AskDefine | Define gnomic

Dictionary Definition

gnomic adj : relating to or containing gnomes; "gnomic verse"

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Of, or relating to gnomes.
  2. In the context of "of a saying or aphorism": Mysterious and often incomprehensible yet seemingly wise.
    He always makes gnomic remarks/utterances.



Extensive Definition

For the poetic form, see Gnomic Poetry. For the map projection, see Gnomonic projection.
In Ancient Greek, a general truth may be expressed in the present, future, or aorist tenses. This usage of these three tenses is called the gnomic (gnomic present, etc.).
A gnomic present states that something does happen or that something is true. A gnomic future, the rarest of the three usages, similarly states that certain events often occur, without being concerned with any specific impending event. A gnomic aorist (the most common of the three usages) likewise expresses the tendency for certain events to occur under given circumstances and is used to express general maxims (a rare English example of the gnomic expressed in a past tense is the phrase, "Curiosity killed the cat"). The gnomic aorist is thought to derive (as the English example does) from the summation of a common story (such as the moral of a fable).

Gnomic will

The notion of 'gnomic will' belongs to Eastern Orthodox ascetical theology, being developed particularly within the theology of St Maximus the Confessor. The term 'gnomic' derives from the Greek gnome, meaning 'inclination' or 'intention'. Within Orthodox theology, gnomic willing is contrasted with natural willing. Natural willing designates the free movement of a creature in accordance with the principle (logos) of its nature towards the fulfilment (telos, stasis) of its being. Gnomic willing, on the other hand, designates that form of willing in which a person engages in a process of deliberation culminating in a free choice.
Within the theology of St Maximus, which was upheld by the Sixth Ecumenical Council, Jesus Christ possessed no gnomic will. St Maximus developed this claim particularly in his Dialogue with Pyrrhus. According to St Maximus, the process of gnomic willing presupposes that a person does not know what they want, and so must deliberate and choose between a range of alternatives. However, Jesus Christ, as the Second Person of the Holy Trinity was omniscient. Therefore, St Maximus reasoned, Christ was never in a state of ignorance regarding what he wanted, and so never engaged in gnomic willing.
gnomic in German: Gnomisch

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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