Three Translations Of Aristotle

1. Dr. Pond(5): In describing the highest heaven, the residence of the gods, Aristotle says: "It is therefore evident that there is neither space, nor time, nor vacuum beyond. Wherefore the things there are not adapted by nature to exist in place; nor does time make them grow old; neither under the highest (heaven) is there any change of any one of these things, they being placed beyond it; but unchangeable, passionless - they continue through all aiona (eternity.) For indeed, the word itself according to the ancients, divinely expressed this. For the period which comprehends the time of every one's life, beyond which, according to nature, nothing exists, is called his aion, (eternity.) And for the same reason, the period of the whole heaven even the infinite time of all things, and the period comprehending that infinity is aion, eternity, deriving its name from aei, einai, always being, immortal and divine."

Dr. J. R. Boise,(6) Professor of Greek in the University of Chicago: "Time is a notation of motion; and motion without a physical body is impossible. But, beyond the heaven, it has been shown that there is neither a body, nor can there be. It is plain, therefore, that there is neither space, nor void, nor time beyond. Therefore, the things there are not by nature in space, nor does time make them grow old, nor is there any change in any one of those things placed beyond the outermost sweep (or current); but, unchangeable and without passion, having the best and most sufficient life, they continue through all eternity (aion); for this name (i.e., aion) has been divinely uttered by the ancients. For the definite period (to telos), which embraces the time of the life of each individual, to whom, according to nature, there can be nothing beyond, has been called each ones's eternity (aion). And, by parity of reasoning, the definite period also of the entire heaven, even the definite period embracing the infinite time of all things and infinity, is an eternity (aion), immortal and divine, having received the appellation (eternity, aion) from the fact that it exists always (apo tou aei einai).

Dr. Edward Beecher:(7) "The limit of the whole heaven, and the limit enclosing the universal system, is the divine and immortal existing (aei on) (God) deriving his name Aion from his ever existing (aei on.)" Dr. B. adds: "From the time of Homer to Plato and Aristotle, about five centuries, the word aion is used by poets and historians alongside of various compounds of aei, for the compounds of aei retain the diphthong ei, but aion drops the e. There is a verb aio - to breathe, to live. The passage of Aristotle in which his etymology occurs, has been mistranslated, for it does not give the etymology of the abstract idea eternity, but of the concrete idea God, as an ever-existing person, from whom all other personal beings derived existence and life. What Aristotle has been supposed to assert of aion, in the sense of eternity, he asserts of aion in the sense of God, a living and divine person. That the word aion in the classic Greek sometimes denotes God is distinctly stated in Henry Stephens' great lexicon, (Paris edition,) and the passage referred to in Sophocles (Herac. 900,) fully authorized his statement. In that passage Jupiter is called 'Aion, (the living God) the Son of Kronos.' Moreover, the whole context of Aristotle proves that he is speaking of the great immovable first mover of the universe, the Aion, immortal and divine"

This passage from Aristotle is obscure, and if he were authority, it would not settle the question of the meaning of the word. If we adopt this theory, we may claim that aion had the primary meaning of continuous existence, such being the signification of aei and on, but there is no warrant even in such an origin for ascribing to it duration without end. But Aristotle does not say or intimate that the word had the meaning of eternity in his day, nor does his statement of its derivation prove that it had that meaning then. On the contrary, Aristotle's use of the word, as we shall hereafter show, clearly proves that it had no such meaning in his mind, even if it is compounded of aei and on.

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