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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

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. [Note: circa, about.] 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. [Note: circa, about.] 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. [1897] 496, x. [1899] 303; Expositor , ii. ii. [1881] 281, iii. [1882] 397, iv. vi. [1892] 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.

Frank Richards.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

MANSION. The English word occurs in Scripture only in   John 14:2 , ‘In my Father’s house are many man-sioos’ (RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ‘Or, abiding places ’). Its retention is an archaism, for the modern connotation of a house of some dignity is quite lacking from the word as used by Tindale (1525), apparently from the Vulg. [Note: Vulgate.] mansiones , ‘abiding places.’ The Gr. word ( monç ), like the Latin, means (1) the act of abiding, (2) a place of abode. In the NT it occurs also in   John 14:23 , where ‘make our abode’ is Greek idiom for ‘abide.’ Hence the thought in   John 14:2 is simply that there is ample room for the disciples in the Father’s house. In the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] the Gr. word occurs only once, viz. 1Ma 7:38 , ‘give them no abiding place’ (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘suffer them not to live any longer’).

S. W. Green.

Webster's Dictionary [3]

(1): ( n.) A twelfth part of the heavens; a house. See 1st House, 8.

(2): ( n.) The house of the lord of a manor; a manor house; hence: Any house of considerable size or pretension.

(3): ( n.) A dwelling place, - whether a part or whole of a house or other shelter.

(4): ( n.) The place in the heavens occupied each day by the moon in its monthly revolution.

(5): ( v. i.) To dwell; to reside.

Holman Bible Dictionary [4]

Before going away, Jesus promised to make provision of a dwelling place for His disciples ( John 14:2 ). The Greek noun means “abiding places.” KJV translated this as “mansions,” which meant a dwelling place but has come to represent an elaborate, expensive house in English. Thus modern translations read, “dwelling places” or “rooms.” Christian theology holds that Christ's followers will abide with Him eternally in heavenly dwelling places.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [5]

 John 14:2 (b) Our blessed Lord used this word to describe the wonderful place He is preparing in glory for His own children. We do not know what it is like, nor just where in glory it will be located, but we do know that if the architect of the universe is making it, it will be gorgeous, glorious and marvelous.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [6]

man´shun ( μονή , monḗ , "abode"): In   John 14:2 , the word is used in the plural: "In my Father's house are many mansions," the Revised Version margin "abiding places." The ideas conveyed are those of abundance of room, and permanence of habitation, in the heavenly world.