goolde at mtnempire.net
Wed Jul 28 22:42:42 EDT 1999
Perhaps one thing we might agree on is that words, especially taken over
the course of the history of a language, have a variety of term meanings
which we collectively call the semantic domain of the word. Any particular
usage of a word must identify its meaning by its context.
We do this in English without even thinking about it. "Post" can be a
stake to hang a fence on, a position in a company, the place where the Army
lives, breakfast cereal, to place something on a bulletin board, to take up
a position, to mail a letter, or to jump up and down in the saddle of a
horse! (I never did like riding English style!)
We easily identify the intended meaning by its context.
Of course, that's the challenge for we are are studying the GNT 2000 years
after the fact. It's not automatic or easy, at least not for me.
ISTM that ekklesia pretty clearly has more than one meaning in the GNT. It
would appear to refer to the Body of Christ in Ephesians and perhaps
elsewhere. It refers to an unruly mob at Ephesus in Acts 19:32 and
undoubtedly refers to local assemblies of believers in several NT passages.
It is also used to refer to a congregation of Jews with Moses in the
wilderness. To try to make any one of these the "standard" or "universal"
meaning of ekklesia denies the entire concept that a word can have more
than one meaning and seems to me (not so humble opinion here) to torture
some of the texts, no matter which one you select as the "standard." This
was my intended context in which I commented that words always get their
meaning from context.
Is this agreeable?
George A. Goolde
Professor, Bible & Theology
Southern California Bible College & Seminary
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