Site Home



Exegesis Home

Overall Site












End Notes

This page revised and Copyrighted: Theon Doxazo

14 December, 2023


Kittle on Knowledge


Note:  [Brackets will be used to insert my 'translations' into otherwise literal quotations.]


Kittle - Knowledge


Bultmann, R.  (1964).  γινώσκω, γνῶσις, ἐπιγινώσκω, ἐπίγνωσις.  In:  Kittel, G. & Friedrich, G. (Eds.).  Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Vol. I).  (G. W. Bromiley, Trans.)  Grand Rapids, MI:  Wm. B. Eerdmans.


γινώσκω, γνῶσις, ἐπιγινώσκω, ἐπίγνωσις


The Greek Usage – by Rudolf Bultmann


"The basic meaning of γινώσκειν [knowing], and the specifically Greek understanding of the phenomenon of knowledge, are best shown by a twofold differentiation.  The term is to be distinguished a. from αἰσθάνεσθαι [feeling], which denotes perception with no necessary emphasis on the element of understanding." . . . . "The word is also to be distinguished b. from δοκει̑ν [appearing] and δοξάζειν [glorify], which signify having an opinion (δόξα) [glory] of some object or matter with no guarantee that it really is as supposed.  In contrast, γινώσκειν [knowing] embraces things as they really are"  (Kittle Vol. I, page 690, line 1&11)


The Gnostic Usage


"While γινώσκειν [knowing] is for the Greeks the cultivated methodical activity of the νου̂ς [the mind] or λόγος [a word], fulfilled in science and particularly philosophy, the γνῶσις [knowledge] of the Gnostic, both as process and result, is a χάρισμα [free gift] which is given by God to man.  It is thus radically distinguished from rational thought;  it is illumination."  (p. 694, l. 1&6)


The OT Usage


"Yet the OT usage is much broader than the Greek, and the element of objective verification is less prominent than that of detecting or feeling or learning by experience." . . . . "the OT both perceives and asserts the significance and claim of the knowing subject."  (697, 9&22)


"The reference, then, is not to knowledge in a general sense but to knowledge in a special sense.  This knowledge is the knowledge of God (ןעת יהוה).  This does not mean that it is a knowledge of God's eternal essence.  On the contrary, it is a knowledge of His claim, whether present in direct commands or contained in His rule.  It is thus respectful and obedient acknowledgment of the power and grace and demand of God.  This means that knowledge is not thought of in terms of the possession of information." . . . . "Thus knowledge has an element of acknowledgment.  But it also has an element of emotion, or better, of movement of will, so that ignorance means guilt as well as error." . . . . "The 'knowledge of God (Hos. 4:1; 6:6; Is. 11:2, 9), or 'knowledge' in the absolute (Hos. 4:6; Prv. 1:7; 9:10), is almost identical with the fear of God with which it is linked in Is. 11:2, and it implies the doing of what is right and just (Jer. 22:16)."  (698, 2&15&25)


The Jewish Usage


"For the Rabbis, however, the Torah and tradition are the only source and theme of knowledge and instruction.  Hence all the meanings amount to very much the same in fact.  Again, according to the Rabbinic view the fulfillment of the commands present in the Torah and tradition is possible only when they have been studied and are known." . . . . "If in the OT the thought of obedience is regulative in the equation of the knowledge of God and the fear of God, and if this obedience is rooted in knowledge, then the idea of the knowledge which is the presupposition of obedience is dominant for the Rabbis."  (701, 24&30)


The Early Christian Usage


"The early Christian use of γινώσκειν [knowing] (and γνῶσις [knowledge]) raises no problems where the reference is to knowledge in the ordinary sense and there is no question of an OT or Greek or specifically NT concept."  (703, 18)


"That there is no general distinction between the simple [γινώσκειν]and compound forms [ἐπιγινώσκειν] in early Christian writings is shown by a comparison of Mk. 2:8 with 8:17;  Mk. 5:30 with Lk. 8:46;  Mk. 6:33, 54 with Lk. 9:11;  Mt. 7:16, 20 with Lk. 6:44;   Mt. 11:27 with Lk. 10:22;  Lk. 24:31 with 24:35;  Col. 1:6 with 2 C. 8:9."  (704, 8)


The OT and Jewish Usage and its Influence


"Yet the usage diverges at this point from that which characterizes the Greek world.  It approximates to the OT view in which knowledge is also a movement of the will, so that  means: 'Let it be told you.'  That is to say, it is no mere question of objective confirmation but of a knowledge which accepts the consequences of knowledge."  (704, 34)


"Rather curiously, the compound ἐπιγνῶσις has become almost a technical term for the decisive knowledge of God which is implied in conversion to the Christian faith."  (707, 5)


"Intrinsically the usage is that of popular Greek, and we may always translate 'knowledge.'  If the theoretical element determines the concept, the practical consequences are always implied.  It is characteristic that the guiding factor is not interest in Christian learning but the edification of the community which is to be advanced by the γνῶσις [knowledge] of the individual (R. 15:14; 1C. 14:6; 1 Cl., 48, 5; Did., 11, 2).  Phil. 1:9f. shows plainly that reflective enquiry (sic) is involved, but it is grounded in love and thus leads to right action:"  (708, 4)


"Thus it is obvious that γινώσκειν [knowing] is the supreme and true mode of being.  But it is also obvious that materially this is understood to be ἀγάπη [love].  God is ἀγάπη [love], so that the man who is related to Him is related as one who loves (1 Jn. 4:8, 16).  To be determined by love is thus a criterion of the knowledge of God (1 Jn. 4:7 f.; cf. 4:20 f.), as also of belonging to Jesus (Jn. 13:35).  Like γινώσκειν [knowing], ἀγαπα̑ν [beloved] determines the relationship between the Father and the Son (Jn. 3:35; 10:17; 15:9; 17:23 f., 26 and 14:31), and also between Jesus and His own (13:1, 34; 14:21 ff.; 15:12, 17).  Hence it is plain that γινώσκειν [knowing] does not mean the knowledge of investigation, observation or speculation, nor of mystical vision remote from historical contacts or action; it achieves concrete expression in historical acts." . . . . "To know Him, however, is not merely to have information concerning the circumstances of His life (6:42; 7:28).  It is to know His unity with the Father (10:38; 14:20; 16:3).  Nor does this mean a mystical relationship with Jesus.  It means understanding Him in His obedience and love.  It means seeing in Him the ἅγιος του̑ θεου̑, i.e., the One whom God has sent and who has sanctified Himself for the world (14:31; 6:69; 17:3, 8 f.)."  (711-712, 17&46)


"The normal movement from πιστεύειν [believing] to γινώσκειν [knowing] (6:69;8:31   f.; 10:38) can be reversed.  γινώσκειν [knowing] gives πιστεύειν [believing] new power (16:30; 17 :7 f.; cf. 1 Jn. 4:16; cf. Tob. 14:4 א).  True faith, i.e., the faith which 'abideth,' contains γινώσκειν [knowing] within itself (cf. 1 Jn. 2:4 with 6).  γινώσκειν [knowing] is a constitutive element in πιστεύειν [believing]."  (713, 3)



[Please note that the selections above are nowhere near a complete representation of the information contained in Kittle.  These portions were chosen to reflect the passages I felt were particularly pertinent to these discussions.  You are strongly encouraged to obtain access to a copy and review this material for yourself.]


[The bracketed translations are mine.]  [Regarding the 'Hebrew' in the text: I do not know Hebrew.  What you see is simple 'hunt and peck' copying.  I know the breathings are omitted.  Please excuse the failings of this ignorant one.]