebrew Bible

The Hebrew Bible, also called the Tanakh or Mikra, is the canonical collection of Hebrew scripture, which is also the textual source for the Christian Old Testament. These texts are composed mainly in Biblical Hebrew, with some passages in Biblical Aramaic. The form of this text that is authoritative for Rabbinic Judaism is known as the Masoretic Text (MT) and it consists of 24 books, while the translations divide essentially the same material into 39 books for the Protestant Bible, and into 46 books for the Catholic Bible.

New Testament Second division of the Christian biblical canon

The New Testament is the second part of the Christian biblical canon, the first part being the Old Testament, based on the Hebrew Bible. The New Testament discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Christianity. Christians regard both the Old and New Testaments together as sacred scripture. The New Testament has frequently accompanied the spread of Christianity around the world. It reflects and serves as a source for Christian theology and morality. Extended readings and phrases directly from the New Testament are incorporated into the various Christian liturgies. The New Testament has influenced religious, philosophical, and political movements in Christendom and left an indelible mark on literature, art, and music.

Prayer invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with a deity

Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication. In the narrow sense, the term refers to an act of supplication or intercession directed towards a deity, or a deified ancestor. More generally, prayer can also have the purpose of thanksgiving or praise, and in comparative religion is closely associated with more abstract forms of meditation and with charms or spells.

Contents

Pronunciation

In English, the word amen has two primary pronunciations, ah-men (/ɑːˈmɛn/) or ay-men (/eɪˈmɛn/), [4] with minor additional variation in emphasis (the two syllables may be equally stressed instead of placing primary stress on the second).

In anglophone North America the ah-men pronunciation is used in performances of classical music, in churches with more formalized rituals and liturgy and in liberal to mainline Protestant denominations, as well as almost every Jewish congregation, in line with modern Hebrew pronunciation. The ay-men pronunciation, a product of the Great Vowel Shift dating to the 15th century, is associated with Irish Protestantism and conservative Evangelical denominations generally, and is the pronunciation typically used in gospel music.

Ritual set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value

A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and performed according to set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious community. Rituals are characterized but not defined by formalism, traditionalism, invariance, rule-governance, sacral symbolism, and performance.

Liturgy is the customary public worship performed by a religious group. As a religious phenomenon, liturgy represents a communal response to and participation in the sacred through activity reflecting praise, thanksgiving, supplication or repentance. It forms a basis for establishing a relationship with a divine agency, as well as with other participants in the liturgy.

The Great Vowel Shift was a series of changes in the pronunciation of the English language that took place primarily between 1350 and the 1600s and 1700s, beginning in southern England and today having influenced effectively all dialects of English. Through this vowel shift, all Middle English long vowels changed their pronunciation. Some consonant sounds changed as well, particularly those that became silent; the term Great Vowel Shift is sometimes used to include these consonant changes.

In Arabic the pronunciation ah-meen (ʾĀmīn) is used upon completing a supplication to God or when concluding recitation of the first surah Al Fatiha in prayer. [5]

Arabic Central Semitic language

Arabic is usually classified as a Central Semitic language, and linguists widely agree that the language first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE. It is now the lingua franca of the Arab world. It is named after the Arabs, a term initially used to describe peoples living in the area bounded by Mesopotamia in the east and the Anti-Lebanon mountains in the west, in northwestern Arabia, and in the Sinai Peninsula. Arabic is classified as a macrolanguage comprising 30 modern varieties, including its standard form, Modern Standard Arabic, which is derived from Classical Arabic.

Dua Invocation in Islam

In Islam, duʿāʾ, literally meaning appeal or "invocation", is a prayer of supplication or request. Muslims regard this as a profound act of worship. Muhammad is reported to have said, "Dua is the very essence of worship."

Etymology

"Amen" in contemporary (Madnhaya) Syriac script. Amen in East Syriac Aramaic language.svg
"Amen" in contemporary (Madnhāyā) Syriac script.

The usage of Amen, meaning "so be it", as found in the early scriptures of the Bible is a word of Hebrew origin. [6] [ page needed ] It originated in the Hebrew Scriptures, as a response of confirmation, and is found in Deuteronomy as an confirmatory response made by the people. [7] Moreover, in the Books of Chronicles (16:36), it is indicated that around 1000 BC, the word is used in its religious sense, with the people responding with "Amen" to hearing the blessing: "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from now and unto all eternity". [8] The basic triconsonantal root from which the word is derived, is common to a number of languages in the Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic languages, including Aramaic. The word was imported into the Greek of the early Church from Judaism. [1] [9] From Greek, amen entered the other Western languages. According to a standard dictionary etymology, amen passed from Greek into Late Latin, and thence into English. [10] Rabbinic scholars from medieval France believed the standard Hebrew word for faith emuna comes from the root amen. Although in English transliteration they look different, they are both from the root aleph-mem-nun. That is, the Hebrew word amen derives from the same ancient triliteral Hebrew root as does the verb ʾāmán. [11]

Bible Collection of religious texts in Judaism and Christianity

The Bible is a collection of sacred texts or scriptures. Varying parts of the Bible are considered to be a product of divine inspiration and a record of the relationship between God and humans by Christians, Jews, Samaritans, and Rastafarians.

Hebrew language Semitic language native to Israel

Hebrew is a Northwest Semitic language native to Israel; the modern version of which is spoken by over 9 million people worldwide. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites and their ancestors, although the language was not referred to by the name Hebrew in the Tanakh. The earliest examples of written Paleo-Hebrew date from the 10th century BCE. Hebrew belongs to the West Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Hebrew is the only living Canaanite language left, and the only truly successful example of a revived dead language.

Grammarians frequently list ʾāmán under its three consonants ( aleph-mem-nun ), which are identical to those of ʾāmēn (note that the Hebrew letter א aleph represents a glottal stop sound, which functions as a consonant in the morphology of Hebrew). [10] This triliteral root means to be firm, confirmed, reliable, faithful, have faith, believe.

Aleph is the first letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician 'Ālep 𐤀, Hebrew 'Ālef א, Aramaic Ālap 𐡀, Syriac ʾĀlap̄ ܐ, Arabic Alif ا and Urdu Alif ا. It also appears as South Arabian 𐩱, and Ge'ez ʾÄlef አ.

Mem is the thirteenth letter of the Semitic abjads, including Hebrew mēm מ, Aramaic Mem , Syriac mīm ܡܡ, Arabic mīm م and Phoenician mēm . Its value is.

Nun is the fourteenth letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Nūn , Hebrew Nun נ, Aramaic Nun , Syriac Nūn ܢܢ, and Arabic Nūn ن. It is the third letter in Thaana (ނ), pronounced as "nonou".
Its sound value is.

In Arabic, the word is derived from its triliteral common root word ʾĀmana (Arabic : آمن), which has the same meanings as the Hebrew root word.

Popular among some theosophists, [12] proponents of Afrocentric theories of history, [13] and adherents of esoteric Christianity [14] [15] is the conjecture that amen is a derivative of the name of the Egyptian god Amun (which is sometimes also spelled Amen). Some adherents of Eastern religions believe that amen shares roots with the Hindu Sanskrit word, Aum . [16] [17] [18] [19] Such external etymologies are not included in standard etymological reference works. The Hebrew word, as noted above, starts with aleph, while the Egyptian name begins with a yodh. [20]

The Armenian word ամեն (amen) means "every"; however it is also used in the same form at the conclusion of prayers, much as in English. [21] In French, the Hebrew word amen is sometimes translated as Ainsi soit-il, which means "So be it." [21]

The linguist Ghil'ad Zuckermann argues that, as in the case of Hallelujah, the word Amen is usually not replaced by a translation due to the speakers’ belief in iconicity, their perception that there is something intrinsic about the relationship between the sound of the signifier (the word) and what it signifies (its meaning). [22] :62

Hebrew Bible

The word first occurs in the Hebrew Bible in Numbers 5:22 when the Priest addresses a suspected adulteress and she responds “Amen, Amen”. Overall, the word appears in the Hebrew Bible 30 times.

Three distinct Biblical usages of amen may be noted: [1]

  1. Initial amen, referring back to words of another speaker and introducing an affirmative sentence, e.g. 1 Kings 1:36. [1]
  2. Detached amen, again referring to the words of another speaker but without a complementary affirmative sentence, e.g. Nehemiah 5:13. [1]
  3. Final amen, with no change of speaker, as in the subscription to the first three divisions of Psalms. [1]

New Testament

There are 52 amens in the Synoptic Gospels and 25 in John. The five final amens (Matthew 6:13, 28:20, Mark 16:20, Luke 24:53 and John 21:25), which are wanting in certain manuscripts, simulate the effect of final amen in the Hebrew Psalms. All initial amens occur in the sayings of Jesus. These initial amens are unparalleled in Hebrew literature, according to Friedrich Delitzsch, because they do not refer to the words of a previous speaker but instead introduce a new thought. [23]

The uses of amen ("verily" or "I tell you the truth", depending on the translation) in the Gospels form a peculiar class; they are initial, but often lack any backward reference. [24] Jesus used the word to affirm his own utterances, not those of another person[ citation needed ], and this usage was adopted by the church. The use of the initial amen, single or double in form, to introduce solemn statements of Jesus in the Gospels had no parallel in Jewish practice. [25]

In the King James Bible, the word amen is preserved in a number of contexts. Notable ones include:

Religious use

Judaism

Although amen, in Judaism, is commonly stated as a response to a blessing, it is also often used as an affirmation of any declaration.

Jewish rabbinical law requires an individual to say amen in a variety of contexts. [28]

With the rise of the synagogue during the Second Temple period, amen became a common response, especially to benedictions. It is recited communally to affirm a blessing made by the prayer reader. It is also mandated as a response during the kaddish doxology. The congregation is sometimes prompted to answer 'amen' by the terms ve-'imru (Hebrew : ואמרו) = "and [now] say (pl.)," or, ve-nomar (ונאמר) = "and let us say." Contemporary usage reflects ancient practice: As early as the 4th century BCE, Jews assembled in the Temple responded 'amen' at the close of a doxology or other prayer uttered by a priest. This Jewish liturgical use of amen was adopted by the Christians. [25] But Jewish law also requires individuals to answer amen whenever they hear a blessing recited, even in a non-liturgical setting.

The Talmud teaches homiletically that the word amen is an acronym for אל מלך נאמן (ʾEl melekh neʾeman, "God, trustworthy King"), [29] the phrase recited silently by an individual before reciting the Shma.

Jews usually approximate the Hebrew pronunciation of the word: /ɑːˈmɛn/ ah-MEN (Israeli-Ashkenazi and Sephardi) or /ɔːˈmn/ aw-MAYN (non-Israeli Ashkenazi). [30]

Christianity

The use of "amen" has been generally adopted in Christian worship as a concluding word [31] for prayers and hymns and an expression of strong agreement. [25] The liturgical use of the word in apostolic times is attested by the passage from 1 Corinthians cited above, and Justin Martyr (c. 150) describes the congregation as responding "amen" to the benediction after the celebration of the Eucharist. [1] [31] Its introduction into the baptismal formula (in the Eastern Orthodox Church it is pronounced after the name of each person of the Trinity) was probably later. [32] [31]

In Isaiah 65:16, the authorized version has "the God of truth" ("the God of amen" in Hebrew). Jesus often used amen to put emphasis to his own words (translated: "verily" or "truly"). In John's Gospel, it is repeated, "Verily, verily" (or "Truly, truly"). Amen is also used in oaths (Numbers 5:22; Deuteronomy 27:15–26; Nehemiah 5:13; 8:6; 1 Chronicles 16:36) and is further found at the end of the prayer of primitive churches (1 Corinthians 14:16). [26]

In some Christian churches, the "amen corner" or "amen section" is any subset of the congregation likely to call out "Amen!" in response to points in a preacher's sermon. [33] Metaphorically, the term can refer to any group of heartfelt traditionalists or supporters of an authority figure.

Amen is also used in standard, international French, but in Cajun French Ainsi soit-il ("so be it") is used instead.

Amen is used at the end of the Lord's Prayer, [34] which is also called the Our Father or the Pater Noster.

Islam

`Amin in Arabic. Ameen.gif
ʾĀmīn in Arabic.

ʾĀmīn (Arabic : آمين) is the Arabic form of Amen. In Islam, it is used with the same meaning as in Judaism and Christianity; when concluding a prayer, especially after a supplication (du'a) or reciting the first surah Al Fatiha of the Qur'an (salat), and as an assent to the prayers of others. [35] [36]

See also

Notes

  1. Hebrew: אָמֵן, Modern: amen, Tiberian: ʾāmēn; Greek: ἀμήν; Arabic: آمِينَ, ʾāmīna; "So be it; truly"

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Wikisource-logo.svg Thurston, Herbert (1907). "Amen"  . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia . 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  2. 1 2 3 Harper, Douglas. "amen". Online Etymology Dictionary . Retrieved 20 August 2007.
  3. Microsoft Encarta Dictionary Tools. Retrieved 20 August 2007
  4. "amen - definition of amen in English by Oxford Dictionaries". oxforddictionaries.com. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  5. https://bustedhalo.com/podcasts/two-ways-pronouncing-amen
  6. Paul Joüon, SJ, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, trans. and revised by T. Muraoka, vol. I, Rome: Editrice Pontificio Instituto Biblico, 2000.
  7. Understanding Your Neighbor's Faith, Philip Lazowski, (KTAV), 2004, page 43
  8. Understanding Your Neighbor's Faith, Philip Lazowski, (KTAV), 2004, page 43
  9. "Amen". Jewish Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 16 February 2008. Retrieved 19 February 2008.
  10. 1 2 "Amen". American Heritage Dictionary. Archived from the original on 21 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-26.
  11. "King James Bible Strong's Hebrew Dictionary". Archived from the original on 13 February 2008. Retrieved 26 February 2008.
  12. "COLLATION OF THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARIES – Amen". Archived from the original on 15 March 2008. Retrieved 12 March 2008.
  13. The Origin of the Word Amen, Ed. by Issa & Faraji, Amen Ra Theological Seminary Press. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 February 2010. Retrieved 16 February 2010.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) as quoted in the Lexington Herald-Leader, "Scholar traces origins of 'Amen' He says word is of African, not Hebrew, origin", December 2007,
  14. "Assembly of Yahweh, Cascade (an Assembly of True Israel, of the Diaspora) – Words and Definitions critical to the correct understanding of the Scriptures and Christianity". Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 12 March 2008.
  15. "Amen". The Assembly of IaHUShUA MaShIaChaH. 15 December 2005. Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 13 March 2008.
  16. Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yoga, 1946, chapter 26.
  17. Sri H.W.L Poonja, 'The Truth is', Published by Samuel Weiser, 2000, ISBN   1-57863-175-0
  18. Mandala Yoga Archived 22 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  19. "Hindu Culture - Omkar and Swastika". hindubooks.org. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  20. Erman, Adolf & Grapow, Hermann: Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache, Im Auftrage der Deutschen Akademien, Berlin: Akademie Verlag (1971), p.85
  21. 1 2 "Amen: Behind the word and meaning". ASH. 12 August 2018. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  22. Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2003), Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN   9781403917232 / ISBN   9781403938695
  23. "Amen", Encyclopedia Biblica
  24. "Amen". Jewish Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 16 February 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
  25. 1 2 3 "Amen". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2008. Retrieved 17 March 2008.
  26. 1 2 "Bible Dictionary: Amen". eastonsbibledictionary.com. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  27. cf. John L. McKenzie, SJ, "Dictionary of the Bible", New York: MacMillan Publ. Co., Inc., 1965. Entry: "Amen," p. 25)
  28. Orach Chaim 56 (amen in kaddish); O.C. 124 (amen in response to blessings recited by the prayer reader); O.C. 215 (amen in response to blessings made by any individual outside of the liturgy).
  29. Tractate Shabbat 119b and Tractate Sanhedrin 111a
  30. To Pray as a Jew: A Guide to the Prayer Book and the Synagogue Service, Hayim Halevy Donin
  31. 1 2 3 Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Amen"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 804.
  32. Among certain Gnostic sects, Amen became the name of an angel.
  33. Hovda, Robert W. (1983). "The amen corner". Worship. 57 (2): 150–156.
  34. Wycliffe. "Matthew 6:9– 15". Wycliffe Bible.
  35. Hastings, James (2004) [1901]. A Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels: Volume I. The Minerva Group, Inc. p. 52.
  36. Glassé, Cyril (2003). The New Encyclopedia of Islam. Stacey International. p. 48.

Further reading

Schnitker, Thaddeus A. "Amen." In The Encyclopedia of Christianity , edited by Erwin Fahlbusch and Geoffrey William Bromiley, 43–44. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1999. ISBN   0802824137