James 3:3: Government of the Tongue, Part 2

Verse 3:[1] Behold, (Ps. 32:9) we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

[But if, ἰδού] Behold (Erasmus, Vatablus, etc.). The Vulgate and certain codices, as Bede testifies, read εἰ δὲ, but if[2] (Erasmus) [just as also Grotius reads it], but erroneously in the place of ἴδε/look[3] (Beza).

[Bits, etc.] By an apt similitude he shows that those things which move great matters are often small. See Psalm 32:9. Hence to bridle is put in the place of to govern, not only among the Poets, but also among the Orators.[4] And the bit of skin attached to the tongue is called χαλινός, a bit (Grotius).

[In order to, etc., πρὸς τὸ πείθεσθαι, etc.] So that they might obey (or, be subject to [Syriac]) us (Erasmus, Illyricus, Tigurinus, Pagnine, Piscator, thus Castalio, Tremellius, Beza, Arabic): πείθεσθαι, to listen to, שָׁמַע, to hear. Thus we say, …the chariot does not harken to the reins[5] (Grotius).

[And, etc., καὶ—μετάγομεν] And their whole body (with a little iron, according to our will [Estius]) we turn about (Erasmus, Pagnine, Beza, Piscator, etc.). There is trajections in the words, and he says βάλλομεν καὶ μετάγομεν, we put in and we lead about, in the place of, putting in, we lead about, or, we put in and thus we lead about: καὶ/and in the place of καὶ οὕτως, and thus (Piscator).

Behold, etc.: He illustrates the former proposition, that he that can rule his tongue may rule his whole body, by two similitudes: the first, of an unruly horse, which yet, as wanton as he is, being curbed in with a bit, may be easily managed; intimating, that even so, if a man’s tongue be well governed, the rest of the man will be under command.

[1] Greek: ἰδού, τῶν ἵππων τοὺς χαλινοὺς εἰς τὰ στόματα βάλλομεν πρὸς τὸ πείθεσθαι αὐτοὺς ἡμῖν, καὶ ὅλον τὸ σῶμα αὐτῶν μετάγομεν.

[2] Thus Codices Alexandrinus and Vaticanus.

[3] In the imperative. Thus the great majority of Byzantine manuscripts.

[4] Tyrranicida 4. Lucian of Samosata (c. 120-c. 180) was a trained rhetorician, particularly skilled in satire.

[5] Virgil’s Georgics 1.

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