Studying the New Testament gives me a wonderful front row seat to some amazing words. Even manly words. If you read my blog entry entitled The Man Talk then you learned about the very muscular and brawny Greek word, andrizomai, But there is yet another ancient Greek word, boasting a five-o’clock shadow and bulging biceps, that I’m deeply fascinated with. When I hear it, it stirs me, it moves me, it intrigues me.
If you were to think of andrizomai as a young eighteen-year-old man of handsome physique, andreia is his noble father. The word andreia has a little gray on the side of his temples and a coveted beard billowing from his august chin — but he is still in his prime, and likely able to still best his son, andrizomai, in a duel of swords.
Andreia is the word that gave birth to the word andrizomai. So let’s stare at it for a while and be impressed.
Just study that word. Look it over. Smell it. Poke it. Set it in the hot sun and see what happens to it. Dunk it under water and see how it responds. It’s made of very durable stuff.
Say it over and over again and see if anything stirs in your soul. Of course, it would help if you spoke ancient Greek — but try it anyway.
Andreia is a manly man word.
Yes, I realize that, at first, it sounds strangely akin to a girl’s name. However, if you look up the girl’s name Andrea and check its meaning, it means . . . ahem . . . manly.
You see, andreia in its rugged and rough translation into the English language means, manful, manly, and/or chock full of manliness.
So, let’s try it again.
Let the word just sit on your soul like a pan of bread upon the hot oven rack. Let it bake the soft mushy aspects of your manhood out of you; let it firm up your doughy soul.
If you are made of chocolate, this word will melt you. If you are made of gold, it will refine you.
I’m a guy who love words. And this is one of my favorites. For andreia was one of the chief ideals of ancient civilization. Back in the day, if a man didn’t have andreia, then he wasn’t really a man. Men esteemed andreia higher than any other virtue. Just like bread is made up of a list of important ingredients like flour, water, yeast, salt, and honey. So andreia is made up of a list of important ingredients. Ingredients that, without which, a man . . . just isn’t really a man.
The ingredients list reads like an all-star cast of character traits: Valor. Honor. Loyalty. Purity. Courage. Bravery. Humility. Daring. Endurance. Readiness to die. Resilience to keep fighting even when plugged full of arrows; and laughter in the most daunting moments.
Archilochus, the ancient Greek poet and mercenary, summarized the pithy concept of andreia this way:
Be brave, my heart. Plant your feet and square your shoulders to the enemy. Meet him among the man-killing spears. Hold your ground. In victory, do not brag; in defeat, do not weep.
(The Warrior Ethos, Steven Pressfield)
Andreia was simply “as a man should be.” But not just as a man should be while walking down the sidewalk on a sunny day, chewing grape bubble gum and whistling a pleasant tune — no — but, as a man should be amongst the “man-killing spears.”
In the ancient world, a man was defined as a man by how he handled the dire, the difficult, and the deadliest situations.
Does he cry when the going gets rough?
Does he melt when the going gets tough?
Does he fall to pieces when the weights get heavy?
Does he make every obstacle an excuse for self-pity?
Andreia was responding as a man should in the darkest of life’s moments — with valor, with honor, with a smile, and with a laugh. Because when a man is surrounded by impossible odds, outnumbered and encompassed by hostile foes, and facing imminent death — this is when he is proven — this is when he shows his stuff.
As the famed missionary, C.T. Studd, used to say:
When someone says there is a lion in the way, the real Christian promptly replies, “That’s hardly enough inducement for me; I want a bear or two besides to make it worth my while to go.”
It was noted by many that the Australians were recognized as the most manly soldiers in World War I. And that was because they laughed more than all the other soldiers when everything went south, the odds were impossible, and that certain death was knocking.
There is something very manly about laughter when all is on the line. It showcases andreia.
Think of the the ultimate Man, Jesus, as He is described in Psalm 2 — He’s encircled by hostile foes, betrayed, seemingly defeated and yet it says, “The One enthroned in Heaven laughs.”
C.T. Studd adds, “If God who sits in the heavens can laugh, His children on earth should be loyal enough to do exactly as their Father does.”
A man is built to enter through the door of difficulty with a smile and a song. He is constructed by God to face challenge with a laugh, trials with a shrug, and bad news with a smirk of delight. And that is andreia. It’s manliness of the old-fashioned sort.
Before there were guns, soldiers were required to engaged in hand-to-hand combat. For an ancient warrior to slay his enemy, he had to get so close that he knew his enemy’s brand of cologne, eye color, and likely if his breakfast had garlic in it. And, to the ancients, it was this man-to-man engagement that showed andreia. If the soldier cowered from such a death struggle, then he was shamed. If he rose to meet it, even dying in the doing, he was wreathed with honor.
So highly valued was this proving of a man, that it was noted that King Agis wept aloud when he was shown the newly invented catapult that could shoot a killing dart 200 yards. It was said that he cried out, “Alas! Valor is no more!”
The tears of King Agis would be perfectly suited for such a time as this. For alas! Andreia is no more!
What has become of the man of valor, the man of honor, the man of courage? Bravery. Humility. Daring. Endurance. Readiness to die and resilience to keep fighting even when plugged full of arrows?
To say that it’s critical that andreia find its way back into the bodies of modern men, is an understatement, and a rather odd statement simultaneously. For that is like saying, it’s high time that manliness return to manliness — but, what can I say? That’s precisely the great need of the hour.
We should all weep with King Agis, for, alas, andreia is no more!
But, I for one, am not going to sit on my thumbs and let it remain that way!
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