Hard - Trench's New Testament Synonyms
Hardskleros (G4642) Hard
austeros (G840) Austere
In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, the slothful servant charges his master with being skleros (a hardman, v. 24), but in the corresponding parable in Luke 19 he accuses him of being austeros (an austereman, v. 21). The words are similar but not identical in meaning.
Skleros is correctly applied to something that is hard and dry (and therefore rough and disagreeable to the touch) because of a lack of moisture. More frequently, skleros is used as an ethical term that expresses roughness, harshness, and intractability in a person's moral nature. Thus Nabal (1 Sam. 25:3) is described as skleros, a fitting epithet for this churlish man.
Austeros is used only once in the New Testament (Luke 19:21) and never in the Septuagint. Austeros primarily refers to something that contracts the tongue and that is harsh and stringentto the palate, something like unaged wine or unripe fruit. Just as we use strict as an ethical term, so the Greeks used austeros in the realm of ethics, borrowing an image from the concept of taste, just as skleros is borrowed from the concept of touch. The person described as austerosis neither amiable nor attractive.
None of the words associated with austeros imply the kind of deep moral perversity that is indicated by many of the words that are associated with skleros. Moreover, austeros often occurs in more honorable company, and so is frequently used with sophron, mousikos and sophronikos. An otherwise noble and great person is called austeros when he does not sacrifice to the Graces. The Stoics claimed that all good men were austere.
In Latin, austerus is predominantly an honorable word that describes an earnest and severe person who is opposed to all levity. It describes a person who may need to guard against harshness, rigor, or moroseness, though he is not yet guilty of these traits.
We may distinguish skleros and austeros in this way. On the one hand, skleros always conveys a serious reproach and indicates a harsh, inhuman, and (in the earlier sense of that word) uncivil character. On the other hand, austeros does not necessarily convey a reproach at all. And even where it does, it conveys a far less opprobrious reproach than the one implied by skleros.Austeros is the exaggeration of a virtue pushed too far rather than an absolute vice.