After healing ten lepers, one, whom Luke identifies as a Samaritan, returns:

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.
(Luke 17:15-16) [ESV]

Jesus calls the Samaritan man a ἀλλογενής, a foreigner:

Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:18)

οὐχ εὑρέθησαν ὑποστρέψαντες δοῦναι δόξαν τῷ θεῷ εἰ μὴ ὁ ἀλλογενὴς οὗτος

About ἀλλογενής Thayer's has:

ἀλλογενής, -ες (ἄλλος and γένος), sprung from another race, a foreigner, alien: Luke 17:18. (In the Sept. [Genesis 17:27; Exodus 12:43, etc.], but nowhere in secular writings.)

While Luke has the only use of the word in the New Testament, it is used 29 times in the LXX, but according to the Thayer's entry, nowhere in secular writings.

  1. How is a Samaritan a foreigner and is the use in Luke consistent with the use in the LXX?
  2. If ἀλλογενής is nowhere used in secular writings, was this word "created" by the LXX translators as a way to distinguish a certain type of foreigner, such as a Samaritan?
  • 1
    The issue is likely because the examples that are extant are from the papyri. Thayer released his lexicon just before the wealth of papyri were discovered and/or incorporated into our consideration for translations with the effect that Thayer's was somewhat out of date almost immediately after publication! Poor guy! So more modern lexicons, most notably BDAG, are fully informed from the papyri so you will see out of date information in Thayer's quite often. – Ruminator Nov 3 '18 at 12:48

It does not appear that the word was first coined by the translators of the Septuagint.

According to Liddell & Scott, the word appeared in the writings of Callisthenes (also sometimes referred to as "Pseudo-Callisthenes"). Callisthenes was born in Macedonia in 370 BC - a couple of centuries before the Septuagint was compiled.

(For the Lidell & Scott entry, go here and click "LSJ")

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BDAG (which see) has several instances of the use of ἀλλογενὴς outside the Bible. These include:

  • The famous Jerusalem inscription ("let no foreigner enter...")
  • The Psalms of Solomon 17:28
  • Joseph and Asenath 4:12
  • Philo of Alexandria
  • etc

There are several Koine Greek words for "foreigner" or similar such as

  • "xenos" (= strange) eg, Matt 25:35, 38, 43, 44, 27:7 etc
  • "allotrois" (= strangers) eg, Matt 17:25, 26, etc
  • "allogenes"(= foreigner) eg, Luke 17:18.

ἀλλογενής is literally one of another birth or type. The antipathy between the Jews and Samaritans ensured that they were labelled with something like this. They were a mixed race, partly Jewish/Israelite and partly other nations mixed in such as Assyrian, Syrian, and many more.

The fact that the LXX translators used this word to describe various people (Gen 17:27, Ex 12:43 as quoted above) suggests that the word was not invented for Samaritans because it was used to describe other types of foreigners, ie, non-Samaritans.

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  • Compared to the other words how does this ine best describe a Samaritan? – Revelation Lad Nov 3 '18 at 14:14
  • "allogenes" is the kindest word to describe a Samaritan because it simply means a person born not of Jewish descent. "xenos" means strange or stranger and is somewhat "xenophobic" hence our English word! "Allotrois" means born not from here and is not as strong as xenos but still stronger than allogenes - the best and most polite term available. – user25930 Nov 3 '18 at 20:40

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