MANSION (μονή, John 14:2
; John 14:23
).—1. ‘Mansion,’ like μονή, is properly an abstract noun, meaning ‘a staying,’ ‘an abiding.’ In English literature it is first found in Hampole’s Psalter, 5. 8 (c.
1340 a.d.), ‘þai entire in til God is house of heuen and takis þaire joy and þaire mansyon in þaire perfeccioun.’ So in the B text of Piers Plowman, Langland says of Pride (B xiv. 26): ‘Arst in the maister than in the man some mansioun he hath’ (he dwelleth in the master rather than in the man). The C text (c.
1393) keeps the word while it extends the limits of Pride’s abode (xvii. 59): ‘Other in the maister, other in the man, some mancion he shewith.’ But Hampole and Lydgate (1420) also use ‘mansion’ of a dwelling-place. A charter of Henry vi. (1444) uses it of a hostel, and Fabyan (1512) of the chief residence of a lord, whence it gains its modern meaning of ‘an imposing abode,’ which is seen even in Shakspeare (2 Henry IV. iii. ii. 351). Bacon, however, still uses the word in its abstract sense in the Advancement of Learning (1605), and both Shakspeare and Milton use it of ‘an abiding-place’ without the suggestion of a building (Timon of Athens, v. i. 218; Paradise Lost, i. 268, viii. 296). From the Vulgate mansiones it is used by Wyclif for ‘halting-places’ in Exodus 17:1,
but in translations from the Greek (as Whiston’s Josephus, 1737) this meaning represents σταθμός, not μονή, and so has no bearing upon the sense of John 14:2
. The Vulgate also uses mansiones in John 14:2,
and is responsible for Hampole’s use of the English form of the word in the sense of ‘dwelling-places.’ That sense was confirmed in the language, partly by Chaucer (Knight’s Tale, 1116), but mainly by the influence of Tindale’s Version of the NT (1526), ‘In my fathers housse are many mansions,’ and (2 Corinthians 5:1
) ‘Our erthy mancioun wherein we now dwell,’ copied by Milton in Il Penseroso, 92.
2. But while the English ‘mansion’ and the identical French word maison have retained from their common original only the developed meaning of ‘dwelling-place,’ the Greek μονή is nowhere in extant literature found with this meaning, save only in John 14:2
. Westcott (with Liddell and Scott) explains its use in this verse by the supposed occurrence of the word in Pausanias (x. 31:7) in the sense of ‘a halting-place for the night.’ But the ordinary reading in that passage seems impossible Greek, and is certainly corrupt (see J. G. Frazer’s note): τέτμηται δὲ διὰ τῶν μονῶν ἡ ὁδός is not an intelligible expression for the traditional meaning, ‘there are halting-places at intervals upon the road.’ One MS reads μηνῶν, from which W. M. Ramsay conjectures διὰ τῶν Μηρηνῶν, ‘the road has been carried through the country of the M. (beside Minos’ tomb).’
Apart, then, from John 14:2,
μονή remains a purely abstract noun, meaning (1) abiding, (2) continuance, (3) rest. The ease with which it passes from the first to the last of these meanings can be seen from Plato, Crat. 437 B, where μνήμη is defined as a μονή, and not a φορά; Ar. Phys. v. 6. 8 (ὥστε κινήσει μονὴ ἐναντία); Polybius, iv. 41, 4, 5, where it is twice coupled with στάσις; and most of all in Plutarch, whose writings (a.d. 80–120) are contemporary with St. John’s Gospel.
Like the classical authors, Plutarch still uses μονή, in the literal sense of ‘a stay’ or ‘a continuance’: οὔτε μονὴν ἐν τῶ βίῳ τοῖς ἀγαθοῖς οὔτε ἐξαγωγὴν τοῖς κακοῖς (1042 D), ἀλλὰ καὶ τούτοις μονὴν οἴονται καθήκουσαν εἶναι κἀκείνοις ἐξαγωγήν, 1063 D. But in 1024 F, though μονή answers to τὸ μένου, Plutarch opposes it, like Aristotle, to κίνησις: ἔστι γὰρ ἡ μὲν νόησις τοῦ νοοῦτος κίνησις περὶ τὸ μένον, ἡ δὲ δόξα μονὴ τοῦ αἰσθανομένου περὶ τὸ κινούμενον. So in 927 A the material elements as conceived by Empedocles are reduced to order by the introduction of the principle of love (φιλότητος ἐγγενομένης), ἳνα … τὰ μὲν κινήσεως τὰ δὲ μονῆς ἀνάγκαις ἐνδεθένπα … ἁρυονίαν καὶ κοινωνίαν ἀπεργάσηται τοῦ παντός, where μονή has the complete meaning of rest as opposed to motion. And in 747 C he uses the plural of ‘rests’ in dancing; ἐνταῦθα δὲ αἑ μοναὶ πέρατα τῶν κινήσεων εἰσίν.
In John 14:2,
however, the immediate mention of ‘a place’ seems to demand a concrete meaning for μοναί, though it has no parallel elsewhere. If so, the senses of ‘abode’ in vv. 2 and 23, concrete and abstract respectively, will be derived from the idea of rest that has become attached to the word, as well as from the original idea of remaining. The difference is seen at once when the μονὴν ποιεῖσθαι of John 14:23
is compared with the same phrase in Thuc. i. 131: Pausanias the victor of Plataea, intriguing with the Persians in Asia Minor, was ‘prolonging his stay to no good purpose’ (οὐκ ἐπ ̓ ἀγαθῷ τὴν μονὴν ποιούμενος), μονήν, as the Scholiast remarks, being practically equivalent to ἀργίαν, ‘idleness.’ In John 14:23
the phrase combines, like μοναί in John 14:2,
the meanings of ‘abiding’ and ‘rest’ with that of the ‘home’ in which the rest is found. All the same suggestions are found in 1 Maccabees 7:38,
the only passage in the LXX Septuagint where μονή occurs: μνήσθητι τῶν δυσφημιῶν αὐτῶν, καὶ μὴ δῳς αὐτοῖς μονήν (‘and suffer them not to live any longer,’ Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 ).
3. The μονή of the Christian in the spiritual world (John 14:2
) and the μονή of God in the Christian (John 14:23
) are evidently intended to be correlative: ‘Abide in me, and I in you’ (John 15:4
). Their consummation realizes the ideal of John 17:21
; John 17:23
; meanwhile they are the NT fulfilment of the two OT ideals of rest: ‘Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him’ (Psalms 37:7
), and ‘Arise, O Lord, into thy resting-place; thou, and the ark of thy strength’ (Psalms 132:8
). John 14:2,
that is, refers not only to the perpetual ‘rest’ or ‘home’ in the life hereafter, but, like v. 23, to the ‘abiding’ fellowship with the Divine in this life (Matthew 28:20, Revelation 21:8
). See artt. Abiding, and Father’s House.
Literature.—For the English word see Oxford English Dict., where its history is fully illustrated; Aldis Wright’s Bible Word-Book, 387, 388; Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible iii. 238. The Greek word is very insufficiently treated both in Stephanus and in Liddell and Scott; for Plutarch’s uses see Wyttenbach’s Index, where, however, some references are misprinted. Reference may further be made to Expos. Times, viii.
303; Expositor, ii. ii.
397, iv. vi.
209; A. Maclaren, The Holy of Holies (1890), p. 12; R. W. Dale, Christ and the Future Life (1895), pp. 33–84; J. Parker, City Temple Pulpit, i. (1899), p. 259.