[B-Greek] Etymological fallacy?

J.M. Pauw jmpauw at hotmail.com
Thu Nov 20 06:22:49 EST 2008

Indeed there is a need to warn against etymological fallacies. A lot of 
etymologies do not derive from sound exegesis, but from wishful thinking or 
sometimes are inspired by the wish of impressing other people with your 
knowledge of Greek. So I welcome any critical comment on using etymologies. 
So thanks, Carl, for sharpening our minds in thinking through the meaning of 
the word EKKLHSIA.

However, there still seems to be any historical sense to accept the 
etymological assumption of EKKLHSIA being understood as a group of people 
called out of a wider group. Indeed the word is actually the standard Greek 
political word for assembly of citizens, but there is a reason for this 
fact. Indeed the ancient EKKLHSIA is the assembly of citizens, but I would 
like to stress ONLY citizens. This means that the EKKLHSIA was in fact a 
small group of only citizens, 'called out' (for a long time by the Fate of 
being born as a citizen or not) of the whole population of citizens, metics 
and slaves.
I don't know whether there is an ancient explanation for the word EKKLHSIA, 
but there is a logic to suppose that just the etymology of this word is the 
reason why the ancient Greeks used just this word to designate the political 
assembly of citizens.
So if this is true, then it's not so stupid - nor dogmatic wishful 
thinking - to suppose that it was just this fact to carry over not only the 
word EKKLHSIA into early Christian usage for the congregation of believers, 
but also it's etymology. Of course by changing the context of the ancient 
polis population into the world population, just as the context of the word 
has been changed from assemby of citizens to assembly of believers.

Looking forward to your comments.

Michel Pauw

+AD4- Message: 1
+AD4- Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2008 19:28:16 -0500
+AD4- From: +ACI-Carl W. Conrad+ACI- +ADw-cwconrad+AEA-artsci.wustl.edu+AD4-
+AD4- Subject: +AFs-B-Greek+AF0- Etymological fallacy?
+AD4- To: B-Greek B-Greek +ADw-b-greek+AEA-lists.ibiblio.org+AD4-
+AD4- Message-ID: +ADw-759A03F7-4FD8-463B-9448-6372E7B10C37+AEA-artsci.wustl.edu+AD4-
+AD4- Content-Type: text/plain+ADs- charset+AD0-WINDOWS-1252+ADs- format+AD0-flowed+ADs-
+AD4- delsp+AD0-yes
+AD4- The etymological fallacy appears to be alive and well at the Koinonia
+AD4- blog in yesterday's +ACI-Word study on ekklesia (+ACI-church+ACI-) ? Monday with
+AD4- Mounce 15 +ACI- entry:
+AD4- http://zondervan.typepad.com/koinonia/2008/11/monday-with-mounce.html
+AD4- +AD0- http://tinyurl.com/5n9t54
+AD4- It's the old chestnut about EKKLHSIA being derived from EKKALEW and
+AD4- the word meaning that believers have been +ACI-called out of the world+ACI- to
+AD4- belong to King Jesus. It's worth consulting BDAG on this+ADs- the word is
+AD4- actually the standard ancient Greek political word for assembly of
+AD4- citizens. In the LXX EKKLHSIA was used to convey the Hebrew Qahal,
+AD4- +ACI-congregation+ACI- -- and it is pretty evident the word was carried over
+AD4- into early Christian usage for the congregation of believers.
+AD4- Warnings against the etymological fallacy don't seem to do much good.
+AD4- Carl W. Conrad
+AD4- Department of Classics, Washington University (Ret)

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