Evil(-mindedness) - Trench's New Testament Synonyms


kakia (G2549) Evil(-mindedness)
kakoetheia (G2550) Wickedness
Although classical authors often use kakia in a way that embraces the whole complex of moral evil, that is not the way the word is used in the New Testament. In classical literature, arete (G703) and kakia refer to virtue and vice, respectively, though Cicero refused to translate kakia by malitia(malice) and coined vitiositas(vice) instead. Cicero justified this by saying: "For malice [malitia] is the name of a particular fault; vice [vitiositas] includes all." In Cicero's estimation, kakia is not the name of one vice but of the viciousness out of which all vices spring. In the New Testament, however, kakia is not so much viciousness as a special form of vice. If kakia referred to viciousness, other evil habits of the mind would be subordinated to it (as a larger term includes the lesser), but in fact they are coordinated with it. We must find a more suitable definition.
Kakia refers to a more evil mind set, to the malitia(malice) that Cicero refused to use, and poneria (G4189) refers to the active result of that evil habit of mind. Elsewhere Cicero explained malitiaas "the shrewd and deceitful calculation of doing harm." And, indeed, our English translators often have rendered kakia by "malice," showing that they regarded it in this way.
Although kakia occurs several times in the New Testament, kakoetheia occurs just once in Paul's long and terrible catalogue of the wickedness that filled the heathen world (Rom. 1:29). In that passage, kakoetheia has been translated by "malignity." When understood in this broader sense (which it often has), kakoetheia corresponds exactly to the term ill-nature that was used by our early divines. When used in that sense, however, it is difficult to assign kakoetheia to any domain not already occupied by kakia or poneria.
Therefore I prefer to understand Paul's use of kakoetheia in its more restricted sense, as it is so understood in the Geneva Version and by Aristotle. Indeed, kakoetheia is Pliny's "ill-will of interpreters" (Letters 5.7) and is exactly opposed to what Seneca so happily called the "kind evaluation of things."
Aristotle cited the unfavorable interpretation of all the words and actions of others as one of the vices of old peoplethey are kakoetheis (L-S 861, malicious) and kachypoptoi (L-S 933, suspicious). We can assume that kakoetheia in Romans 1:29 has this narrower meaning. Its position in that dread catalogue of sins entirely justifies our treating it as a peculiar form of evil. It manifests itself in a malignant interpretation of the actions of others, attributing to them the worst imaginable motives.
We should note the deep psychological truth that the secondary meaning of kakoetheia brings out: the evil that we find in ourselves makes us ready to suspect and believe that evil exists in others. The kakoethes (malicious person), himself being of an evil moral habit, sees himself in those around him.Contrast that with Schiller's description of the kind of love that "delightedly believes Divinities, being itself divine. "In the same way one who is thoroughly evil finds it impossible to believe anything but evil about others (Job 1:9-11; 2:4-5). At the very time when they are plotting to take the life of Telemachus, the suitors in the Odyssey are persuaded that he intends to kill them at a banquet by mingling poison with their wine. And Iago apparently believed that the world was peopled only with other Iagoes; he could not conceive of any other type of humanity. Socrates wanted to show that physicians benefit from their association with the sick but that teachers and rulers do not benefit from an association with the bad. He explained how young men, as yet uncorrupted, are euetheis (good-hearted) rather than kakoetheis (malicious), "inasmuch as they do not possess patterns of feeling similar to the wicked."

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