One might think Hahnemann must have been inspired when one reflects and considers the many details upon which he built his new doctrine; the particulars being as astounding as the whole.
Take the word homoionpath, from the Greek, familiar as it has become through long usage, is yet so happy a choice, so strikingly to the point, that the more we think about it the more we marvel at its aptitude and feel gratified.
One need but hark back to the time when the word was not yet chosen and Hahnemann himself not yet able to see clearly. He did not say harmonious, agreeing, corresponding, adequate, analogous or identical; not congruous, nor covering, although he did make use of “cover” (decken) in other places; he purposely did not use the word like or ison, although he insisted upon the greatest possible likeness of symptoms, and surely never discarded a remedy by reason of its too great similarity or complete likeness.
But he said homoios and translated it by similar before he could know that the word, in later scientific development, would come to stand as the one correct and approved term. Pathy, and the word allos or alloios, besides enantion (enantiopathy) were chosen later to favor homoion. The word homoion, the more we examine it, expresses the fundamental idea of the new doctrine better and more clearly than any that could have been chosen. It is the one true and right word, which has served, and will continue to serve through all time.
Our short history has already furnished several examples of the enemys attempts to substitute another name and hoist another flag, but our banner still proudly streams and is mightiest. Short as is our history, that of the other side is still more brief. All oppositions trying to hook on, were, if not exactly stillborn, yet so weazen as soon to fade, or at most to hover about like spectres in dark corners. We are still alive. So it was and ever will be; for it is not the word but the spirit that abides in the word, the spirit of truth which keeps us alive. It is in the nature of the truth to endure forever. All other power is scattered by it like dust.
The Greeks made a distinction between ison and homoion, but none between homon and homoion. I am not speaking of grammarians, but of Greeks. They use the word ison where things equal, totally alike, are compounded; equal measure, angles or leg of an angle, sides, equal values, weight, equal parts, import, also equality of birth, standing, rank. On the other hand homoion is employed for equality of character, manner of living, feeling, opinion and disposition; the same with color, form and tone; in short, where we use the word similar. In this difference of usage we recognize a vital difference.
In the New Testament ison is only used in a sense of perfect likeness, for example, “he deemed himself like unto God”, etc. Not homos. On the other hand homoion is used in the parables; for instance “the kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed”; and again, “like a merchant”, etc.; also in Revelations where corresponding imagery is concerned. Also in the parallel passage in Matthew 22, 39, “and the second is like unto it”, which Luther quite correctly translated by like.
Later I will again refer to these passages by which my remaining doubts of the true meaning of similar were dispelled. Homoios in all of these means likeness in difference of kind, in different domains, always in cases where together with likeness there must be the thought of a difference.
We surely know that Hahnemann did not borrow the word from the New Testament. Not even should he have read the passage in Acts 14, 15, where Paul rends his garments and cried out, “We are homoeopaths, (sufferers alike) and will not sacrifice oxen.” Nor would this have deterred him from adopting the name. It was not Hahnemanns way to long hesitate over a choice of words.