"Possess" in modern English means normally only "keep in one's possession." But in Elizabethan English it means also "take into possession," and, in fact, the word in the Old Testament always represents Hebrew verbs with the latter as their primary meaning (yarash, in nearly all cases, otherwise nachal, qanah, 'achaz; Aramaic chacan). Consequently, in almost every case "take possession of" could be substituted advantageously for "possess," but the Revised Version (British and American) has not thought the change worth carrying through. In the Apocrypha and New Testament, however, the distinction has been made, the King James Version's "possess" being retained for katecho, in 1 Corinthians 7:30; 2 Corinthians 6:10, but the same translation for ktaomai, is changed into "take us for a possession (Judith 8:22), "get" (Luke 18:12), "win" (Luke 21:19), and "possess himself of" (1 Thessalonians 4:4, a very obscure passage). In the noun possession, on the other hand, no such ambiguity exists, and attention need be called only to the following passages. In Deuteronomy 11:6, the King James Version has, "all the substance that was in their possession," Hebrew "all that subsisted at their feet," the Revised Version (British and American) "every living thing that followed them." the King James Version uses "possession" loosely in Acts 28:7 for chorion, the Revised Version (British and American) "lands." peripoiesis, from peripoieo, "cause to remain over," "gain," rendered "God's own possession" in Ephesians 1:14 the Revised Version (British and American) (the King James Version "possession") and 1 Peter 2:9 (the King James Version "peculiar," the King James Version margin "purchased"). "God's own" is a gloss but is implied in the context.
Burton Scott Easton
These files are public domain.