Recently, I’ve worked through part of Augustine’s Enarrations [Expositions] on the Psalms. There’s much that’s of interest in this work in terms of Augustine’s theological exegesis.
But one of the minor features that repeatedly struck me was Augustine’s repeated discussion of “reins.”
In this reading, I used the English version from the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers series. So, it’s an older translation, and I’d though it was for this reason that the word “reins” appears in what I thought to be some odd cases.
In any event, several instances made tolerable sense when interpreting “reins” as being like those for a horse. But then I came across a case where it was a bit too much of a stretch (27.14).
So I finally cracked a dictionary and noticed that “reins” actually has three meanings in English:1
- As a noun (either singular or plural) indicating some kind of tension mechanism,
- As a verb indicating the use of something like the noun form of the word,
These two uses I was familiar with, but the third was the surprise that made much better sense out of the NPNF translation of Augustine’s Enarrations:
- As a noun (plural only) indicating the kidneys, loins, or this area of the body as the seat of emotion.
In the end, the lesson is that it’s never a bad time to be open to broadening your English vocabulary. And especially when reading an older English text or translation, it’s often a good idea not to assume a particular meaning if something strikes you as odd. It never hurts to double check a dictionary for an older meaning(s) you might not previously have been aware of.
Logos 8.4 releases with a small host of updates and improvements.
There has been some difficulty getting accurate results from searching notes for Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic text in v.8.
It could be that I simply overlooked the mention of this fix among the descriptions of the changes included in this update. But this release does seem to have remedied these challenges as well.
- These entries are paraphrased from the 11th ed. of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. ↩
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