Fair - Trench's New Testament Synonyms


asteios (G791) Fair
horaios (G561)
kalos (G2570) Beautiful
Asteios is used twice in the New Testament (Acts 7:20; Heb. 11:23), and on both occasions it is applied to Moses. This use is derived from Exodus 2:2, where the Septuagint uses asteios as equivalent to the Hebrew tôb. In Acts 7:20, to theo (G2316) is added to asteios, which has perplexed interpreters, as the many different translations of this verse show: gratus Deo,"pleasing to God" (Vulgate); "loved of God" (Wycliffe); "a proper child in the sight of God" (Tyndale); "acceptable unto God" (Cranmer, Geneva, and Rheims); and "exceeding fair" (authorized Version). The authorized Version's translation is probably the most accurate, since it understands to theo as a heightening of the high quality it extols. For a similar idiom, note Jonah 3:3: polis (G4172) megale to theo, which may be translated "an exceedingly great city." In Hebrews 11:23, many English versions translate asteios as "a proper child." It would not be easy to improve upon this, though "proper" here is a little out of date.

Asty, the base of asteios, indicates asteios's starting point and explains its successive changes. First of all, one who has been born and bred (or at least reared) in the city and who therefore is urban is asteios. The one who is urban also may be assumed to be urbane, and this testifies to the gracious civilizing influences of the people whose contact he has enjoyed. Thus asteios has a certain ethical tinge that is real, though perhaps not very profound. Such a person is implicitly contrasted with the agroikos the churl, the boor, and the "hay-seed." In an instructive passage in Xenophon, the asteioi are described as eucharites, as obliging and gracious, according to the humbler uses of that word. Assuming that the higher culture that city-bred persons enjoy is manifested in their appearance, which is molded by humanizing influences, asteios came to be understood as fair and comely, as suggesting beauty, though not generally of a higher character. Plutarch contrasted the asteios and the aischros (G150) or positively ugly. Judith is asteia (Jth. 9:23).
Horaios is used frequently in the Septuagint, where it represents a large variety of Hebrew words. In the New Testament, horaios is only used four times.The steps by which it came to mean "the beautiful" in all of these passages are few and easy to trace. In this world everything that is subject to the laws of growth and decay has its "hour," or hora (G5610), that period when it attains its greatest grace or beauty. This hora, or turning point of its existence and the time when it is at its loveliest and best, produces horaios, which first referred to that which is timely. In Xenophon, horaios thanatos (G2288) is timely death because it is honorable. Next, horaios came to refer to the beautiful.
Asteios and horaios came to mean the same thing, so that "fair" or "proper" or "beautiful" are appropriate translations of either word. But asteios and horaios arrived at these same meanings by different paths, which began from different images. One word belongs to the realm of art, the other to the realm of nature. Asteios indicates neatness, symmetry, and elegance, and thus beauty. It generally refers to something small, even when proposed for our admiration. Aristotle admitted that small persons (hoi mikroi,3398) may be asteioi and symmetroi, or "dapper and well-shaped," but he refused to call them kaloi.Horaios is different. Although all things that belong to the passing world eventually perish, along with their grace, they still have their "hour," however brief, that season of their highest perfection. This last concept is part of horaios.
Although the higher moral aspects and uses of kalos are interesting to note, especially the way the term can be used to refer to beauty and to goodness, we will not deal with this aspect of the word. Only when kalos refers to physical aspects of beauty can it be compared with horaios. Initially, kalos referred to beauty, especially from the Greek viewpoint of that which is harmonious and complete, of something in which all the parts are balanced and proportionate. Basil the Great did an excellent job of distinguishing kalos and horaios:
To horaion differs from to kalon; that which is developed at the suitable time to its fitting prime is called horaion, as the fruit of the vine, which has fulfilled its own mission toward its fruition through the season of the year and is ready for enjoyment; kalon is that which is harmonious in the composition of its parts, possessing a grace blooming in it.

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