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(Heb. Gôyîm; Gr. ethne, ethnikoi, Hellenes; Vulg. Gentes, Gentiles, Graeci).
A word of Latin origin and usually employed in the plural. In the English versions of both Testaments it collectively designates the nations distinct from the Jewish people. The basis of this distinction is that, as descendants of Abraham, the Jews considered themselves, and were in fact, before the coming of Christ, the chosen people of God. As the non-Jewish nations did not worship the true God and generally indulged in immoral practices, the term Gôyîm "Gentiles" has often times in the Sacred Writings, in the Talmud, etc., a disparaging meaning. Since the spread of Christianity, the word Gentiles designates, in theological parlance, those who are neither Jews nor Christians. In the United States, the Mormons use it of persons not belonging to their sect. See PROSELYTES.
(Catholic authors are marked with an asterisk.) SCHURER, History of the Jewish People, second division, vol. I (New York, 1891); SELBIE in HAST., Dict. of the Bible, s. v.; LESÊTRE* in Vig.,Dict de la Bible, s. v. Gentils; HIRSCH in Jewish Encycl., s. v. (New York, 1903); BROWN, BRIGGS, AND DRIVER, Hebrew and English Lexicon, s. v. XXX (New York, 1906); DÖLLINGER*, The Gentile and the Jew (tr. London 1906).
FRANCIS E. GIGOT