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A physical gesture used in Christian worship, performed-like genuflecting, kneeling, and prostration-to express reverence. It may be directed towards a person, e.g., the bishop; an object, e.g., the altar; or it may be a response to an utterance, e.g., the name of Jesus. It may also be used by the minister to express thanks to someone for assistance in the service. The origin of the use of bowing is problematical. Bowing to bishops was part of the court ceremonial introduced into the church in the time of Constantine, who gave bishops the rank of imperial officials. Bowing at the name of Jesus is obviously suggested by Philippians 2:10. In the Church of England it was approved by canon 18 of 1604 (cf. canon B9 of 1969), although its observance has been generally restricted to the creed. The further practice of bowing toward the altar was ordered by Archbishop Laud's ill-fated canons of 1640, which were of disputed legality and never took effect.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

bou, bou’-ing.

See Adoration; Attitudes.

The Psalmist’s assailants expected that he would be "like a leaning (the King James Version "bowing") wall" (Ps 62:3) before their united attack, as when an ill-built, bulging wall gives way under a sudden and heavy fall of rain (compare Eze 13:11; 38:22).

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