Don’t forget to pronounce both ‘l’s and don’t worry, it’s a real word. It’s a linguistic term that refers to the omission of one of two similar and successive phonetic sounds or syllables in a word. Examples include: “February” (pronounced Feb-yoo-ary), “probably” (prob-ly, prolly—I’m fond of that one myself), etc. There are more, I can’t think of any right now. Incidentally, the root for haplology is the same as hapax legomenon. In Greek, the connotation is single, one.
A hapax legomenon, as I mentioned the other day, is a word that has appeared in a language (written or spoken) one time only. Keep this in mind as this is the whole point. An example of an English hapax legomenon would be the word flother. Flother is an obsolete synonym for “snowflake” (another one-of-a-kind thing, interesting). The word flother appeared only once prior to 1900. The whole reason I bring this up is because “among the gods, there is none like unto Thee, O Lord.” (Psalm 86:8, emphasis mine)
When I was in ninth grade, I read Homer’s Iliad. Having been raised Christian, the concept of other gods had never been more than a few references from the Old Testament—never been taken seriously. So I read Iliad with a leery skepticism but was nevertheless intrigued by this introduction to ancient, foreign religion and its pervasiveness in Greek and Trojan life. And please understand, this stuff is essentially non-essential. We really have no business delving into a platonic understanding of another religion unless we truly know Jesus (the aim of the Christian religion, I might add). Along those lines, an unfounded and inordinate interest in anything spiritual other than God, is dangerous. C. S. Lewis put it well when he said: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”
“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: The devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19, emphasis mine)
A point of contention in the debate between atheists and believers is this idea that Judeo-Christianity is nothing more than modern mythology. This inference would seem to be the logical one when you look at the mythologies and religions the world over. Each pantheon and belief system share many of the same stories and divine acts as does Judeo-Christianity: fall from grace, twins at odds (Jacob and Esau), diluvian myth (flood story), etc. With reference to Jesus, the same virgin birth/death/resurrection cycle is repeated numerous times in other cultures. And many deities, according to myth, spent time among humans, as humans. This therefore, coupled with hardness of heart and unbelief, is enough for someone to fold their arms in repose, rest on their laurels and go about their godless life. Never mind any appeal to the physical—that’s a problem for another time. The sad thing is that many people who adhere to this opinion are only parroting back what sounds good to them and meshes with their innate unbelief. In other words, they haven’t bothered to study it out for themselves. Another sad thing is that many Christians haven’t studied these things out for themselves either in order to stem the tide. Let alone turn it. Here’s the point: (John 1:14) “And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” Jesus—as the living word—is the hapax legomenon. The only Word spoken by God the Father throughout the millennia of human religious belief and practice.
“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29
When James says “thou believest that there is one God, thou doest well”, that’s really all that God asks of us (“only believe” Mark 5:36).
Look at Acts 14:11. The people of Lystra (a city of Lycaonia in Asia Minor, vs. 6), when they saw that God had healed a crippled man through Paul, shouted “the gods are come down to us in the likeness of men”. To which Paul and Barnabas responded by running into the crowd and proclaiming the “living God” only (verse 15).
And this is where the analogy of the haplology comes in to focus again: If Jesus is the living Word, Jesus is God and Man. “Emanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:23) Don’t forget to pronounce both. When we see Jesus as something other than how the Bible describes Him—the only way to God—and how the Holy Spirit witnesses Him to our heart—i.e knowing Him—we mispronounce an integral part of Him as both divine Savior and also human being.
And then all of Christendom is cast in skepticism.
I say all of that to say this: Merry Christmas. Celebrate Jesus. Know Him, love Him, worship Him. Every day.
Enjoy the flothers and we’ll pick this thing up again around Easter.