Tribulation - Trench's New Testament Synonyms


thlipsis (G2347) Tribulation
stenochoria (G4730) Affliction
Thlipsis and stenochoria are often used together. In three of the four passages where stenochoria occurs in the New Testament, it is associated with thlipsis.The verbs thlibein (G2346) and stenochorein also are used together. Because stenochoria always occurs last whenever it is used with thlipsis, and because of the antithesis between these words in 2 Corinthians 4:8, stenochoria appears to be the stronger of the two words, whatever their difference in meaning.
Thlipsis and stenochoria refer to the same thing under different images. Thlipsis properly means "pressure."1 could have said angor (anguish), since Cicero referred to this as "pressing grief," except that the connection of angor with the German Angst (anguish) and enge (narrow or confined) makes it more appropriate to reserve this word for stenochoria.
The proper meaning of stenochoria is "narrowness of room," "confined space," and the painfulness that is the result. "Narrow straits" (aporia stene) and stenochoria appear together in Isaiah 8:22. Thucydides used stenochoria literally (7.70). Sometimes stenochoria is used in place of dyschoria. Plutarch contrasted stenochoria with anesis (G425). In the Septuagint stenochoria refers to the straitness of a siege (Deut. 28:53, 57). It appears in a secondary and metaphorical sense once in the Old Testament"anguish [stenochoria] of spirit" (Wisd. of Sol. 5:3)which is its only sense in the New Testament. The appropriateness of this image is attested by the frequency with which a state of joy is referred to in the psalms (and elsewhere) as a bringing into a large room. Whether Aquinas intended to provide an etymology (he probably did), he certainly uttered a truth when he said: "Joyfulness is like width."
The literal meaning of thlipsis is illustrated by the penalty prescribed by ancient English law for those who refused to plead: they were pressed and crushed to death by heavy weights that were placed on their chests. It was stenochoria when Tamerlane, who had vanquished Bajazet, carried him about in an iron cage. Since we do not know if Bajazet suffered because of his narrow confines, perhaps it would be better to refer to the oubliettes, in which Louis XI shut up his victims, or to the "little-ease" that was used to torture the Roman Catholics in Queen Elizabeth's reign: "It was of so small dimensions and so constructed that the prisoners could neither stand, walk, sit, nor lie in it at full length." In Romans 2:9 Paul said that both thlipsis and stenochoria would be the portion of the lost.

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