Dissipation - Trench's New Testament Synonyms


asotia (G810) Dissipation
Riotous Excess
aselgeia (G766) Licentiousness
Although asotia and aselgeia are not synonyms, it is unlikely that one who is asotos would not also be aselges. Asotia and aselgeia express different aspects of the same sin or at least depict it from different perspectives.
Asotia occurs three times in the New Testament (Eph. 5:18; Titus 1:6; 1 Pet. 4:4), once in the Septuagint (Prov. 28:7), and once in the Apocrypha (2 Macc. 6:4), where it is joined with komoi (G2970). The adverb asotos (G811) occurs in Luke 15:13, and asotos occurs once in the Septuagint (Prov. 7:11). In the Authorized Version, asotia is translated "dissipation." In medieval Latin, the Vulgate's use of luxuria and luxuriose implied a loose and profligate lifestyle. This is far from our present use of luxuryand luxuriously(see my Select Glossary). Asotos is sometimes taken in a passive sense as equivalent to asostos or as referring to one who cannot be saved or as equivalent to perditus (hopeless). Grotius states: "The race of humans is so immersed in vices that their salvation has been regarded as lost." Asotosis prophetic of the doom that will come to those to whom it applies, though this is a comparatively rare use. More commonly the asotos is a spendthrift. According to Aristotle, who used the word as part of his ethical terminology, asotia is the extravagant squandering of means. Aristotle argued that the eleutherios (the truly liberal man) keeps the golden mean between the two extremities, namely, the asotia on the one hand and the aneleutheria on the other. When Plato named the various catachrestic terms that men use to describe vices by the names of the virtues they caricature, he described asotia as megaloprepeia.
It is easy to see how one who is asotos (spending more than his means warrant) easily falls under the fatal influence of flatterers. In the end the temptations with which he has surrounded himself lead him to spend his resources on his own lusts and appetites, for the gratification of his own sensual desires. Thus asotia indicates not only expensive habits but even more a dissolute, debauched, and profligate manner of living.
Asotia is used that way in the New Testament. Because asotia's two meanings"dissipation" and "riotous excess"often blend into one another, it is not possible to keep them strictly separated. Thus the examples of asotos and asotia given by Athenaeus (4.59-67) sometimes have one meaning and sometimes the other. One who wastes his goods often wastes everything else, including his own time, faculties, and powers. Uniting the active and passive meanings ofasotia, we may say of such a person that he will be laid waste; he at once loses himself and is lost.
The etymology of aselgeia is obscure. Some have seen it as a reference to Selge, a city of Pisidia whose inhabitants were infamous for their vices; others believe that it comes from thelgein. Aselgeia occurs more frequently in the New Testament than asotia and is generally translated "lasciviousness" in our Authorized Version, though sometimes it is translated "wantonness." In the Vulgate aselgeia is translated by impudicitia (lewdness) and luxuria (wantonness). If our English or Latin translators only had impurities and lusts of the flesh in mind, their translations are certainly too narrow. Aselgeia is best described as wanton, lawless insolence. It is a somewhat stronger term than the Latin protervitas (impudence)though of the same qualityand more closely resembles the Latin petulantia (wantonness). Chrysostom correlated aselgeia with itamotes, and Basil the Great defined it as "a disposition of the soul not having or bearing any struggle with remorse." Passow observed that the aselges is very closely allied to the hybristikos and the akolastos.The akolastos acknowledges no restraints and dares to do whatever his caprice and wanton petulance may suggest. Although aselgeia may display itself in "lascivious" acts, which are the worst manifestations of hybris (G5196), it primarily refers to acts that are petulant and insolent. "Wantonness" is the better of the two translations used in the Authorized Version because it has the same duplicity of meaning as aselgeia, a term with which it has a remarkable ethical connection.
In many passages aselgeia does not imply lasciviousness. In classical Greek aselgeia is defined as "violence with abuse and rashness." Thus Demosthenes denounced the aselgeia of Philip and characterized the blow that Meidias had given him as characteristic of the aselgeia of the man. Plutarch characterized a similar outrage that Alcibiades had committed against an honorable citizen of Athens as aselgeia. Indeed, he painted Alcibiades in the full-length portrait of an aselges. Aristotle spoke of "the wantonness [aselgeian] of demagogues" as a frequent cause of revolutions. Josephus ascribed aselgeia and mavia (G3130, madness) to Jezebel because she dared to build a temple of Baal in the holy city itself. Josephus also ascribed these traits to a Roman soldier who by a grossly indecent act committed while on guard at the temple during the Passover provoked a riot that resulted in the loss of many lives.
Thus aselgeia and asotia are clearly distinguishable. Asotia refers to wastefulness and riotous excess; aselgeia refers to lawless insolence and wanton caprice.

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