Eternal Duration And Modern Conceptions

It does not seem to have been generally considered by students of this subject that the thought of endless duration is comparatively a modern conception. The ancients, at a time more recent than the dates of the Old Testament, had not yet cognized the idea of endless duration, so that passages containing the word applied to God do not mean that he is of eternal duration, but the idea was of indefinite and not unlimited duration. I introduce here a passage from Professor Knapp, or Knappius, the author of the best edition of the Greek Testament known, and one in use in many colleges and ranks as a scholar of rare erudition. He observes:

"The pure idea of eternity is too abstract to have been conceived in the early ages of the world, and accordingly is not found expressed by any word in the ancient languages. But as cultivation advanced and this idea became more distinctly developed, it became necessary in order to express it to invent new words in a new sense, as was done with the words eternitas,perennitas, etc. The Hebrews were destitute of any single word to express endless duration. To express a past eternity they said before the world was; a future, when the world shall be no more____The Hebrews and other ancient people have no one word for expressing the precise idea of eternity."

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