The word Amen (Hebrew Name|אָמֵן|Amen|’Amen ; _ar. آمين, "’Āmīn" ; "So be it; truly") is a declaration of
affirmationcite web|url=http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01407b.htm|publisher=Catholic Encyclopedia|title=Amen|accessdate=2007-08-20] found in the Hebrew Bibleand New Testament.cite web|url=http://www.kabylia.info/observer/spip.php?article94|title=Etymology of the word “Amen”|publisher=D.Messaoudi|accessdate=2007-08-20] Its use in Judaismdates back to its earliest texts. [ Deuteronomy27.15-26, for example. There are many more occurences in the Hebrew Bible.] It has been generally adopted in Christian worship as a concluding word for prayers and hymns. In Islam, it is the standard ending to Dua(supplication). Common English translations of the word "amen" include: "Verily", "Truly", "So be it", and "Let it be". It can also be used colloquially to express strong agreementcite web|url=http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?l=a&p=11|publisher=Online Etymology Dictionary|title=Amen|accessdate=2007-08-20] , as in, for instance, "amen to that." [Microsoft Encarta Dictionary Tools. Retrieved 20 August 2007]
"Amen," meaning "so be it," is of Hebrew originPaul Joüon, SJ, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, trans. and revised by T. Muraoka, vol. I, Rome: Editrice Pontificio Instituto Biblico, 2000.] cite web|url=http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/strongs.pl?strongs=281|publisher=Strong's Concordance|title=G281|accessdate=2008-02-20] . The word was imported into the Greek of the early Church from the Jewish synagogue.cite web|url=http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1383&letter=A&search=Amen|publisher=Jewish Encyclopedia|title=Amen|accessdate=2008-02-19] . From Greek, "amen" entered the other Western languages. According to a standard dictionary etymology, "amen" passed from Greek into Late Latin, and thence into English.cite web|url=http://www.bartleby.com/61/75/A0247500.html |publisher=American Heritage Dictionary |title=Amen |accessdate=2008-02-26]
The Hebrew word "’amen" derives from the Hebrew verb "’aman," a primitive root. [cite web|url=http://www.sacrednamebible.com/kjvstrongs/STRHEB5.htm#S543 |title=King James Bible Strong's Hebrew Dictionary |accessdate=2008-02-26] Grammarians frequently list "’aman" under its three consonants (’mn), which are identical to those of "’amen" . This triliteral root (’mn) means "to be firm, confirmed, reliable, faithful, have faith, believe." Two English words that derive from this root are:
a. amen, from Hebrew "’amen" (=truly, certainly);Both a and b derive from Hebrew "’aman" (=to be firm). [cite web|url=http://www.bartleby.com/61/roots/S12.html |title= The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language Fourth Edition. |accessdate=2008-02-26]
Mammon, from Aramaic"mamona," probably from Mishnaic Hebrew"mamôn," probably from earlier "*ma’mon" (=? “security, deposit”).
Talmudteaches homiletically that the word "Amen" is an acronymfor אל מלך נאמן ("’El melekh ne’eman", "God, trustworthy King"), [Tractate Shabbat 119b and Tractate Sanhedrin 111a] the phrase recited silently by an individual before reciting the Shma.
Popular among some theosophists and adherents of
esoteric Christianityis the conjecturethat "amen" is a derivative of the name of the Egyptian godnamed Amun(which is sometimes also spelled "Amen"). [cite web
title = COLLATION OF THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARIES - Amen | url=http://www.theosophy-nw.org/theosnw/ctg/am-an.htm| accessdate = 2008-03-12 ] [cite web
title = Assembly of Yahweh, Cascade (an Assembly of True Israel, of the Diaspora) - Words and Definitions critical to the correct understanding of the Scriptures and Christianity | url=http://www.assemblyoftrueisrael.com/Documents/WordsandtermsintheScriptures.html | accessdate = 2008-03-12 ] [cite web | title = Amen | publisher = The Assembly of IaHUShUA MaShIaChaH | date =
2005-12-15| url=http://www.iahushua.com/ST-RP/church.htm | accessdate = 2008-03-13 ] Some adherents of Eastern religions believe that "amen" shares roots with the Sanskrit word, " aum". [Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yoga, 1946, chapter 26.] There is no academic support for either of these views.
Three distinct Biblical usages of "amen" may be noted.:
# Initial "Amen", referring back to words of another speaker and introducing an affirmative sentence, e.g. 1 Kings 1:36;
# Detached "Amen", again referring to the words of another speaker but without a complementary affirmative sentence, e.g. Nehemiah 5:13; Revelation 5:14 (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:16).
# Final "Amen", with no change of speaker, as in the subscription to the first three divisions of the
Psalterand in the frequent doxologies of the New Testament Epistles.
Amen in Judaism
Jewish law requires an individual to say "Amen" in a variety of contexts. [
Orach Chaim56 (amen in kaddish); O.C. 124 (amen in response to blessings recited by the prayer reader); O.C. 215 (amen in response to blessings made by any individual outside of the liturgy).]
Liturgically, "amen" is a communal response to be recited at certain points during the prayer service. It is recited communally to affirm a blessing made by the prayer reader. It is also mandated as a response during the
kaddishdoxology.The congregation is sometimes prompted to answer 'amen' by the terms "ve-'imru" ( _he. ואמרו) = "and [now] say (pl.)," or, "ve-nomar" (ונאמר) = "and let us say." Contemporary usage reflects ancient practice: As early as the 4th century BCE, Jews assembled in the Temple responded 'amen' at the close of a doxology or other prayer uttered by a priest. This Jewish liturgicaluse of amen was adopted by the Christians. [cite encyclopedia| title = Amen | encyclopedia = Encyclopædia Britannica. | publisher = Encyclopædia Britannica Online. | year = 2008 | url = http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9006072/amen | accessdate = 2008-03-17 ] But Jewish law also requires individuals to answer "amen" whenever they hear a blessing recited, even in a non-liturgical setting.
Jews usually pronounce the word as it is pronounced in Hebrew: "aw-MÉN" (Ashkenazi) or "ah-MÉN" (Sephardi). ["To Pray as a Jew: A Guide to the Prayer Book and the Synagogue Service," Hayim Halevy Donin] These are transcribed in IPA as [IPA|'mIPA|IPA|n] and [a'mIPA|n] respectively.
The most common context in which an "amen" is required by
halakhahis after one hears a blessing recited. [Orach Chaim 124:6] In fact, it is prohibited to willfully refrain from responding "amen" when it is indicated. [ Chayei Adam6:1]
The source of this requirement is the verse in
:"כי שם ה׳ אקרא הבו גדל לאלוקינו":"When I proclaim the name of "
Hashem", give glory to our God."
This mandate refers to the mention of the
Tetragrammaton, which was only pronounced at certain specific times within the confines of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Whoever heard this special name of God mentioned was obliged to respond with "Baruch shem kavod malchuso l'olam va'ed" (ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד, "Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom for all eternity"). [ Deuteronomy32:3 + associated commentary of Rashiand supercommentaries "Mizrachi" and "Gur Aryeh"] With the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, however, pronouncing the Tetragrammaton was prohibited, [ Chayei Adam5:27] and was replaced with the pronunciation "Adonai". Although this term bears significant holiness (and is in fact one of the seven names of God) and may not be pronounced without purpose, it may be pronounced when appropriate in prayer and blessings. The aforementioned response for the Tetragrammaton, however, is not warranted when one hears "Adonai" pronounced.
The Talmudic Sages therefore mandated that one must answer "amen" at the completion of a blessing outside of the Temple, comparable to the "baruch shem" that was used in the Holy Temple. [See Tractate Brachot 63a + associated commentary of Rashi, which state that "baruch shem" was used not only as a response to the recital of the
Tetragrammaton, but also whenever one heard a blessing within the Temple.] However, while "baruch shem" is an expression of praise and honor, "amen" is an affirmation of belief." [Forst, Binyomin. "The Laws of B'rachos", Artscroll1990, ISBN 0899062202 page 86-87.] The Talmudteaches that the word "Amen" is an acronymfor אל מלך נאמן ("’El melekh ne’eman", "God, trustworthy King.") [Tractate Shabbat 119b and Tractate Sanhedrin 111a] The word "amen" itself is etymologically related to the Hebrew word "emunah" (אמונה, "faith") asserting that one is affirming the fundamental beliefs of Judaism. [Rietti, Rabbi Jonathan. [http://www.jewishinspiration.com/tape.php?tape_id=30 "The Greatest Promise Ever Made: The Eternity of The Jewish People"] (audio)]
Although "amen," in Judaism, is most commonly stated as a response to a blessing that incorporates God's name, "amen" is more generally an affirmation of any declaration. Accordingly, it is customary in some comunities to respond "amen" after each "harachaman" in Grace after meals ["Magen Avraham" 215:3, citing the "
Midrash"] and after a "mi'shebeirach". When reciting "amen", it is important that the response is not louder than the blessing itself. [Orach Chaim 124:12] When trying to encourage others to respond "amen", however, one may raise his voice to stir others to respond in kind. [ Mishnah Berurah124:47]
"Amen" is also used when an individual wishes to fulfill his own obligation through another person’s recitation of a prayer or blessing, via the construct of "
Proper articulation when answering "amen"
When responding "amen", it must be pronounced in a proper manner, consistent with its significance in Jewish law. There are a number of ways to respond "amen" that are discouraged as being either disrespectful or careless:
The articulation of the "alef" (א, first letter of "amen" in
Hebrew) and its proper vowelization must be clear. If the "kametz" vowel is rushed and mispronounced as a the vowelization of a "shva", the "amen" is termed an "amen chatufa", as "chatufa" is synonym for the "shva". [ Orach Chaim124:8]
Another type of "amen chatufa" is one that is recited prior to the completion of the blessing it is being recited to follow; this comes from the Hebrew word "chatuf" (חטוף, "snatched"). [Orach Chaim 124:8] The impatient rush to respond "amen" before the blessing has even been completed is prohibited. [
If insufficient stress is placed on the "nun" (נ, the last letter of "amen" in
Hebrew) and the "mem" (מ, the middle letter) drowns it out, this is termed an "amen k'tufa" (אמן קטופה, "a cut "amen"). [Tractate Brachot 47a]
One must also not recite "amen" too quickly; one should allocate enough time for the "amen" as necessary to say "’El melekh ne’eman". [
Orach Chaim124:8] Saying an "amen k'tzara" (אמן קצרה, "short "amen") recited too quickly shows a lack of patience.
ituations in which one may not recite "amen"
Although it is not prohibited to say the word "amen" in vain, the Talmudic Sages indicated particular circumstances in which it is improper to answer "amen". ["Chava'at Da'at" "
Yoreh De'ah" 110 ("Dinei s'feik s'feika", "Shach" note 20)]
An "amen yetoma" (אמן יתומה, "orphaned "amen") is one such example of an improperly recited "amen". There is a dispute among the halachic authorities as to exactly what constitutes an orphaned "amen".
* As "amen" is recited as an affirmation of what a blessing has just asserted, one who is unaware of which blessing was just recited can certainly not affirm its assertion with true conviction. Therefore, if someone just arrives in a place and hears others reciting "amen" to an unknown blessing, he or she may not respond "amen" together with them. ["Rema" "
Orach Chaim" 124:8, 11]
* The opposing view maintains a much narrower definition of "amen yetoma". They assert that its application is limited to a situation in which someone is intending to hear another's blessing and respond "amen" with the intention of fulfilling his or her obligation to recite that blessing. In such a situation, should any member of the listening party miss hearing any of the words of the blessing, it would be equivalent to an omission of the recital of that word (in accordance with the principle of
shomea k'oneh), and a response of "amen" would thus be prohibited, even though the listener knew which blessing was being recited. [" Orach Chaim" 124:8 + associated "Be'er Heitev"]
* Another type of "amen yetoma" is when someone does not respond "amen" immediately after hearing the conclusion of a blessing, but rather pauses for a few seconds ("
toch k'dei dibur"), [ Mishnah Brurah124:34] thereby causing the "amen" to lose its connection to the blessing. Responding with such an "amen" is forbidden. If however some people are still responding "amen" to a blessing, one may begin to respond "amen", even if this time interval has passed. [ Mishnah Brurah124:34, 42]
One may not respond "amen" to a "bracha l'vatala" (ברכה לבטלה, "blessing made for nought"). [
Orach Chaim215:4] Thus, one should not respond "amen" to a blessing made by someone who is merely reciting the blessing for educational purposes (i.e. to learn how to recite them). [Orach Chaim 215:3]
Responding "amen" to one's own blessing
Because one cannot attest to one's own blessing any more than he or she already has by reciting it, responding "amen" to one's own blessing is redundant and one may not do so. [
Orach Chaim215:1] If the blessing is being recited on food, one who responds "amen" to one's own blessing will either cause a "hefseik" (הפסק, "prohibited interruption") [ Mishnah Brurah215:1] or likely pronounce an "amen yetoma", depending on whether one responds immediately or waits until after one swallows some food or drink, respectively.
An exception to this rule is a situation in which an individual is reciting a series of blessings; in such a case, some authorities permit the individual to respond "amen" to the last blessing in order to signal the ending of the series. [
Orach Chaim215:1] While there are many examples of series of blessings within the Jewish prayer services, Ashkenazi tradition dictates that "amen" is not recited at the conclusion of a series of blessings. The one exception to this is in Grace after Meals after the third blessing of "Boneh Yerushalayim"; in order to signify that the first three blessings are biblically mandated, as opposed to the fourth rabbinically-mandated blessing, the Talmud[Tractate Brachot 45b] mandates that one recite "amen" at its closing. [ Mishnah Brurah215:4]
When responding "amen" will constitute a prohibited interruption
When responding "amen" will constitute a "hefseik" (הפסק, "prohibited interruption"), one should not respond "amen". An example of this type of situation would be within the evening "
kiddush" on Jewish holidays, when the blessing of " sheheheyanu" is added within the "kiddush" prayer.
By listening intently and responding "amen" to each blessing of the "kiddush" prayer, all those present can effectively fulfill their obligation to recite "kiddush", even though only one person is actually reciting it, via the principle of "
shomea k'oneh" (שומע כעונה, "One who hears is the equivalent of one who recites").
While men either recite the "sheheheyanu" blessing in "kiddush" or dispense their obligation by listening to someone else recite it, women generally recite their "sheheheyanu" during candle lighting. Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank notes that anyone who lit candles should refrain from responding "amen" to the "sheheheyanu" blessing during "kiddush" because it would effectively be a interruption in their fulfillment of reciting "kiddush", as they have already recited their "sheheheyanu" blessing.
Amen in Christianity
The uses of "amen" ("verily") in the
Gospelsform a peculiar class; they are initial, but often lack any backward reference. [cite web|url=http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1383&letter=A&search=Amen|publisher=Jewish Encyclopedia|title=Amen|accessdate=2008-02-22] Jesusused the word to affirm his own utterancesFact|date=February 2008, not those of another personFact|date=February 2008, and this usage was adopted by the church. The use of the initial amen, single or double in form, to introduce solemn statements of Jesus in the Gospels had no parallel in Jewish practice. [cite encyclopedia| title = Amen | encyclopedia = Encyclopædia Britannica. | publisher = Encyclopædia Britannica Online. | year = 2008 | url = http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9006072/amen | accessdate = 2008-03-17 ] The liturgical use of the word in apostolic times is attested by the passage from 1 Corinthians cited above, and Justin Martyr(c. 150) describes the congregation as responding "amen," to the benediction after the celebration of the Eucharist. Its introduction into the baptismal formula (in the Greek Orthodox Church it is pronounced after the name of each person of the Trinity) is probably later. Among certain Gnostic sects "Amen" became the name of an angel.
Isaiah65:16, the authorized version has "the God of truth," ("the God of Amen," in Hebrew. Jesus often used Amen to put emphasis to his own words (translated: "verily"). In John's Gospel, it is repeated, "Verily, verily." Amen is also used in oath (Numbers 5:22; Deuteronomy 27:15-26; Nehemiah 5:13; 8:6; 1 Chronicles 16:36). "Amen" is further found at the end of the prayer of primitive churches (1 Corinthians 14:16). [ [http://eastonsbibledictionary.com/a/amen.htm eastonsbibledictionary.com, Amen] ]
In the King James Bible, the word "amen" is preserved in a number of contexts. Notable ones include:
catechismof curses of the Law found in Deuteronomy27.
* A double "amen" ("amen and amen") occurs in
Psalm89 (Psalm 41:13; 72:19; 89:52), to confirm the words and invoke the fulfillment of them. [ [http://eastonsbibledictionary.com/a/amen.htm eastonsbibledictionary.com, Amen] ]
* The custom of closing prayers with "amen" originates in the
Lord's Prayerat Matthew 6:13
* "Amen" occurs in several
doxologyformulas in Romans 1:25, 9:5, 11:36, 15:33, and several times in Chapter 16. It also appears in doxologies in the Pss (41:14; 72:19; 89:53; 106:48). This liturgical form from Judaism. [cf. John L. McKezie, SJ, "Dictionary of the Bible", New York: MacMillan Publ. Co., Inc., 1965. Entry: "Amen," p. 25)]
* It concludes all of Paul's general
Revelation3:14, Jesus is referred to as, "the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation."
* "Amen" concludes the
New Testamentat Rev. 22:21.
In some Christian churches, the amen corner or amen section is any subset of the congregation likely to call out "Amen!" in response to points in a preacher's
sermon. Metaphorically, the term can refer to any group of heartfelt traditionalists or supporters of an authority figure.
In English, the word "amen" has two primary pronunciations, "ah-men" (IPA|/aˈmɛn/) or "ay-men" (IPA|/eɪˈmɛn/), with minor additional variation in emphasis (the two syllables may be equally stressed instead of placing primary stress on the second). The "ah-men" pronunciation is usual in British English, the one that is used in performances of classical music, in churches with more formalized
rituals and liturgyand liberal Evangelical Protestant denominations. The "ay-men" pronunciation, a product of the Great Vowel Shiftdating to the 15th century, is associated with Irish Protestantism and conservative Evangelical Protestant denominations generally, and the pronunciation that is typically sung in gospel music. Increasingly Anglophone Roman Catholics are adopting the "ay-men" pronunciation for speech, although the broad "ah" is usually retained for singing.
"Amen" is also used in standard, international French; however, in the
Cajun Frenchdialect, "Ansi soit-il" (literally, "so be it"), or the Québec Frenchdialect, "Ainsi soit-il", is used instead.
Amen in Islam
Muslimsuse the word "’Āmīn" ( _ar. آمين) not only after reciting the first surah ( Al Fatiha) of the Qur'an, but also when concluding a prayer or dua, with the same meaning as in Christianity [cite book | last = Hastings | first = James | authorlink=James Hastings| title = A Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels: Volume I | publisher = The Minerva Group, Inc.| origdate=1901| year = 2004 | pages = 52 | url= http://books.google.com/books?id=a9ukxN5gAgIC&pg=PA51&lpg=PA51&dq=web&ots=zWGtxwGKHx&sig=4BLM-2eLeCiXtNGkwwaaKcBDPYQ&hl=en#PPA52,M1] . However not all Muslims share in this verbal tradition. The word "Amen" is not found anywhere in the Quran. Amin(al-Amin) is one of the names of the Prophet Mohammed. The Islamic use of the word is the same as the Jewish use of the word.
Amen in Hinduism
Amen also has an equivalent in Hinduism, "astu", which is referred at end of prayers or teachings, and means "so be it". The use of the word is similar to usages in other religions."Tatha-astu" is used to bless someone meaning "tath" "astu" - Be It...
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01407b.htm Catholic Encyclopedia: Amen]
* [http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1383&letter=A&search=Amen Jewish Encyclopedia: Amen]
* [http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Amen Encyclopedia Britannica: Amen]
* [http://www.chabad.org/library/article.asp?AID=261102 The Laws of Responding Amen in Judaism] chabad.org
* [http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/strongs.pl?strongs=0543 Strong's Concordance H543]
* [http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/strongs.pl?strongs=281 Strong's Concordance G281]
* [http://www.sacred-texts.com/egy/tut/tut00.htm Tutankhamen - Amenism, Atenism and Egyptian Monotheism]
* [http://student.britannica.com/comptons/article-9309692/Amen: Britannica Student Encyclopedia]
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