[B-Greek] Etymological fallacy?

George F Somsel gfsomsel at yahoo.com
Tue Nov 18 23:02:47 EST 2008

While it is clearly an "exegetical fallacy" to use the etymology of EKKLHSIA in order to posit that the church consists of "called out ones", when one goes back to the earlier usage among the Greeks there may be a real basis for connecting this with the concept of calling out.  Moulton and Milligan deal with the papyrological findings mainly from Oxyrhynchus in Egypt and late in relation to early Greek, but they have an interesting comment on the word

[Page 195] ἐκκλησία [EKKLHSIA]     1577
For the Biblical history of the word ἐκκλησία [EKKLHSIA], which meant originally any public assembly of citizens summoned by a herald, it is sufficient to refer to Hort, The Christian Ecclesia, p. 1 ff. It is the LXX term for the community of Israel, whether assembled or no. In the Gospels the word is confined to Mt 16:18, 18:17, where it denotes Christ’s new ἐκκλησία [EKKLHSIA], as distinguished from the old. Deissmann (LAE p. 112ff.) has emphasized the significance of the fact that the Latin-speaking people of the West, to whom Christianity came, did not translate the word, but simply borrowed it, and cites an interesting bilingual inscr. of a.d.103–4, found in the theatre of Ephesus, which refers to the gift by a Roman official of a silver image of Artemis (cf. Ac 19:24) and other statues—ἵνα τίθηνται κατ κατʼ ἐκκλησίαν[hINA TIQHNTAI KAT KAT' EKKLHSIAN] ** (cf. Ac 14:23) ἐν τῷ
 θεάτρῳ ἐπὶ τῶν βάσεων[EN TWi QEATRWi EPI TWN BASEWN], or, in the parallel text, ita ut [om]n[i e]cclesia supra bases ponerentur. Other reff. to ἐκκλησίαι[EKKLHSIAI] in the theatre at Ephesus will be found s.v.θέατρον[QEATRON]. For the “inclusive” as distinguished from the “exclusive” character of the Greek ἐκκλησία[EKKLHSIA] (cf. Hicks CR i. p. 43), we may cite the case of an ἐκκλησία[EKKLHSIA] summoned at Apamea—ἀγομένης πανδήμου ἐκκλησίας[AGOMENHS PANDHMOU EKKLHSIAS], which the editor Cagnat (note on IV. 7917) describes as “concilium totius populi Apamensis, civium cum Graecorum, tum Romanorum”: see also Ramsay C. and B. ii. p. 465, where the inscr. is dated as perhaps of the time of Vespasian and Titus. MGr ἐκκλησ(ι)ά [EKKLHS(I)A].
Moulton, J. H., & Milligan, G. (1930). The vocabulary of the Greek Testament. Issued also in eight parts, 1914-1929. (195). London: Hodder and Stoughton.
My point here being that the assembly was originally called by a herald.  Please remember, however, that "assembly" would be the concept understood for the word EKKLHSIA in the NT and not "called out."

Is KAT KAT' here a typo?  Does anyone have the dead tree version?

… search for truth, hear truth, 
learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth, 
defend the truth till death.

- Jan Hus

From: Stephen Baldwin <stbaldwi at hotmail.com>
To: Carl Conrad <cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu>; B- Greek <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, November 18, 2008 9:43:56 PM
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Etymological fallacy?

Good evening Dr.Conrad, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Dr.C's post below had me reaching for my Carson [Exegetical Fallacies].
I'd like to understand this problem more, and understand [perhaps by way of a good example?] when the etymlogy of a word does indeed provide a good basis for understanding the meaning of a word, and how it is divined that the etymology legitimately provides this.

Is the point of the fallacy in EKKLHSIA that nowhere in any earlier [than Koine] greek does the word imply a "calling out"? (I have in mind something like Ruth where the elders met at the gates of the city [Ruth 4:11] in conference); or is it that the "calling out" gets loaded with unwarranted theological ideas (the calling out per old-testament call out of "the world" to separateness/holiness)? Is it both? or is it neither?

Any clues gratefully received!

Steve Baldwin
stbaldwi at hotmail.com
> From: cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu> To: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org> Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2008 19:28:16 -0500> Subject: [B-Greek] Etymological fallacy?> > The etymological fallacy appears to be alive and well at the Koinonia > blog in yesterday's "Word study on ekklesia ("church") — Monday with > Mounce 15 " entry:> http://zondervan.typepad.com/koinonia/2008/11/monday-with-mounce.html> = http://tinyurl.com/5n9t54> > It's the old chestnut about EKKLHSIA being derived from EKKALEW and > the word meaning that believers have been "called out of the world" to > belong to King Jesus. It's worth consulting BDAG on this; the word is > actually the standard ancient Greek political word for assembly of > citizens. In the LXX EKKLHSIA was used to convey the Hebrew Qahal, > "congregation" -- and it is pretty evident the word was carried over > into early Christian usage for the congregation of believers.> > Warnings against the etymological fallacy don't seem to do much
 good.> > Carl W. Conrad> Department of Classics, Washington University (Ret)> > ---> B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek> B-Greek mailing list> B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-greek
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