What is ‘etimasthe’?

The purpose of etimasthe is to highlight the misrepresentation of Christianity in the UK media (as well as pointing out when it’s represented fairly!), and to educate people on the early history of Christianity. But what does ‘etimasthe’ mean?

Short answer: “he was despised.”

“The purpose of etimasthe is to highlight the misrepresentation of Christianity in the UK media, and to educate people on the early history of Christianity.”

The word is taken from Isaiah chapter 53 verse 3 in the Septuagint, an ancient translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek and the version of the Old Testament which is often quoted by New Testament writers.[1]

He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isaiah 53:3[2]

The phrase, “he was despised,” in the last line of this verse translates the Greek word ἠτιμάσθη, ‘ētimasthē’ (pronounced ay-tim-as-thay).[3] It is from this that our blog takes its name.

“About whom does the prophet say this, about himself or someone else?”

That is the question which the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip (a disciple) when Philip met him on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. The eunuch had been reading this very chapter of Isaiah.

“And the eunuch said to Philip, ‘About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?’ Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.”

Acts of the Apostles 8:34-35

Philip’s answer was unequivocal:—

And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.
Acts of the Apostles 8:34-35[4]

From the very beginnings of Christianity (as the above quotation shows) to this very day, Christians have always believed that this passage in the prophet Isaiah — written around 550 B.C. — was pointing forward to the death of Jesus.

That’s because, although the passage in Isaiah doesn’t name Jesus as the person it’s describing, the description it gives fits remarkably well with what we know of the trial, suffering, death and burial of Jesus.

To give just one simple example, Isaiah 53:7 says,

… like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.[5]

The Gospels tell us that Jesus remained largely silent at his trial, answering nothing to the charges falsely brought against him (see Mark 14:55-64). Likewise that he gave no answer when he was brought before the Roman governor, Pilate (see Matthew 27:11-14).

“I would urge anybody to compare Isaiah 53:1-10 with the passages in the Gospels which relate Jesus’ trial, death and burial, and see just how closely the events fit with the description in Isaiah.”

I would urge anybody to compare Isaiah 53:1-10 with the passages in the Gospels which relate Jesus’ trial, death and burial (e.g., Matthew 26:47—27:61; John 18—19), and see just how closely the events fit with the description in Isaiah.

There is more, though. The Isaiah passage speaks not only of the unnamed person’s suffering, death and burial; it also speaks (somewhat elliptically) of that person’s being subsequently raised from the dead:

Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
Isaiah 53:10-12[6]

After all, how can he “see his offspring… prolong his days” after his death? How can he “divide the spoil with the strong” after his death? — only by being raised from the dead!

And this is what the Gospels tell us happened to Jesus. After his burial, God raised him up again — see, e.g., Mark 16:1-8; John 20:1-23.

An appropriate name

“He was despised” is not only a fitting description of Jesus at the time of his trial, suffering, death and burial — it is also a fitting description of Christianity in the UK today.

“‘He was despised’ is not only a fitting description of Jesus at the time of his trial, suffering, death and burial — it is also a fitting description of Christianity in the UK today.”

Christianity is frequently slighted and disdained in the media — often unfairly. For example, on 27 July 2017 the Independent Online published an article entitled,

Bible says Canaanites were wiped out by Israelites but scientists just found their descendants living in Lebanon[7]

The first half of the above headline is a complete untruth — as I have shown here — yet their article is still up there, without a word of apology or correction; they are still making money off it.

Even when the media reports on Christianity fairly,[8] you can see the popular hostility towards Christianity all the time in the social media world. Regularly on social media we are mocked, despised and shouted down by people who delight in telling Christians how their God is about as believable as ‘Father Christmas’ and what brainless morons we are for believing in such a fairy story.

Examples of social media vitriol directed against Christianity. Much of this vitriol is based on ignorance of what Christians really believe.
Examples of social media vitriol directed against Christianity. Much of this vitriol is based on ignorance of what Christians really believe.

It is assumed that atheism is the ‘normal’ position — the position adopted by all sensible and rational human beings — and that ‘religion’ is the crazed fantasy of the deluded. Thus those who mock Christianity are free to do so without making any justification of their statements, and very often based on ignorance of what Christians really believe.[9]

And that is why this blog is called etimasthe — “he was despised.”

As for Christianity? Well, if it is a fairy story which only ‘brainless morons’ would believe, then I for one am happy to be a brainless moron.

 

 

Note
etimasthe.com is something I do outside of full-time employment. Consequently I generally only post new material on here once or twice a week.

The best way to stay informed of new content on here is to follow us on Twitter (@etimasthe) or to ‘like’ our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/etimasthe.

 


Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 


[1] A few examples: (1.) Matthew 21:13 = Mark 11:17 = Luke 19:46, are all quotations from Isaiah 56:7; Jeremiah 7:11 in the Septuagint. (2) Acts 7:42-43 is a pretty exact quotation of the Septuagint of Amos 5:26-27, apart from the substitution of ‘Babylon’ for ‘Damascus.’ (3) James 2:8 is an exact quotation of the Septuagint of Leviticus 19:18. According to a couple of analyses quoted in H.B. Swete’s An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek, available online here, when the New Testament directly quotes the Old, (a) it differs from the (Massoretic) Hebrew text in 212 cases, but from the Septuagint only in 185; (b) “not more than fifty” of the citations “differ materially from the [Septuagint].” Swete comments: “On either estimate the [Septuagint] is the principal source from which the writers of the N.T. derived their O.T. quotations.”

[2] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+53%3A3&version=ESVUK

[3] For the grammar nerds out there, this is the first aorist tense, third person singular indicative passive of the verb ἀτιμάζω, atimadzō, “I despise.”

[4] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+8%3A34-35&version=ESVUK

[5] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+53%3A7&version=ESVUK

[6] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+53%3A10-12&version=ESVUK

[7] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/bible-canaanites-wiped-out-old-testament-israelites-lebanon-descendants-discovered-science-dna-a7862936.html

[8] Cf. some analysis I did recently, here.

[9] They are, of course, legally entitled to make such statements. I am not here advocating any sort of legal censure of such language — merely pointing out its ignorance, imbalance and unjustness.

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