Friday, April 1, 2011

A is for Abecedarius


 An acrostic is a poem or other form of writing in which the first letter, syllable or word of each line, paragraph, or verse spells out a word of message. Acrostics were used as a mnemonic device to help people memorize more easily.

One of the most popular or familiar acrostics comes from the days of the early church. As persecution of believers grew because of their belief in Christ, an acrostic was devised to symbolize other believers in Christ. Those early believers used the Greek language to identify Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior: Ιησούς Χριστός, Θεού Υιός, Σωτήρ. The English transliteration is Iesous CHristos, THeou Yios, Soter. These initials spelled out ICHTHYS which is the Greek word for fish. When a Christian saw either the acrostic letters ICHTHYS or the drawing of a fish, he or she knew that other Christians were present. 

An abecedarius is an acrostic in which the first letter of every word, stanza, or verse follows the order to the alphabet. Abecedarius is also a generic term from an alphabet book. We have an example of this in the Psalms 119. Not only being the longest Psalm in the bible it uses successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet as the first letter of each verse. Many bibles are printed with the Hebrew letter as the head of the stanza or verse that begins each line with that Hebrew letter. Unfortunately the translators did not carry this over into English and we are unable to see the acrostic design of the Psalm. Let me share with you an example of the first eight verses of Psalm 119 as they would appear in the Hebrew:

Psalms 119:1-8

A blessing is on them that are undefiled in the way
and walk in the law of Jehovah; 

A blessing is on them that keep his testimonies,
and seek him with their whole heart; 

Also on them that do no wickedness,
but walk in his ways. 

A law hast thou given unto us,
that we should diligently keep thy commandments. 

Ah! Lord, that my ways were made so direct
that I might keep thy statutes!

And then shall I not be confounded.
While I have respect unto all thy commandments. 

As for me, I will thank thee with an unfeigned heart, 
when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments. 

An eye will I have unto thy ceremonies, 
O forsake me not utterly.


welcome to my world of poetry said...

This was an absolutely great start to your challange Gregg, Good luck with the duration of the next 25 letters,


Seams Inspired said...

I have the Ichthus symbol with the Greek letters afixed to the trunk of my car. I love it when people ask me what the Greek letters stand for, though I can only usually recall Χριστός. :o) Thanks for the reminder.

Great "A" post, Gregg. Happy Friday!

Ma ~ said...

Nice first post o' the month.

The new template is nice, too.

Trevor Peck said...

Good start bro! And great new layout as well!

baygirl32 said...

stopping by from the A to Z challenge.

the writing pad said...

Hi Gregg
Most enlightening :-) I'd heard of an acrostic, but not an abecedarius. Very appropriate for this Alphabet related challenge.
All best

Spherical said...


Penned Pebbles said...

A is also for Awesome! Great start!

Ey Wade said...

Nice.that's what happens when people edit to their own likes and dislikes. My joy in learn new things.

Misha said...

Interesting post. :-)

I never realized that Psalm 116 followed the Hebrew alphabet.

Good luck with the rest of the challenge.

God bless you.

Grammy said...

Thank you, Gregg, for reminding me of the Hebrew alphabet and how it is used in Psalms. A wonderful post. Ruby

Yamini Meduri said...

Hello Gregg

First of all..wonderful acrostic...i love this form of poetry...its my favorite..!!!

Thanks for stopping by my Land of Dreams...Keep visiting..!!!

Dani said...

Making the A-Z Challenge rounds!

Blog Book Tours Blog

Sheila Siler said...

Interesting, I never knew that about Psalm 119. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Great way to start! I'm looking forward to reading more! :)

Anonymous said...

There are all kind of surprises like this in the Bible. Its fun to read the notes at the bottom of the pages and find notes for all kinds of cool stuff you didn;t realize was there.

Ron Joe White said...

Wow! That was very interesting. Now if I could only learn how to pronounce the word Abecedarius :-)

Jeffrey Beesler said...

Visiting from the challenge! Have a wonderful journey throughout the rest of the A-Z Challenge, and may it bring you closer to your goals.

Holly Jahangiri said...

What a fitting way to begin April, Gregory! Great post. I've written acrostic poems, but never an abecedarius. I suppose this blogging challenge will change that!

Sheila said...

Thank you for sharing this. I read through it twice. It really touched my heart.

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Anonymous said...

This was interesting and an excellent start. :o)

Arlee Bird said...

Second post I've seen using this strange word that I've never heard. Interesting.

Contrary to my usual practice of subscribing to comments, to save time during challenge I will not be doing so during April. If you want to respond to my comment , please email me directly from your email notification for the comment.

Tossing It Out
Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

Susan said...

Ron Joe White said:

Now if I could only learn how to pronounce the word Abecedarius :-)

Yeah, me too. I love Psalm 119...I wish I could enjoy it in Hebrew, it is probably glorious! :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your share! very impressive!


Michael Wright said...

That's cool, I've never heard of that before.