"Passion" is derived from Latin passio, which in turn is derived from the verb patior, with the root, pat-. The Latin words are connected with the Greek root, path-, which appears in a large number of derivatives. And in Greek, Latin, and English (with other languages in addition) words connected with this root, pat-, path-, are often susceptible of a great variety of meanings, for which the dictionaries must be consulted. For "passion," however, as it appears in English Versions of the Bible, only three of these meanings need be considered.
(1) Close to what seems to be the primary force of the root is the meaning "suffer," and in this sense "passion" is used in Acts 1:3, "to whom he also showed himself alive after his passion." This translation is a paraphrase (Greek:
"after he had suffered"), due to the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) (post passionem suam), and in English is as old as Wycliff, whom the subsequent English Versions of the Bible has followed. This is the only case in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) where "passion" has this meaning, and it can be so used in modern English only when referring (as here) to the sufferings of Christ (compare "Passion play").
(2) "Suffering," when applied to the mind, came to denote the state that is controlled by some emotion, and so "passion" was applied to the emotion itself. This is the meaning of the word in Acts 14:15, "men of like passions," and James 5:17, "a man of like passions," Greek homoiopathes; the Revised Version margin "of like nature" gives the meaning exactly:
"men with the same emotions as we."
(3) From "emotion" a transition took place to "strong emotion," and this is the normal force of "passion" in modern English the King James Version does not use this meaning, but in the Revised Version (British and American) "passion" in this sense is the translation of pathos, in its three occurrences:
It is used also for two occurrences of pathema (closely allied to pathos) in Romans 7:5 (the King James Version "motions," the King James Version margin "passions") and in Galatians 5:24 (the King James Version "affection"). The fixing of the exact force in any of these cases is a delicate problem fully discussed in the commentaries. In Colossians 3:5 only does "passion" stand as an isolated term. The context here perhaps gives the word a slight sexual reference, but this must not be overstressed; the warning probably includes any violent over-emotion that robs a man of his self-control.
See AFFECTION; MOTION.
Burton Scott Easton
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