Tuesday, February 3, 2009


In a recent conversation over dinner at the church, we became embroiled in a discussion of the meaning of the word “scrip.” My brother used a meaning I was not familiar with and cited as an authority an individual I happen to have little faith in. Although my opinion of the individual has not changed, I must admit that the case made for his definition is very compelling.

The most familiar usage is in regard to instructions to the “seventy” in Luke 10 and the proscribed behavior they should practice. In verse 4 it states: “Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes; nor salute any man by the way.” Many have believed that “scrip” carried the most common modern definition of being used as a substitute for currency. Anyone who participated in an occupation force in a foreign country has familiarity with “scrip.” Actually, in that sense, it applies to any substitute for genuine currency or coinage: tokens, gift cards, credit vouchers, gift certificates, or just about anything of intrinsic exchangeable value other than the real thing in temporary use.

In a lesser circulated and understood definition is the usage derived from “ME, fr. ML scrippum a pilgrim’s knapsack.” This archaic application actually makes far more sense. The “purse” mentioned in the verse clearly indicates the presence of money and to apply the same meaning to “scrip” would be redundant. (I’m still uncertain about the “shoes.”) In scripture, we often find the same words repeated to underline significance, but not a duplication of words with similar meaning.

Actually the word “scrip” as applied as a substitute for money is a corruption of the Latin scriptum “thing written,” hence, its use in the pharmacy recognizing a note from the doctor regarding a prescription. Given the absence of the “t” in the Latin root words it is far more likely that the “knapsack” definition is the proper one. It just makes more sense.

This has been a learning experience at two distinct levels. First a reminder; the Bible is not a Tom Clancy novel to be read casually to follow a plot thread. It is an autobiography and highly detailed account of history. It is a vessel of knowledge of that which was, that which is, and that which is to come. Given that level of importance it needs to be studied, carefully examined and when in doubt, prayed over to seek discernment. Since the book has been written over the ages, it is often necessary to understand the use of some archaic terms and shun assigning their modern usage.

I should have realized that God does not waste words to reveal either His history or His will. Platitudes are the province of men.

The second level of learning is a realization that although I mistrust a man and his motives I should refrain from thinking him a fool and a charlatan. He is, after all, a child of God. It is inappropriate for me to enter a judgment since it is well beyond my pay grade. If I have a different opinion and set of values I should pursue him with less rancor and more love. For this, I apologize.

This road to perfection is sometimes a rocky one and nearly always uphill. I shall have to just keep on plodding. I have “miles to go before I sleep.”

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

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