Will.Whim

A weblog by Will Fitzgerald

First century texting

Jean Veronis has interesting post about the use of abbreviations in an ancient Christian text. He points out that later (medieval) texts had a much higher use of abbreviations, and suggests that perhaps the use of translations for Lord, Jesus, etc., were to mark “membership in a tribe” in addition to compression.

Ne retrouve-t-on pas là le double besoin qui se fait sentir dans l’écriture “texto” : gagner de la place, sans doute, mais aussi marquer son appartenance à une tribu, à un groupe à part ? Il y avait trèsprobablement un tel sentiment chez les premiers chrétiens, comme nous le rappelle l’étymologie du mot église : du grec ek – klesia, “qui a été appelé hors de”…

There one can see the double need that is met by “texting”: to save space, no doubt, but also to indicate membership in a tribe. There was, very probably, such a feeling among the early Christians, as the etymology of the French word for “church” (église) tells us: from Greek ek-klesia, “those who are called out.”

My French is pretty bad, so I relied on Google’s translation into English, which was as good an extended automated text as I’ve ever seen. Still, it translated canon as guni.e., “the construction of the gun by the Church”, and the latin expression Nomina Sacra as nominated crowned. The English translation above is mine, based on the Google translation. I had thought that the English word church derived from ekklesia, too, but according to Online Etymology Dictionary, it derives the Greek for “the Lord’s house,” which means its etymologically related to economics.

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